Shakespeare's Catholicism: A Critical Analysis of the Bard's Life and Plays
By: Joseph Pearce
Publisher: Saint Benedict Press, LLC
Imprint: Catholic Courses
Publication Date: 2011
Dimensions: 5.5" X 7.5" X 1"
In Shakespeare's Catholicism, Joseph Pearce presents biographical and literary evidence proving the Bard's adherence to the true Faith in a time of persecution and upheaval in Elizabethan England. Professor Pearce reveals little-known details of Shakespeare's life, including his Catholic education, openly Catholic father and daughter, his friendship with Jesuit martyr St. Robert Southwell, and his purchase of the Blackfriar's Gatehouse - a known hub for underground Catholic liturgy.
Among the plays discussed in light of Shakespeare's faith, is Romeo & Juliet - possibly the most famous love story ever told. Far from taking a popular interpretation of their star-crossed love, Professor Pearce illustrates Romeo's egocentric obsession with Juliet, the destruction of her childhood innocence, and the fault of all the mature figures in the play who fail to protect her.
Professor Pearce tackles the charge of "anti-semitism" in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice - clearing the air for the Bard's true use of Shylock as an anti-hero. He illustrates the spiritual symbolism of the relationship between Venice and Belmont and Portia's role as a literary icon of grace, similar to Dante's Beatrice.
Examining the plot of Shakespeare's most famous and most misunderstood play, Hamlet, Pearce highlights the tension that exists between the sanity and sanctity of his heroes - who exhibit characteristics of the saints - and the sin and cynicism of his villains - who portray the Machiavellian machinations of the liar and the tyrant.
Macbeth presents two starkly different visions of kingship, according to Professor Pearce, one which is rooted in the Catholic medieval understanding of kingship, the other in the cynical pragmatism of Machiavelli's Prince. Macbeth is Hamlet's opposite - while Hamlet knows there is concrete truth and morality in life, Macbeth loses his head and soul in succumbing to relativism and his own sin-deceived ego.
Like Hamlet, King Lear is not only one of Shakespeare's greatest plays but also one of his most abused and misrepresented. King Lear is best compared with a modern work like George Orwell's 1984 because it is a clarion cry against the abuses of centralized power. Shakespeare's play does not end with the triumph of tyranny but with the triumph of humility, and the sanctity and sanity which are its fruits.
Hear the evidence and decide for yourself - Shakespeare was a Catholic and his plays attest to his deep and powerful faith.
Joseph Pearce is Writer in Residence and Visiting Fellow at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, NH. He is a renowned biographer whose books include Candles in the Dark: The Authorized Biography of Fr. Ho Lung, Missionaries of the Poor (Saint Benedict Press, 2012); Through Shakespeare's Eyes: Seeing the Catholic Presence in the Plays (Ignatius Press, 2010); and Tolkien: Man and Myth, a Literary Life (HarperCollins, 1998). He is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Higher Education from Thomas More College for the Liberal Arts and the Pollock Award for Christian Biography. He is co-editor of the St. Austin Review, editor-in-Chief of Ignatius Press Critical Editions, and editor-in-Chief of Sapientia Press.
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