Against “Shakespeare was Catholic” conspiracy theorizing

Remember, any “hidden meanings” in a play that you could catch at a four century cultural remove would have been completely obvious to the original audiences and to the Elizabethan police.  Don’t be like those people who think they can figure out how the Apostles misinterpreted Jesus.

7 Responses

  1. […] Against “Shakespeare was Catholic” conspiracy theorizing […]

  2. But remember, Harry Potter is a profoundly Catholic work. That “J.K. Rowling” authoress is an invention of slanderers who fail to see the profundity of Hogwarts.

  3. The Elizabethan police were pretty relaxed compared to the modern PC police. It was far safer to deviate from their official religion than from ours. And you could (carefully) take a dig at royalty in ways that today you could never take a dig at blacks or women.

    So it is perfectly reasonable to believe that Shakespeare did not adhere to the official beliefs, and this was entirely transparent to Elizabethans who just did not care provided he did not stand up and loudly preach at them about it.

  4. People didn’t become Protestant overnight, it took several generations. The majority would still have been Catholic in Shakespeare’s lifetime. I would be inclined to think that if he had become a member of the Protestant establishment he would have been much more blatant about it, while remaining a Catholic would have required a cautious reserve which his works seem to display.

  5. If I could look into the minds of Englishmen of that time, here’s what I’d expect to find:

    “Kings and popes have argued before, and they always made up eventually. England has switched back and forth between Protestant and Catholic twice and may well do so another few times. Anybody who sticks his neck out and gets himself killed over these arguments, like More and Cranmer did, is just being stupid.”

  6. I think there’s a not-stupid argument that Shakespeare was Catholic based on historical and biographical details — I haven’t looked at it much personally, but people whose opinions I generally trust say it’s a plausible case (recusants among his relatives, to start with).

    But note that this isn’t the same thing as finding a secret code in the plays: that way lies Baconianism and similar monomanias.

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