shakespeare’s as you like it although published in 1633, well after

Although published in 1633, well after Shakespeare wrote his comedy, polemicist William Prynne’s Histrio-Mastix draws on decades of Puritan argument against London stage plays. Use a brief passage from Prynne (probably from the section on “Stage-Plays”) to define a key objection to fiction, whether poetry or playing (acting). Then analyze how that issue is explored in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, concentrating on two opposed characters and their uses of poetry or play-acting. Does one character occupy an anti-fictional position? How does another character rebut or provide counter-evidence to that view? Does the relationship of these characters, as developed in a couple of representative conversations, ultimately defend the use of fiction, and if so, for what purpose(s)? When citing drama, identify lines by act.scene.line number, e.g. II.iii.51

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Thesis should be anchored in unique features of the primary text, not in broad generalizations about the culture or a full analysis of the auxiliary text. You will only use the auxiliary text briefly. You may focus on one episode, passage, or feature after noting its place in the work as whole.

Additionally, you are required to use the Oxford English Dictionary to define at least one word from the primary text you find to be metaphoric, ambiguous, or punning. The link to the OED is found at under “quick links”.

The opening paragraph of your paper should use the auxiliary passage to open up the topic, leading to a clearly stated thesis about the primary text (As you like it). In this paragraph, restate the topic in your own words, or, if you wish, narrow it. The body of the paper should support and deepen the thesis with an evidence-based interpretation of the primary text. Use topic sentences to show how each paragraph advances the thesis, working toward a unified meditation on the topic question. In your conclusion, draw out your reading’s broader implications for the possible uses of the primary text in its culture.

Support your claims with frequent short quotations integrated into your sentences; avoid quoting large blocks of text. Your analysis should incorporate key words relevant to this course (English Literature from middle ages to 17th century) and well-defined literary terminology, always tied to your thesis claim. Your analysis may consider any formal or rhetorical feature.

2 sources are those mentioned. Histrio Mastix section here:

Stage-Plays are thus odious, unseemly, pernicious, and unlawful unto Christians in the precedent respects [they were invented by idolatrous pagans and infidels for idolatrous worship] so likewise are they in regard of their ordinary style, and subject matter; which no Christian can or dares to patronize: if we survey the style, or subject matter of all our popular interludes; we shall discover them, to be either scurrilous, amorous and obscene; or barbarous, bloody, and tyrannical; or heathenish and profane; or fabulous and fictitious, or impious and blasphemous; or satirical and invective; or at the best frothy, vain and frivolous * * * [so] The plays themselves must needs be evil, unseemly, and unlawful unto Christians.

* * *
Our play haunters [are] * * * adulterers, adulteresses, whoremasters, whores, bawds, panders, ruffians, roarers, drunkards, prodigals, cheaters, idle, infamous, base, profane, and godless persons.

* * *
What wantonness, what effeminacy parallel to that which our men-women actors, in all their feminine, (yea, sometimes in their masculine parts) express upon the theater? Was [any former unnatural behavior] * * * comparable unto that which our artificial stage-players (trained up to all lasciviousness from their cradles) continually practice on the stage without blush of face, or sorrow of heart, not only in the open view of men, but even of that all-eyed God, who will one day arraign them for this their gross effeminacy? And dare we men, we Christians yet applaud it? * * * Is this a light, a despicable effeminacy for men, for Christians, thus to adulterate, emasculate, metamorphose, and debase their noble sex? thus purposely, if I may so speak, and to make themselves, as it were, neither men nor women, but monsters.

* * *
If our English polled females (who may do well to make them beards of the hairs they have shorn from their locks and foretops) * * * they may then seem bearded men in earnest, and fall to wearing breeches too (as they have lately taken up men’s tonsure, locks, and doublets, if not more).

* * *
[Crossed-dressed actors] perverts one principal use of garments, to difference men from women: by confounding, interchanging, transforming these two sexes for the present, as long as the play or part doth last [exciting lust, sodomy, and masturbation]. * * * The transcendent badness of the one [male actors] doth neither expiate nor extenuate the sinfulness of the other [female actors, if there were any].

* * *
Let a man be * * * a diligent, upright Magistrate punishing drunkenness, drunkards, swearers, suppressing ale-houses, may-games, revels, dancing, and other unlawful pastimes on the Lord’s day, according to his oath and duty. Let any of any profession be but a little holier or stricter than the major part of men and this his holiness, his forwardness in religion, is sufficient warrant for all profane ones * * * to brand and hate him for a Puritan.

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