Devils and Vices in English Non-Cycle Plays: Sacrament and Social Body


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

The English mystery plays have recently come to be understood anew through the social dimension of the Eucharist. Historians have coined the term 'social body' to refer to the pre-Reformation sense of communal coherence bestowed by the most important of the sacraments, especially in the wake of preaching and writing about the feast of Corpus Christi, established in 1311, and that sense of coherence has been the basis for fruitful discussion of the scriptural drama.1 Non-cycle plays, however, are another matter. Neither the morality nor miracle plays, as they are now called, were associated with the Eucharist or with Corpus Christi. Miracle plays were performed on saints' days; morality plays, at any time of the year; and neither seems to have involved the community in the same way the mystery plays did, since the life of a particular saint or of a representative abstraction did not offer, as dramatic subjects, the same scope for social cooperation and competition that was offered by the history of the world, and neither seems to have involved anything like the Corpus Christi procession.2

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.