GREENBLATT SHAKESPEARE AND THE EXORCISTS PDF

Like sociology and anthropology, the study of art and literature, especially the art and literature of the Renaissance, seems to be taking a historical turn in the Eighties. To a historian like myself this trend is obviously encouraging. Why should it be considered subversive to replace literary texts in their historical contexts? Is the movement dangerous because it is historicist or because it is new? According to Greenblatt, however, the relation between the two works is far closer than that.

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Greenblatt covers many ideas in his essay, but essentially develops a progressive relationship between religious ceremony and the theater. The English church rules the people, and is upset by the presence of Catholics performing exorcisms. Harsnett desires to deconstruct exorcism. Because they are conducted by Catholic Jesuit priests, they threaten the power of the English church.

He deconstructs exorcisms as theater, with the exception that exorcism is deceptive and manipulates and fools the masses, opposed to theater that requests the audience to surrender their disbelief. The effect is that exorcism and religion as a whole is emptied of its significance and only retains meaning as a metaphor.

While this is the broad scope of his work, Greenblatt brings to light the problems Harsnett creates when discrediting exorcism. At one point in the text, he says that the church is not willing to discredit exorcisms by denying the existence of demons, because in turn, that denies the existence of God.

The English church, which is the state, the controlling government, then has to walk a very fine line to address the problem without undoing itself in the process. It becomes what it is trying to destroy. Because exorcisms are not limited to the Catholic faith alone, Greenblatt explores some of its communal meanings. It serves as a tool to cleanse not just the individual, but the community of participants.

It keeps the community in check and helps everyone abide by cultural norms. Instead of destroying it outright, which would create many problems, he deconstructs it to an act of theater, and exposes its deception. In one of our forum conversations, Dr. Exorcisms, as pointed out by Harsnett, are deceptive because they call real what is fiction. In his use of religious language, clothing, and ritual embedded into a story where people call on the supernatural, the only continuous response is silence.

There is no redemption. There is no divine intervention, neither good nor evil. The actors are known. The audience joins and leaves the entertainment as it wants. There is no motivation from the theater to control and rule. There is no manipulation into belief, but an invitation to suspend disbelief. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account.

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Shakespeare and the Exorcists

Greenblatt covers many ideas in his essay, but essentially develops a progressive relationship between religious ceremony and the theater. The English church rules the people, and is upset by the presence of Catholics performing exorcisms. Harsnett desires to deconstruct exorcism. Because they are conducted by Catholic Jesuit priests, they threaten the power of the English church. He deconstructs exorcisms as theater, with the exception that exorcism is deceptive and manipulates and fools the masses, opposed to theater that requests the audience to surrender their disbelief. The effect is that exorcism and religion as a whole is emptied of its significance and only retains meaning as a metaphor.

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