Steve Sohmer
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‘Doubt thou the starres are fire’
The new philosophy in Hamlet
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Hamlet is bandying matters of cosmology which were the burning issues throughout William Shakespeare's lifetime. The author's own view is that Shakespeare's religious opinions reflected the complexities, and relative tolerance of Queen Elizabeth I's Religious Settlement. There are any numbers of Catholics in Shakespeare's plays just as there were such persons in his family, his England, and in Europe. Shakespeare regularly alludes to rituals of the old Church baptism in Comedy of Errors, shriving and confession in Hamlet, creeping to the cross in Julius Caesar, pilgrimage in All's Well, and Holy Saturday rituals in Othello. In Hamlet Shakespeare even treats Purgatory with respect. None of this proves beyond doubt that Shakespeare was Catholic. But it does prove he was tolerant. Shakespeare's Old Hamlet was Catholic. For Hamlet and Horatio Purgatory does not exist; for Old Hamlet's Ghost it does.

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Shakespeare for the wiser sort

Solving Shakespeare’s riddles in The Comedy of Errors, Romeo and Juliet, King John, 1–2 Henry IV, The Merchant of Venice, Henry V, Julius Caesar, Othello, Macbeth and Cymberline

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