In Shakespeare's Catholicism, Joseph Pearce presents biographical and literary evidence proving the Bard's adherence to the true Faith in a time of persecution and upheaval in Elizabethan England. Professor Pearce reveals little-known details of Shakespeare's life, including his Catholic education, openly Catholic father and daughter, his friendship with Jesuit martyr St. Robert Southwell, and his purchase of the Blackfriar's Gatehouse - a known hub for underground Catholic liturgy.
Among the plays discussed in light of Shakespeare's faith, is Romeo & Juliet - possibly the most famous love story ever told. Far from taking a popular interpretation of their star-crossed love, Professor Pearce illustrates Romeo's egocentric obsession with Juliet, the destruction of her childhood innocence, and the fault of all the mature figures in the play who fail to protect her.
Professor Pearce tackles the charge of "anti-semitism" in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice - clearing the air for the Bard's true use of Shylock as an anti-hero. He illustrates the spiritual symbolism of the relationship between Venice and Belmont and Portia's role as a literary icon of grace, similar to Dante's Beatrice.
Examining the plot of Shakespeare's most famous and most misunderstood play, Hamlet, Pearce highlights the tension that exists between the sanity and sanctity of his heroes - who exhibit characteristics of the saints - and the sin and cynicism of his villains - who portray the Machiavellian machinations of the liar and the tyrant.
Macbeth presents two starkly different visions of kingship, according to Professor Pearce, one which is rooted in the Catholic medieval understanding of kingship, the other in the cynical pragmatism of Machiavelli's Prince. Macbeth is Hamlet's opposite - while Hamlet knows there is concrete truth and morality in life, Macbeth loses his head and soul in succumbing to relativism and his own sin-deceived ego.
Like Hamlet, King Lear is not only one of Shakespeare's greatest plays but also one of his most abused and misrepresented. King Lear is best compared with a modern work like George Orwell's 1984 because it is a clarion cry against the abuses of centralized power. Shakespeare's play does not end with the triumph of tyranny but with the triumph of humility, and the sanctity and sanity which are its fruits.
Hear the evidence and decide for yourself - Shakespeare was a Catholic and his plays attest to his deep and powerful faith.
About the Author
Joseph Pearce is Director of the Center for Faith and Culture and Writer in Residence at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee. He is a renowned biographer whose books include his autobiography, Race with the Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love (Saint Benedict Press, 2013); Candles in the Dark: The Authorized Biography of Fr. Ho Lung, Missionaries of the Poor (Saint Benedict Press, 2012), Through Shakespeare's Eyes: Seeing the Catholic Presence in the Plays (Ignatius Press, 2010); and Tolkien: Man and Myth, a Literary Life (HarperCollins, 1998). He is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Higher Education from Thomas More College for the Liberal Arts and also received the Pollock Award for Christian Biography. He is co-editor of the St. Austin Review and has hosted two series on Shakespeare for EWTN, as well as hosting several EWTN productions on J. R. R. Tolkien.
Item No: C501 (Grouped)
Publisher: Saint Benedict Press, LLC
Publication Date: 2011
Binding: DVD, CD, MP4 Video Download, MP3 Audio Download and Group Study Edition
8 Lectures (Approx. 30 min. each)
1. Revealing the Catholic Shakespeare: The Biographical Evidence, Part I Before delving into evidence for Shakespeare's faith, Professor Joseph Pearce lays to rest any questions about the authorship of the plays and sonnets. Shakespeare, the man himself, wrote his attributed plays, not the Earl of Oxford or Francis Bacon or Christopher Marlowe or even Queen Elizabeth!
2. Revealing the Catholic Shakespeare: The Biographical Evidence, Part II Professor Pearce presents biographical evidence proving the Bard's adherence to the true Faith. He reveals little-known details of Shakespeare's life, including his Catholic education, parents and family, friendship with Jesuit martyr St. Robert Southwell, and purchase of the Blackfriar's Gatehouse.
3. Shakespeare on Love: Romeo & Juliet, Part I Professor Pearce's incisive commentary on Romeo & Juliet illustrates the play as a tragic cautionary tale—full of moral and meaning! Far from taking a popular interpretation of their romantic star-crossed love, Pearce shows how Romeo's egocentric obsession with Juliet destroys her childhood innocence.
4. Shakespeare on Love: Romeo & Juliet, Part II Concluding his analysis of Romeo & Juliet, Professor Pearce discusses the problem of Friar Lawrence—is he a holy man or merely a meddling friar? Pearce also discusses Shakespeare's use of sterile sexual imagery to criticize Romeo and Juliet's shared passion.
5. Shakespeare on Martyrdom & Mercy: The Merchant of Venice Professor Pearce tackles the oft-heard charge of "anti-Semitism" in The Merchant of Venice, highlighting the Bard's true purpose for Shylock as an anti-hero. Pearce illustrates the spiritual symbolism of Venice and Belmont, the cruciform action of the play, and the role of Portia, a literary icon of grace, similar to Dante's Beatrice.
6. Shakespeare on Spies, Lies, Sanity, & Sanctity: Hamlet Examining the plot of Shakespeare's most famous and most misunderstood play, Hamlet, Pearce addresses questions of Hamlet's character, the ghost's authenticity, and Ophelia's innocence. Incorporated into the action of the play are allusions to Elizabeth's spies, Jesuit martyrs, and the existence of Purgatory.
7. Shakespeare on the Anti-Hamlet: Macbeth Macbeth is the inverse of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Macbeth begins as the hero and falls, while Hamlet ascends throughout the play to end a hero. Macbeth is Hamlet's opposite—while Hamlet knows there is concrete truth and morality in life, Macbeth loses his head and soul in succumbing to relativism and his own sin-deceived ego.
8. Shakespeare on Deadly Pride & Healing Humility: King Lear Like Hamlet, King Lear is not only one of Shakespeare's greatest plays but also one of his most abused and misrepresented. The action of the play turns on Lear's conversion which is represented by the two fools—the first is worldly, and the second a Franciscan madman. Among the Catholic allusions in the play are references "God's Spies"—the Jesuits—and Mary, Queen of Scots.