Download Wonder in Shakespeare by Adam Max Cohen (auth.) PDF

By Adam Max Cohen (auth.)

ISBN-10: 1137011629

ISBN-13: 9781137011626

ISBN-10: 134928985X

ISBN-13: 9781349289851

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After Lear turns Kent away he thinks he hears Cordelia’s voice: “Ha! 308–309). 97–98). He dies grieving Cordelia even as he delights in the fantasy of her revival. Summing up the entire play in response to Edgar’s simple statement, “He is gone, indeed,” Kent asserts, “The wonder is, he hath endured so long. 315–16). This statement neatly links wonder and resurrection, suggesting that the wonder of Lear’s latter days was his ability to steal or at least temporarily borrow his life from Death. At the play’s end, Lear pays his ultimate debt to Death, but the order of his kingdom is ultimately restored.

It is interesting that we see so many ghostly 46 ● Wonder in Shakespeare resurrections in the plays because the official church position on this matter was that ghosts did not exist, nor could human bodies rise from the dead except at the resurrection at the end of days. This official doctrine had little impact on local superstition, however. The persistent fusion of dead corpse and incorporeal spirit in Shakespeare’s plays can be read in a number of ways. It may indicate the early modern English understanding of ghosts, or from a more pragmatic standpoint it may even be a function of theatrical necessity.

The cycle plays themselves consistently emphasized the wonder of Christ’s resurrection and the wonders of the resurrection of the Christian faithful to come. When Reformers suppressed the cycle plays due to their basis in the celebration of the Eucharist and their importance to Catholic ritual more generally, Protestant dramatists stepped in to craft Resurrection plays that also emphasized the wonder of Christ’s resurrection. In one such play, thought to be written by Bishop Bale between 1530 and 1560, the soldiers commissioned to guard Christ’s sepulcher are wonderstruck when an angel descends and Christ rises from the tomb.

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