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Title: Shakespeare and the botanic reformation
Author: Ford, H.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8502 5572
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2019
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Plants in Shakespeare's work operate as evidences for the divine persisting in the natural world after the Fall. Protestant reformers policed such evidence by means of herbal and emblem books, by undermining the sacred significance of fable and allegory and the cult of saints. However, by introducing plants into his work, Shakespeare promoted a cosmology in which the sacred remained immanent in nature. He highlighted the supernatural qualities of plants in ways that seemed to counter more orthodox herbal attitudes and reaffirmed medieval symbolism rooted in nature in a way that anticipated the recusant emblems of Henry Hawkins. Moreover, Shakespeare and others continued writing fable, a mode which once included forms like love complaint and dream vision. Thomas Lodge, Christopher Marlowe and Shakespeare composed fables in the style of Ovid and Musaeus. These were provocative texts at the time because medieval religion had taught that these pagan authors had been able to access Christian revelation placed in the universe at the dawn of time and Protestantism had no organised way of countering these claims. Similarly, Lodge and others revived the moralisations which had been ascribed to Thomas Walleys. This gave informed readers the license to take a moralising approach to the latter-day fabulous forms. Shakespeare's plants remain rooted in fabulous and moralised literary worlds so that they argue for a more comprehensive religion that could account for pagan and Christian mysteries. Finally, the fabulous verse narratives include botanic relics of saints which reflect counter-reformation interest in Saint Winefride's well. To conclude, Shakespeare's plants attest to a Christian redemption located in the British landscape and the changing seasons. At a time when the sacred was being relocated in the historical past and on the scriptural page, Shakespeare reaffirmed the claims of the Book of Nature through fable and ritual drama.
Supervisor: Henderson, F. ; Schwyzer, P. ; Edwards, K. ; Prance, G. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Shakespeare ; Reformation ; Botany ; Ethnobotany