Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Broken HarmonyShakespeare and the Politics of Music$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Joseph M. Ortiz

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449314

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449314.001.0001

Show Summary Details

Shakespeare’s Idolatry

Shakespeare’s Idolatry

Psalms and Hornpipes in The Winter’s Tale

(p.180) Chapter 5 Shakespeare’s Idolatry
Broken Harmony

Joseph M. Ortiz

Cornell University Press

This chapter shows how The Winter's Tale rehearses the early modern theology of iconoclasm, effectively stoking anxieties in Jacobean England that music had become an inappropriate object of mystical devotion. Even more than The Tempest, which is generally considered the most musical of Shakespeare's romances, The Winter's Tale intervenes in contemporary debates over the moral and theological status of music, images, and the theater. Criticism of the play since the late twentieth century has noted its engagement with Protestant ideology, particularly in the famous transformation scene, in which a painted statue is made the object of quasi-religious devotion. However, in arguing for or against the idolatrous nature of Shakespeare's theater, readers of The Winter's Tale construe the play's theological engagements almost exclusively in terms of the image. Consequently, the place of music in the debate over iconoclasm has been left out of the discussion. This is not a negligible omission, since the ambiguous representation of music in the play does not merely reflect or reproduce the problem of the idolatrous image. Rather, Shakespeare's use of music in The Winter's Tale renders indeterminate the boundary between idolatry and all sensory experience, regardless of its moral content.

Keywords:   Shakespeare, plays, music, iconoclasm, Jacobean England, theology

Cornell Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.