"A jest's prosperity lies in the ear / Of him that hears it, never in the tongue / Of him that makes it"
KeywordsProtestantism, Religion in the Plays, Roman Catholicism, Shakespeare, Spaniard and Moor
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Stony Brook University Libraries. SBU Graduate School in Department of English. Charles Taber (Dean of Graduate School).
After fifty years of religious upheaval, the question of religion continued to be a sociopolitical problem throughout the reign of Elizabeth I and into the reign of James I. Through his characters crises of identity and through the attempted incursion of Roman Catholicism into society by characters' aligned with Spain, Shakespeare addresses England's anxiety over religious identity. By portraying the difference between Protestant and Roman Catholic ideology and rite, Shakespeare reflects the relationship between the Catholic and Protestant psychologies by flavoring his plays, throughout his career, with nuggets of Roman Catholic doctrine; these are not mementos, but rather instances wherein the practice of Catholic doctrine subverts the meaning of the doctrine.