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Non-scriptural Elements in the towneley cycle

Visschers, Boudewijn Servaes Jan (1983) Non-scriptural Elements in the towneley cycle. Masters thesis, Durham University.



This study discusses non-biblical material in seven of Towneley's plays. Five of these plays, Mactacio Abel (II), Processus Noe cum Filiis (III), the two shepherds' plays (XII, XIII) and the Processus Talentorum (XXIV), are (influenced) by the Wakefield Master, whereas the Processus Prophetarum (VII), and the Suspencio lude (XXXII) are not. It is argued that although each of these plays conforms to a theme current throughout the cycle - to convert and ask for mercy - the -plays attributed to the Wakefield Master also pursue a different thematic concern of their own. The non-scriptural elements can be described in terms of allusions to, and traces of, folklore customs, folktales and legendary material, social criticism and comment, inclusion of fictional characters introduced by the playwright(s) and a vivid portrayal of characters with human dimensions,, By focussing on the significance of these features, their reason for introduction, their sources, and on whether a partially illiterate audience could have been familiar with them, it is suggested that although most of the material is traditional, the Wakefield Master used it in a unique way. Introducing new elements, or modifying material already present in the cycle, he reveals a predilection for depicting interpersonal conflict. This frictional relationship between man - man, based on a difference in commitments and found only where the Wakefield stanza is present, is reflected in man's relation to God. The study suggests further that the author of the Processus Prophetarum may have used a breviary as his source, and that the Judas legend on which the Suspencio lude is based resembles a particular offshoot of the OEdipus legend. Of the twenty-one plates illustrating points of view, one involving a close folklore analogy to Mak's tossing in the Secunda Pastorum has hitherto received no attention, whereas some others dealing, with the Noah legend have not been discussed before in English.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1983
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:15 May 2013 15:44

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