Psalm Echoes in Shakespeare's "1 Henry VI," "Richard II," and "Edward III"
Waugaman, Richard M.
This note will supplement past work which documents that Sternhold and Hopkins’ Whole Book of Psalms (WBP) was a major literary source for Shakespeare’s plays, Sonnets, and The Rape of Lucrece. I will examine three history plays, two of which are of disputed authorship. Since frequent echoes of WBP have not yet been found in other early modern authors, their presence in a play supports Shakespeare’s authorship. In his history plays, allusions to the WBP serve to reinforce Shakespeare’s providential interpretation of English history. Historical events are subtly portrayed as fulfilling biblical models and precedents. Insofar as the embattled English are likened to the Israelites, this parallel claims divine favour for the English. For believers, the Psalms are often considered to be the most personal book of the Bible. Shakespeare’s echoes of them therefore carry special weight in disclosing ‘all the secrets’ of his characters’ hearts. Evidence that the WBP was a major literary source for Shakespeare is cumulative, building on past discoveries.
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Unconcious Communication in Shakespeare: "Et Tu, Brute?" Echoes "Eloi, Eloi Lama Sabachthani?" Waugaman, Richard M. (Guilford Press, 2007)