Jose Carillo's Forum


This section features links to interesting, instructive, or thought-provoking readings about the English language and related disciplines. The selections could be anywhere from light and humorous to serious and scholarly, and they range widely from the reading, writing, listening, and speaking disciplines to the teaching and learning of English.

Was Shakespeare, whether Protestant or Catholic, a true believer?

What do we make of William Shakespeare based on the language and imagery of his plays and the tenor of his personal papers? Was he a devout Protestant or a sympathizer of the Catholic underground when Henry VIII’s brutal reforms fractured late-medieval Christendom in England? Or was Shakespeare a man of faith at all?

The Will to Believe

In a recently released book, A Will to Believe: Shakespeare and Religion (OUP Oxford, 176 pages), David Scott Kastan makes an exploratory overview of the Bard of Avon’s religious beliefs by closely examining the texts of his plays and poems for clues.

Kastan points out that so frequently was the question of Shakespeare’s possible Catholicism raised in the popular press that it even managed to quell speculation that he was actually Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, in literary disguise. The speculation drew strength from perceived striking parallels of language, idiom, and thought between Shakespeare’s works and de Vere’s own poetry and letters.

No definite conclusion is made by Kastan on these parallels, but he suggests that whatever Shakespeare’s religious leanings were, it is evident that the English playwright valued community at least as much as personal belief.

Says Andrew Hadfield in a review of Kastan’s book in the March 18, 2014 issue of The Irish Times: “(Shakespeare) lived in a time when religion was a communal act, something shared by a group of believers with a common purpose and so part of the stuff of everyday life, not a private belief cut off from the world. What is notable about his plays is their easy acceptance of religious difference.”

Read Andrew Hadfield’s “What kind of God did Shakespeare believe in?”, a review of David Scott Kastan’s A Will to Believe, in The Irish Times now!

In “Word lovers rejoice as OK celebrates 175 years,” a news dispatch from Agence France-Presse on March 22, 2014, speakers and learners of English were enjoined to take a moment to reflect on “OK” as the most popular word in the English language. “OK” or “okay” first appeared in print on page two of The Boston Morning Post, then one of the most popular newspapers in the United States. Says Allan Metcalf, an English professor in Illinois who is the world’s leading authority on the history and meaning of OK: “I think OK should be celebrated with parades and speeches. But for now, whatever you do (to mark the anniversary), it’s OK.”

Read the “Word lovers rejoice as OK celebrates 175 years” news dispatch of AFP now!

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