resemblance do not necessarily find it to be problematic. According to C. S. Lewis’s influential argument, Spenser deliberately reappropriates rejected forms of piety through allegory, prompting the reader to actively interpret – and so rehabilitate – ‘Catholic’ images. In a similar vein, Frye says of Una: ‘note that she’s dressed as a nun, an allegory the R. C. Ch. [Roman CatholicChurch] takes literally’. 33 In the view of both Lewis and Frye, to assume that Red Crosse’s lady endorses Catholicism because she looks like a nun, or that the House of Holiness does likewise
Faerie Queene ’, Spenser Studies , 22 (2007), 103–25. The fact that Spenser promotes thought does not mean he resolves what Fletcher sees as Spenser’s ‘core of profound ambivalence’ ( Allegory , 273).
15 On Spenserian ‘idealism’, see Kenneth Borris, Visionary Spenser and the Poetics of Early Modern Platonism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).
16 See Carey, John Donne , on ‘the two vital factors in his career, his desertion of the Roman CatholicChurch and his ambition’ (14). On Donne’s Protestantism, see
knowledge was poor and access to doctors limited; most people had little education or power to control their living conditions. In the face of a void of understanding, comforting and terrifying narratives entered the vacuum.
Supernatural agency could fill this existential or experiential void, positing a seemingly rational explanation for otherwise inexplicable occurrences. The ghost, in particular, exemplifies the porous border between the natural and the supernatural. For the CatholicChurch, the ghost was a soul in Purgatory, caught in limbo between
The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night
by mercy and redemption. Several other personages are similarly summoned, however, while only the Merchant is saved, so the self-applied label of ‘tragedy’ proves to be apt. The presentational style and didactic technique are typical of Reformation polemic. The eponymous protagonist is unequivocally sinful, having lecherously fathered Gain (or Usury) on the strumpet Fortune; after the message of death, his conscience, personified, torments him, as does Satan. The remedies of the Catholicchurch, proposed by a priest, naturally cannot save him, but at the direction
Shakespeare’s lifetime. 1
In the eyes and canons of the CatholicChurch the creation
myth of Genesis – the so-called ‘Mosaic cosmogony’
– was received as literal history. Believers were required
to accept that God, at a stroke, had created the universe from
nothingness – productio totius substantia ex nihilo sui et
subjecti; or, as the Old Testament book of the Maccabees put it
Gender and generation in Robert Southwell’s Epistle to his father
has effectively buried him alive, just as he had been considered
dead to his family upon his entry into the Catholicchurch.
Generation has slipped into degeneration, and the tree is
‘barren and fruitless’.
Southwell is not alone in subverting this traditional
image of generation. It is an unfortunate consequence of
Southwell’s singular biography, and particularly the isolating
of the false Sorceresse.
The false sorceress, naturally, is the Roman CatholicChurch, about whom
The pastoral frame story thus contains certain familiar conventions,
such as the insistent sheep metaphors and imagery at the beginning
and after the end of Willy’s monologue, as well as the movement from
country to city and back again with news, as occurs in “September” of
The Shepheardes Calender and in Colin Clouts Come Home Againe. Willy
can tell Thenot about the events of the Plot and its foiling because he
was in the city five days earlier
of a Catholicchurch, the
regular progress around which was a sobering reminder to the lettered
and unlettered alike. Even before the Reformation, when still up on
church walls, such images had probably lost much of their poignancy,
dulled by their familiarity and air of stiff antiquity. How long had it
been since anyone had looked at the angels on the church roofs, now shot
down like so many birds
Catholicchurch and address specific practices and aspects of doctrine which encouraged superstition and exploited the laity. The reforms instituted by Luther in 1517 included the elimination of Catholic practices such as the worship of saints, recognition of the authority of the Pope and belief in purgatory. The sacraments were reduced from seven to two to include just baptism and the Eucharist. The elimination of the sacrament of confession for example, whereby individuals could receive penance and absolution for their sins from a priest, redefined the nature of the
Clarendon, Cressy and Hobbes, and the past, present and future of the Church of England
had been intensely wary, of extending royal intervention in the Church
much further than was necessary to ensure the maintenance of religious
peace within a structure of uniformity; of bringing into being forces that
might use royal patronage to chip away at the position of the Church of
England, even, perhaps, to permit the toleration of the CatholicChurch.
An attempt to assert the Crown’s prerogative powers over the Church and
the laws concerning religion in 1663 had been resisted by Clarendon at
much political cost. The debate over comprehension in 1667