chapter  5
18 Pages

Shakespeare Now and Then: Communities, Religion, Reception

ByThomas Rist

This chapter examines the identity and role of the prophet as articulated in the writings of self-identified prophets during the English revolution, when prophecy in England flourished and was viewed by many as a disturbing presence in society. It focuses on five people who suggest something of the diversity of England's prophets, but who all shared a powerful sense of identification with the prophets of ancient Israel. The account suggests that Anna's mother thought of herself as Elijah, the prophet who stood up against the corrupt Israelite King Ahab and his wife Jezebel. Given that Milton and others thought of Charles I as Ahab, married to the idolatrous Catholic Henrietta Maria, it seems we are intended to see Anna's mother as a prophet opposing King Charles. The habit of drawing analogies between England's history and biblical Israel's was an important part of England's post-Reformation.