Shakespeare And Catholicism Essay

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By researching the life and writings of William Shakespeare, it can be shown that many Christian values and beliefs are displayed through his literary works. In order to understand the religious content in Shakespeare's work it is helpful to first understand what the religious environment in England was like around Shakespeare's time. England, ever since it was ruled by the Romans, had been a Catholic nation. Before Shakespeare's lifetime, a drastic change occurred that completely upended the existing Catholicism of the English people. During King Henry VIII's reign, the English people were, for the most part, content with Catholicism. Through a series of very complex political maneuvers, Henry eventually seized power of the English…show more content…
Being a small town meant that these religious changes occurred more slowly and later than they did in London. As with the majority of English towns, Stratford did not welcome the reformations of their religion imposed by the state (Milward 17). In time, the town bore these mandated changes out of necessity. There is some evidence that Shakespeare's parents were Catholic before the Reformation and remained so at heart after it. John Shakespeare, William's father, held a high position in Stratford. At one point in his life, in order to receive a promotion, John had to take an oath that 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 that time. They were professions of adherence to the Catholic faith (Milward 21). Shakespeare's mother, Mary, came from a devout Catholic family that held positions throughout the Catholic church before its demise in England (Milward 21). Shakespeare's family appears, at most, nominally Protestant, merely for the purpose of remaining a functioning part of Stratford (Milward 22). Once John's
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