Catholicism In The Life Of Shakespeare

1491 words - 6 pages

In Shakespeare’s time, 1564-1616, practicing Catholicism was illegal in England. Some historians have claimed that William Shakespeare was Catholic and hid this fact out of fear of persecution. Others go as far as to say that Shakespeare shaped parts of his plays after his own Catholic beliefs. Between Shakespeare’s youth upbringing, education, and the availability of Catholic literature, William Shakespeare had a basis if not a belief in the Catholic faith.
There are many Shakespearean experts who hold true to the belief that Shakespeare was a Protestant as was the custom of the time in England. Those who are in this manner of belief, point out the one thing that can be universally agreed on in the debate, the fact that there is no concrete evidence in the case for Shakespeare’s Catholicism. There is however a plethora of potential and speculative evidence to support the idea that William Shakespeare was a Catholic.
Although it was illegal to practice Catholicism in Shakespeare’s youth, this was a fairly new practice, less than fifty years old, meaning that Shakespeare’s elder relatives could easily have been Catholic previously. This possibility is accepted by many, including David Beauregard who writes, “It has long been known, of course, that Shakespeare’s family background was heavily Catholic.” (15) In George Seibel’s book, The Religion of Shakespeare, he cites about Shakespeare’s youth and specifically his father that; “He [Shakespeare] was passed amid Catholic influences, for there seems no room for reasonable doubt that his father was ‘a Popish recusant’ and suffered many things as such.” (6) This is not definitive proof by any means that Shakespeare or his father, John, was Catholic. If John Shakespeare was Catholic though, William would have at the very least known much about the faith, its practices, customs, and beliefs. Another possible link to Catholicism in Shakespeare’s youth would be his mother, Mary Arden. It has been shown that Mary came from the Catholic Arden family and was herself Catholic. (Beauregard 15) Marrying Mary, John presumably sympathized with or was Catholic. Even if Shakespeare’s family did not raise him in a strictly Catholic upbringing, he had to have come in contact with the Bible and the scriptures within it. Seibel writes, “Even if Shakespeare did not read it [the Bible], he could not escape it.” (17) The Bible was one of the most widely available texts at that time and its language and verses were widely spread and known throughout much of England. (Seibel 17) If Shakespeare’s family was Catholic they would not have been alone in their faith in the community of Stratford. Patrick Collinson, a leading Elizabethan historian and Emeritus Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge, suggests that, “It is probable that most members of this community [Stratford] were church papists” (quoted in Beauregard 16)
It is widely believed that Shakespeare attended the King’s New School in...

Find Another Essay On Catholicism in the Life of Shakespeare

The Life and Impact of William Shakespeare

1905 words - 8 pages William Shakespeare was considered one of the greatest playwrights the world has ever known. Did events in his childhood lead to this? Did his education play a role in his success? William Shakespeare was a very influential person of the 1600's and 1700's, who also had a great impact on our literary world. Shakespeare's actual birth date is unknown, but records of his baptism on 26, April 1564 leads most historians to believe his actual birth

Life of William Shakespeare Essay

652 words - 3 pages years'. There were no records of his life. Some scholars believe he was living in London serving as an apprentice. Others believe he retreated and wrote under a fake name. Very little was known about him before the age of 28. When he moved to London, he joined an acting group. He had no experience. He was merely a performer. William Shakespeare was an important part of a troupe called the Lord Chamberlains Men. He eventually became an honored senior

Life of William Shakespeare

2393 words - 10 pages Stratford-Upon-Avon, spent his professional life in London, and returned to Stratford a wealthy landowner. A legend states that he left Stratford because he had been caught poaching deer from the estate of a powerful squire four miles upstream. On March 25th 1616, Shakespeare signed his own will. On April 23rd 1616, William Shakespeare died on his fifty-second birthday from a fever contracted after an evening of entertaining with fellow writers, Ben

The History of Catholicism an How Its Depicted

1543 words - 6 pages The History of Catholicism an How Its Depicted The series of events which form the history of Catholicism in the mid sixteenth century are most often depicted as follows. A violent shock causes the very foundations of Christendom to tremble, and whole sections of the Church's ancient edifice are swallowed up in heresy. Her rulers then drag themselves from their lethal indifference; they determine to oppose the Protestant menace, and

Life of Shakespeare

1126 words - 5 pages Well-known throughout the world, the works of William Shakespeare have been performed in countless theatres in different hamlets, villages, and cities for more than 400 years. And yet, the person behind it is somewhat of a mystery to us. The only sources we have of his life are either his work (plays, poems and sonnets) or church and court records However, these only provide an outline and brief sketches of certain events in his life and provide

