Date of Degree

2-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Comparative Literature

Advisor(s)

Paul Oppenheimer

Subject Categories

Comparative Literature | English Language and Literature | Religion

Keywords

Dante, Marlowe, Milton, Plato, Shakespeare, Spenser

Abstract

"The Legend of the Red Crosse Knight," "Doctor Faustus," "Hamlet," and "Samson Agonistes" are secular poetic explorations with a common idea: the possibility of Christian salvation. These examples of the redemptive quest seem to reveal the uneasiness of salvation which is representative, if only broadly, of the atmosphere in which their authors were writing. More specifically, the intention of this study is to reveal the possibility and nature of Christian uncertainty as it is firmly rooted in the early modern period. As Christian doctrine proves protean from its beginnings in the first century to Protestant tracts in the sixteenth, these authors are not immune to the conflicting ideologies and shifting beliefs of their time. These four works thus offer insight into the fluctuating and malleable ideologies of Christianity, and ultimately reflect the ongoing development of theological principles.

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