Article Title

Anti-Semitism and the English Mystery Plays


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

The general tone of the medieval English mystery plays is affirmative. The early religious drama conveys a triumphant vision of temporal and cosmic symmetry that was designed to comfort and sustain the believing Christian. Yet there also exists within the plays a mood of unrelenting hostility, and this is directed in large part toward the disbeliever, the Jew. The mystery plays comprise, in fact, one of the most vehemently anti-Jewish genres in the history of English literature. I propose in this article to explore the character of this anti-Jewishness and to speculate about its function. I shall argue that the perspectives and dynamics of the drama parallel those of classic and clinical anti-Semitism: that the drama not only distorts and stereotypes the Jew, but more particularly that it assigns to the Jew the unwanted aspects of the Christian community and consequently execrates him.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.