Title

The undiscovered countries: Shakespeare and the Afterlife

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-1-2019

Keywords

Afterlife, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, Henry V, King Lear, Macbeth, Measure for measure, Merchant of venice, Othello, Richard III, Titus andronicus

Abstract

The multiple uses of religion in Shakespeare’s plays seem to counter each other at every turn. In one respect, though, I have found a surprising consistency. Moments when Shakespeare’s drama imagines the afterlife are moments that lend significant insights into the play’s action or characterization, even though the image of one undiscovered country may differ drastically from another. Across the canon, the afterlife may appear as a place of religious judgment, as in Othello, Hamlet, Merchant of Venice; as a classical Elysium or Hades where the spirit or shadow removes elsewhere (Antony and Cleopatra, Titus Andronicus); as Abraham’s Bosom-a place of rest between death and the Last Judgment (Henry V, Richard III, Hamlet); or an unidentifiable life to come (Measure for Measure, Macbeth, King Lear).

Publication Title

Religions

E-ISSN

20771444

Volume

10

Issue

3

DOI

10.3390/rel10030174

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