carnival, Christianity, Shakespeare, Bakhtin, satire, medieval, mockery, tradition, King Lear, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream
The moral complexity of Shakespeare’s work is created by balancing carnival elements such as subversion of authority, plays within plays, and ascension of thrones, with Christian elements such as repentance, the supernatural, and forgiveness. Far from being didactic or moralizing, Shakespeare’s plays—specifically King Lear, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Hamlet—frequently inhabit an ethical shadowland, in which right becomes wrong and wrong becomes right. This intricacy renders even the simplest of his plots an interesting exploration of human consciousness. But Shakespeare never exalts Christianity at the expense of the carnival nor the carnival at the expense of Christianity—rather, he seems to be using both to portray the folly of human judgment. In his plays, Shakespeare exposes the faults of both the natural and the Christian man, preparing audiences for a supernatural other, whose authority Shakespeare uses to provide hope in the face of mankind’s folly.
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Cozzens, Micah E., "The Shadowland of Shakespeare: Christianity and the Carnival" (2017). Student Publications. 197.
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