Shakespeare's Plea for Tolerance: Catholicism and Sexuality in his Early Works

Dr. Thomas Paul Pfeiffer
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Little is known about Shakespeare's private life. Yet, much may be gleaned from a closer look at the events of his life and their influence on his writing. Building on recent scholarship about the stubborn Catholicism of Shakespeare's family and neighbors, certain conclusions may be drawn about the emotional and psychological state of Shakespeare throughout his life and of his manner of reacting to the trials of his life. Within the cycle of one year, 1996-7, key events took place which were to shape, not only the immediate work but surely the reat of his canon. What emerges throughout is a plea for Tolerance on any level — political, theological and sexual. For within this one year, Shakespeare experienced the trauma of the loss of his only son; the commission of the early sonnets and his infatuation with 'the Young Man;' the affair with the 'Dark Lady' of the later sonnets; the heartbreak of betrayal and public humiliation at the hands of both and, finally, the oddly sympathetic 'The Merchant of Venice.' Through all of these works we may see the private man in torment and witness the poet's mastery of his fate through exquisite and deeply moving poetry.

Keywords: Shakespeare's Plea for Tolerance, Catholicism and Sexuality in his Early Works
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies, Media, Film Studies, Theatre, Communication
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Shakespeare's Plea for Tolerance

Dr. Thomas Paul Pfeiffer

Director of Theatre; Associate Professor of Theatre, Department of Communications and Theatre Arts, Salisbury University

A classically trained actor with a love for history, scholarship and Shakespeare, Dr Pfeiffer has dedicated his life to the pursuit and sharing of knowledge of the Theatre. A member of the faculty of Salisbury University since 1980, Dr Pfeiffer has been the Director of Theatre here since 1989. He enjoys directing a wide range of productions but especially the classics. His courses also focus on classical training for actors (especially Shakespeare) and on Theatre History. His one man play, 'Apology for the Life of an Actor' based on the memoirs of Colley Cibber, was produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2000 in Stratford, featuring David Ryall. The play was invited to the Edinburgh Fringe Theatre Festival that year. Dr Pfeiffer acted the role. In addition to his scholarly credits, Dr Pfeiffer has also trained further as an actor in order to inform his teaching as well as to refine his own skills. He has studied at the Herbert Bergh of Studio in Manhattan, the Folget Shakespeare Theatre in Washington and the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London.

Ref: H05P0872