Life of William Shakespeare

1614 words - 6 pages and Juliet, Shakespeare mixes the humor of Mercutio and Juliet's nurse into a serious tragedy. Not many playwrites of this time mixed comedy with tragedy, but he did this because the two elements combine in real life and he felt they were free to combine in his plays.None of the critics who had praised his poems ever mentioned his plays. However, he was singled out by Francis Meres, a London writer. Meres stated, 'Shakespeare among the English is

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare: The Jocular Struggle in Life

2262 words - 9 pages work at Orsino's palace. These disguises that trick Orsino and Viola’s eyes are what initiate Viola’s journey to find love and self-morality. In Viola’s case “the eyes" are "the windows to the soul”(Shakespeare), as she says “I love More than I love these eyes, more than my life, More, by all mores, than e'er I shall love wife. If I do feign, you witnesses above punish my life for tainting of my love!”(Twelfth Night V.I 60.). The eyes patently

Shakespeare And Catholicism

1258 words - 5 pages was anti-Catholic in nature and affirmed Queen Elizabeth I as the head of the Church of England (Milward 18-19). Later in his life, when John's fortunes had slipped some, his attendance in Protestant meetings stopped (Milward 19). Other evidence of John's adherence to Catholicism comes from an archaeological find. A spiritual testament of John Shakespeare was found after his death. Spiritual testaments were popular among English Catholics of

The Role of Plagiarism in Shakespeare

932 words - 4 pages status (Wheeler). Also, by the late 1590’s Shakespeare had become thoroughly familiar with what was going on in the great capitals of Europe; it was fairly unusual for common folk to know much about politics as well as what might be happening within the capitals. Even after William Shakespeare’s death, nothing was found that could prove that he had no plagiarized the works of others. He left nothing that could be used to verify his life as a

Difference in the Christianity and Catholicism as Shown by Una and Duessa.

2041 words - 8 pages to Una, is Duessa. She represents the allegory of sin, lust, and anti-faith. Duessa also represents the Roman Church, in Spenser eyes, Catholicism was false, and not a true faith. Throughout Book one she tempt Redcrosse and often leads him to sin; House of Pride and the Giant. She does continue on Redcrosse’s quest as a positive character though she is there throughout most of Book one. Unlike Una she is not the faith walking with Redcrosse

Buddhism vs Catholicism. Define two rituals within each religion and discuss the meaning of these rituals

1645 words - 7 pages letting them live the way Jesus lived his life. The ceremony of Baptism takes place in 6 parts. The parents and the selected godparents of the child are asked what their intentions are. Prayers are made and a couple of readings are taken out of the bible. The blessing of the child is then made and the Priest touches the child's forehead with the holy water. The water is a symbol of washing away a person's sins. The child is clothed in a white garment

Similar Essays

The Transformation Of Roman Catholicism Essay

3762 words - 15 pages councils of Trent, Vatican I and II was believed to have been needed in order to look ay the way in which the Christian tradition encapsulates the truth of the religion. Both the Vatican councils attempted to transform Roman Catholicism. Before I can first look at Kungs objections to the concept of an infallible church, I believe I need to establish what the Roman Catholic church meant by the concept of 'infallible' and

The Life Of William Shakespeare Essay

1733 words - 7 pages overwhelming impression on readers and spectators alike that the play must have emerged in an unusually direct way from the playwright’s inner life, indeed that at moments the playwright was barely in control of his materials” (The Death of Hamnet...). This influenced Shakespeare’s life greatly after losing his one and only son. There is not much recorded about Shakespeare’s life during this time, but it when Shakespeare disappeared from all

The Effects Of Catholicism On The Education Of Women In Renaissance Italy

4141 words - 17 pages was written in a question and answer format, a dialogue between a disciple and a religious instructor, who explore theological as well as practical issues of Catholicism. It is divided in three parts, each increasing in complexity. Its aim was, much like the “Summario”, to teach young boys and girls the principles and customs of a fine Christian way of life.      The Schools of the Christian Doctrine met on Sundays and religious holidays (a total

The Life And Works Of William Shakespeare

1260 words - 5 pages Harris 6Albrenda HarrisProfessor Pangikas-MillerWorld Literature10/09/2014Textual ResearchThe Life and Works of William ShakespeareChildhood, Education, and MarriageWilliam Shakespeare was born in a market town one hundred miles northwest of London, by the name of Stratford-upon-Avon on April twenty-second or twenty- third, in the year fifteen sixty-four. After his third to fourth day of life he was baptized in his hometown on the twenty sixth