Tag Archives: Queen Elizabeth I

How the 17th-Century Religious Question Influenced Shakespeare’s works

This is an interesting question for any writer, no matter what century he or she lives/lived in, and merits a post about Shakespeare’s thinking as he wrote his plays, as well as how modern day writing is influenced by religion, or if it is at all anymore!

This section of Craig’s Shakespeare follows: “After Elizabeth came to the throne there was a bitter reaction against the Catholics. Those Protestants who fled abroad to avoid persecution under Queen Mary brought back with them continental ideas of theology and a new and stiffer type of Protestantism. The Church of England assumed a middle position between this extreme Protestantism and Catholicism; this was the position of Burghley and of Queen Elizabeth (as I expound in my novel “Blood and Ink”). By the middle of her reign extreme Protestantism, commonly called Puritanism, was expressing itself either in Presbyterianism or Independency, and the time came when it offered a violent attack on the middle position held by the Church of England. Shakespeare hardly shows himself aware of this powerful and pregnant force. His allusions to the Puritans are few and indefinite, but they have been thought to be scornful. His position on religious matters was probably that of the Queen. He is equally noncommital as regards the Church of Rome, although he shows a sympathetic understanding of the institutions of the Catholic church in Hamlet, King John, and elsewhere.”

This is very interesting, as the whole “non-commital” stance that Craig points out. I do believe that as a playwright, one who had the ear of the Queen (and possibly an entirely different writer as “Blood and Ink” alludes), this goes hand in hand with my thoughts on his possible compromise to promote his works. Keep quiet so the higher powers will continue to patron his works.

I think it is interesting to what extent many artists, and writers, and so on, will go to in an attempt to promote their works. Some compromise their beliefs, their morals, and their own integrity to make money, to commercialize instead of maintaining their love for their own artistry. I am not saying this is what Shakespeare did, for as we are well aware, his works speak for themselves; but at what cost? We may never know, well, for sure we don’t have the present opportunity to speak with the man himself and ask him what he sacrificed in order to see his works come to fruition. He may have sacrificed his beliefs and stayed quiet in order to appease the Queen, he may have sacrificed his life in Stratford-upon-Avon with his wife and children to see his works upon the stage. Who knows?

But the idea makes us, as modern writers, sit back and peruse these thoughts in relation to our own writing. What are we willing to sacrifice to see our works in print? To see them become best sellers? Our time? Our beliefs? Our family? Our name?

For my part, I will gladly sacrifice the words on a page, my writing, if it meant losing any of those things; but that is just me…. what about you?

Thanks for reading and following!

D. K. Marley

Book Review – “the Last Blast of the Trumpet” by Marie Macpherson

I had to take a few days to really ponder over this review for “The Last Blast of the Trumpet”; to sort of let the words sink in and absorb them into my mind and soul. Another reviewer compared this book to Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” books and to a certain extent I must agree. I adored Mantel’s books and while Macpherson’s novel, to me, has similarities to her incredible series, there are unique differences that will draw in fans of “Wolf Hall”. Such as, the total immersion into the life of John Knox, as Mantel did with Cromwell. I found myself vacillating back and forth between liking his character and not liking his character, the same as I did with the entire novel. There were times I could not put it down and other times I felt tired over the abundance of flourishing words. Abundant but necessary. I admire Macpherson’s ability to tackle the atmosphere of the time in the use of the language, having the characters actually speak as they might have spoken by using certain phrasing and verbiage only used by Scots. For that I say, bravo, Ms Macpherson, for I am a lover of the beauty of words. That being said, I must use a caveat here and say that the tiredness I felt was from an audacious application of alliteration throughout the entire novel. At first I loved it but after the tenth or so time I found myself trying to locate the next alliterative phrase which distracted me from the storyline. However, I’m not sure this will be a hindrance for most, it was just something that irritated me since I am the OCD sort.

Now, for the story itself. As most other reviewers re-summarize the story, I shall just hit the highlights. During the Tudor era, John Knox was the foremost religious reformer and revolutionist against Catholicism, pitting him against Mary, Queen of Scots, and aligning himself with supporters such as Queen Elizabeth of England and her renowned advisor, William Cecil; all against the backdrop of Scotland. I, like most other reviewers, found the sections dealing with his home-life drawing me closer to his character while his religious life made me feel quite the opposite. To this I say, bravo, again, Ms Macpherson for developing such a well-rounded character, a true three-dimensional person who leapt from the page. The other details of the storyline, including the well-known aspects of Queen Mary, were detailed and immersive, revealing things I did not know or bringing them back to mind, such as the fact that Prioress Elisabeth Hepburn was Knox’s godmother.

I definitely recommend this read and think anyone who loved Hilary Mantel’s books will love this one, as well. It is deep, well-researched, and a good book for reflecting on a powerful and influential man in not only Scottish history but world history. As this is the third in the series and where I began, I am looking forward to going back to book one and two to fill in the rest of the history of his life.