Tragic mediation in The White Devil
in Forms of faith
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For decades, John Webster's The White Devil has been pushed and pulled between the poles 'early' and 'modern'. On one end is the claim that the play in fact offers a complexly moralist, even providentialist worldview. On the other end is the reading of The White Devil as a cynical, even radical tragedy. This tragedy bears witness to a culture facing nihilistic anxieties and represents the many subversive tendencies of early modern English tragedies more generally. This chapter expresses that The White Devil, with its many religious references and performances, offers less than moralism, more than cynicism. Following the longstanding evaluation of religion in early modern English studies, the chapter re-examines the purpose of religious performance, cynicism, and meta-theatricality in The White Devil. The White Devil is especially attuned to religious mediation as a process of inter-subjectivity.

Forms of faith

Literary form and religious conflict in early modern England



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