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The Unrepentant RenaissanceFrom Petrarch to Shakespeare to Milton$
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Richard Strier

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226777511

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226777535.001.0001

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Sanctifying the Bourgeoisie: The Cultural Work of The Comedy of Errors

Sanctifying the Bourgeoisie: The Cultural Work of The Comedy of Errors

Chapter:
(p.153) Chapter 4 Sanctifying the Bourgeoisie: The Cultural Work of The Comedy of Errors
Source:
The Unrepentant Renaissance
Author(s):

Richard Strier

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226777535.003.0005

In this chapter, Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors is examined as a wholehearted evocation and celebration of the bourgeois life. In a world of honest, generous, and admirable merchants, money is perceived as neither filthy nor corrupting. The author argues that this context, where there is no one who is greedy or miserly, and where cheating does not take place, is a consciously humanist and Protestant conception of what Max Weber would call “inner-worldly” holiness. Thus, Errors can be viewed as a text that showcases the importance of humanism to mid- and late-Tudor conceptions of commercial and civic life—the conflicts and exchanges between characters is a perfect model for humanist dialogue and graciousness. The chapter, in totality, explores the theological and philosophical views that surround the bourgeois, or the concerns regarding poverty and riches.

Keywords:   bourgeois life, The Comedy of Errors, holiness, Max Weber, humanism, humanist dialogue, civic life

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