PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis thesis examines William Shakespeare's Hamlet through the historical conflict between Protestantism and Catholicism. Shakespeare writes in a religious atmosphere heavily informed by the sixteenth-century religious conflict between the Protestant Church of England and Catholic ideology. While the Church of England controlled English religious thought through strict censorship of Catholic theology, the Church was unable to erase the Catholic history of the country. In Hamlet, these two opposing ideologies come face to face. Prince Hamlet, linked to the Protestant Reformer Dr. Martin Luther through an education at Wittenberg, demonstrates great courage through his trust in God's sovereignty. Hamlet finds his religious conscience crippled by the appearance of the Ghost of his father from Purgatory, a uniquely Catholic view of the afterlife. The confusion caused by Catholic theology continues when Claudius, responsible for the death of Hamlet’s father, is unable to repent of his sins due to his belief in Catholic works-based salvation. Until Hamlet regains his Protestant faith in grace-based salvation and God's predestined control of fate, he cannot take his revenge. Once Hamlet regains his Protestant faith, his trust in predestined fate leads to death. In Hamlet, acceptance of predestination lead to the destruction of the individual.
Degree ProgramHonors College