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By D. Coleman

Drama and the Sacraments in Sixteenth-Century England is the 1st book-length research of the connection among early smooth drama and sacramental ritual and theology. The booklet examines quite a number dramatic varieties, together with morality performs, Tudor interludes and the Elizabethan expert degree. supplying new insights into the spiritual practices on which early smooth subjectivity is based, David Coleman either uncovers overlooked texts and records, and provides radical new methods of examining canonical Renaissance performs.

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Extra resources for Drama and the Sacraments in Sixteenth-Century England: Indelible Characters (Early Modern Literature in History)

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This distinction between living word and empty ritual runs throughout the play, notably in Treason’s boast that “In the place of Christ I have sett up supersticyons;/For preachynges, ceremonyes, for Gods wurde, mennys tradicyons” (1823–4), and Sedition’s prophecy that “[t]he Popes ceremonyes shall drowne the Gospell styll” (2523). 5 Yet there is an acknowledgement of the power of ritual in Bale’s drama. The significance attached to the ritual performance of baptism in Johan Baptystes Preachynge contrasts with the theatrical evacuation (to borrow a term from Stephen Greenblatt) of confession in King Johan.

Jonathas, considering his plan to buy the host from Aristorius, is confident that the ideology of trade will prove more influential than the ideological differences of religion: “With him to bey and to sel I am of powere prest For gold and silver I am nothing agast/But that we shall get that cake to ower paye” (225–8). The scene of bargaining between Jonathas and Aristorius similarly draws heavily on the language of trade and mercantile exchange; Jonathas outlines his material wealth – “I have clothe of gold, precious stons, and spicys plenté” (275) – and approaches Aristorius as a fellow-merchant: “With yow a bargen wold I make” (276).

For this suggests something of the sense of interiority which the ritual performance of the eucharist (and the other sacraments) contributes to, but which conventional didacticism seeks in large part to deny. The anxious subjectivity which is the opposite of a peaceful soul makes its presence felt in a number of cultural artefacts of the fifteenth century. The functions of the eucharist, of course, are significant here; for if the eucharist is constructed as the supreme manifestation of the community of Christianity, it also has a significant role to play for the individual Christian, offering him or her the potential of a personal union with Christ.

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