Klavan On The Culture

Happy Shakespeare's Birthday!

William Shakespeare was baptized on April 26, 1564 and was buried April 25th, 1616. Thus the tradition has grown up that he was born and died on April 23rd. So as you gather around the Willmas tree this weekend, singing Wilmas carols and exchanging Wilmas presents, take a moment to peruse this truly wonderful article by Spencer Klavan (no relation… or wait, my son… one or the other…). Spencer noticed a similarity between a speech in Hamlet and one of the Psalms and — brilliantly in my wholly objective opinion — deduced a hint of Shakespeare’s much under-appreciated theology:

William Shakespeare, whose birthday we celebrate on April 23, has been known to turn the sacred into the profane. Literary critic Stephen Greenblatt argues that “the refashioning of traditional religious materials into secular performance” is characteristic of Shakespearean drama. But that doesn’t make Shakespeare an irreligious playwright — in fact, sometimes what the Bard doesn’t say about God speaks volumes about faith.

Nowhere is this more true than in Hamlet’s “quintessence of dust” speech. This famous monologue is almost a rewrite of Psalm 8, but without God — comparing the two texts shows what happens to our outlook when we disregard the divine. Impossible to prove, but I suspect Shakespeare meant it that way. I suspect he knew just how much we lose when we erase God from the world.

Read the whole thing here.