Tag Archives: Genesis

Genesis in Shakespeare

Image: “Jacob and Laban”, Jean Restout II (1692-1768), Before 1737

Shakespeare was no dope: his writing reflects his deep understanding of the cumulative nature of storytelling and the intense influences of early texts, including the bible, on modern writing. The Merchant of Venice synthesizes this relationship, borrowing from the bible in order to comment on the anti-Semitism that was prevalent in Elizabethan England. In particular, Shakespeare incorporates a story from Genesis directly into the play during an argument between Shylot and Antonio over the correct interest rate to charge. This story, involving an agreement reached between Jacob and his uncle Laban, not only serves as fodder for Shylot’s argument, but also additionally provides historical and biblical firepower to the story of Shylot’s downfall and eventual ‘salvation’. Continue reading

Apple of his eye

A speculative religious reading of A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

In a way that is all but straightforward, Shakespeare weaves repeated invocations of serpentine imagery, delineates characters on gendered lines, and overlays a driving tension between fate and free will. Accidental or intended, these features invite a connection of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to foundational Christian theology, specifically to the story of Genesis.

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford   http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/

Fall of Princes. John Lydgate. 15th century. The Garden of Eden or Shakespeare’s fairy woods?

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