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Shakespearean Romances

The sequence of Shakespeare’s plays falls into three categories that perfectly parallel the three mysteries of the rosary. From joy to sorrow to glory. His early plays are full of the joy of youth and discovery (Comedy of Errors, Taming of the Shrew.) Then his great tragedies of evil and doubt (Hamlet, King Lear, Othello.) Finally, his romance plays (Pericles, Cymbeline, The Tempest, The Winter’s Tale) tell of virtue, perseverance, reunion, resurrection. The romantic plays, like the Glorious Mysteries, are about rising or falling: Christ rises from the dead, rises into Heaven, the Holy Ghost descends, Our Lady rises. The mystery concludes with her coronation as Queen of all creation, the combination of the natural and the supernatural. The romance plays are filled with good women who suffer. They remain unsullied, unmoving, uncomplaining. They persevere until the end. Romantic plays have three main characteristics: First, character gives way to action, that is, an evil person will do evil. Next, numerous plots throughout the play, much like real life. Finally, the handling of time in that these actions take place over many years and are condensed into the constraints of the production of the play. Our crosses in life will end in glory.

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