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Renaissance PsychologiesSpenser and Shakespeare$
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Robert Lanier Reid

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781526109170

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526109170.001.0001

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End-songs: final vistas of Spenser and Shakespeare

End-songs: final vistas of Spenser and Shakespeare

(p.282) 7 End-songs: final vistas of Spenser and Shakespeare
Renaissance Psychologies

Robert Lanier Reid

Manchester University Press

Does Spenser’s Mutabilitie Songcomplete his epic,or point to a more transcendent scope in its final half?It derogates the pagan gods; itreforms the titan Mutability (unlike the discarded demon-titans in books 1-6); and its grand pastoral pageantfalls short of the symbolic city toward which the poem moves. Spenser’s holistic design is more clearly implied in his ordering of deadly sins (FQ 1.4). Compared with Dante’s pattern of sins, of purgations, and of ascensions in the Commedia, it offers a vital clue to The Faerie Queene’s format–based on the Christian-Platonismthat informs all its figures and sequences. Much evidence suggests Elizabeth I would admire a mystic structuring of this epic that so honors her. As for Shakespeare’s attentiveness to last things, we explore the theme of ‘summoning’ in Hamlet and King Lear, both concerned–as in The Summoning of Everyman–with ‘readiness’ and ’ripeness’ in the face of death and judgment. In The Tempest’s deft collocation of all social levels and artistic genres, and its odd convergence with Spenserian allegory, we debate the insistence on Shakespeare’s secularism by examining the range of meaning in Prospero’s ‘Art’.

Keywords:   mutability, pagan gods, pastoral/city, epic conclusion, six-winged seraph, deadly sins, mystic form, summoning, ripeness/readiness, final judgment, Prospero’s Art, sacerdotal vestiges

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