Page of

Likeness and Collectivity in the Play of Wisdom

Likeness and Collectivity in the Play of Wisdom

Chapter:
(p.139) Chapter Five Likeness and Collectivity in the Play of Wisdom
Source:
Staging Contemplation
Author(s):
Eleanor Johnson
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226572208.003.0006

This chapter reads the little-loved play Wisdom as a poetically and theologically sophisticated staging of participatory contemplation on the likeness between man and God. To export a feeling of contemplation to its audience, the play begins by establishing a baseline of likeness between the Soul and God, then violating that likeness to create instead a likeness between the Soul and Lucifer, and ultimately between the audience and the destroyed Soul. The shifting likenesses in the play make the audience aware not only of their fundamental likeness to the divine, but also of the fragility of that likeness, its susceptibility to damage and corruption. As in Revelations and Piers, in Wisdom, Trinitarian theology underpins the play’s contemplations on the likeness between man and God, but Wisdom uses a combination of metrical and stanzaic variation, French/English code-switching, comedy, and music to render a feeling of participation in the Trinity for its audiences, and to render the fall into sin that occurs when the Soul allows itself to be corrupted.

Keywords:   Wisdom, participation, trinitarian theology, likeness, stanzas, Middle English drama, morality plays, Lucifer

Sign In

Copyright © 2021. All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy and Legal Notice