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“If no Divells, no God”: Devils, D(a)emons and Humankind on the Mediaeval and Early Modern English Stage.

BOCK, EMMANUEL (2010) “If no Divells, no God”: Devils, D(a)emons and Humankind on the Mediaeval and Early Modern English Stage. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis looks at the relationship that humanity has with the devil, the demonic, and the daemonic as it is represented in plays from the mediaeval to the Early Modern period in England.
While critics have contradictorily seen the devil as a secular figure on the one hand, and as a vestige of sacred drama on the other, I consider the character from an anthropocentric point of view: the devil helps reveal mankind’s emerging independence from religion and the problems that accompany this development.
Chapter I sets the context for the investigation, tracing the broad outlines of the genesis of the figure that turned into the devil, before the main body of the thesis looks at the interaction between the devil and mankind.
Part I considers the devil as master of his own deeds. Chapters II and III look at his development in the mediaeval Mysteries and Moralities, showing how an ever greater independence of the figure simultaneously leads to him being increasingly used as a character designed to educate mankind. Chapters IV and V reveal a similar pattern: the more confident the devil is of himself and the more he believes himself to be in control, the wilier man proves in freeing himself from his influence. Chapter VI sees the exodus of the devil as mankind takes control of its destiny.
Part II looks at plays in which men attempt to control their fate by controlling the fiend and subjecting him to their power. Chronologically, it parallels the evolution traced in Chapters IV to VI. Chapters VII and VIII show that such efforts prove fruitless and counterproductive as long as the power men derive from their association with the devil is not channelled into a positive vision for the future. Only a model of a society that combines access to power and human responsibility, that substitutes a more selfless morality for an egocentric one, can keep the fiend at bay, as seen in Chapter IX.
Finally, Chapter X tests these findings against The Birth of Merlin, which defies categorisation and dating.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:devil; demon; demonic; daemonic; mystery plays; morality plays; Elizabethan drama; Jacobean drama; Chester; N-Town; Towneley; York; The Castle of Perseverance; Wisdom; Mankind; Everyman; I.T.: Grim the Collier of Croydon; Thomas Dekker: If This Be Not a Good Play, the Devil Is in It; Ben Jonson: The Devil Is an Ass; Christopher Marlowe: Doctor Faustus; Barnabe Barnes: The Devil's Charter; William Shakespeare: The Tempest; William Rowley: The Birth of Merlin
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2010
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:23 May 2011 09:44

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