|William Shakespeare (1610 Portrait)|
People are wondering whether Shakespeare was religious or not as much as Hamlet was wondering whether to exist or not.
It seems that the famous bard of Stratford never quite came out with definitive statements about his own religious views. Certainly this evasiveness wasn’t due to a lack of language-arts skills. Therefore, why is it that we just don’t know much about Shakespeare’s spiritual leanings?
Wikipedia explains that during Elizabethan times, religion was an especially hot-button topic. Recusancy Acts imposed punishments
upon those Catholic-leaning adherents who refused to participate in Anglican religious practices.
There is much debate over whether Shakespeare himself was one of those recusants. Although his father, John Shakespeare, did not attend church, that could have been “for feare of processe for Debtte,” rather than because of any religious conflicts. Although his daughter Susanna refused to take Anglican Communion one Easter, that could have been because of Puritan rather than Catholic sympathies.
On the other hand, Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Arden, came from a “conspicuous and determinedly Catholic family…” Shakespeare’s wedding to Anne Hathaway is said to have been officiated by a Catholic priest, John Frith, “who maintained the appearance of Protestantism.”
Then there are the analysts who believe that Shakespeare was neither Protestant nor Catholic, but instead a non-Christian (and perhaps even an atheist). For example, Russian scholar Vadim Nikoleyav claims that the bard “put forward anti-church ideas and did not consider suicide a sin.”
Copyright April 23, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke All Rights Reserved