On site and insight : a reading of the Castle of Perseverance and its staging diagram in situ
Wilkinson, Maryse (Micky)
The manuscript of the medieval morality play The Castle of Perseverance contains an illustration commonly understood as the earliest example of a medieval stage plan. Yet The Castle is an allegory, an extended metaphor, the meaning of which comes from the exegetical tradition. Medieval drama is didactic, and education, like exegesis and metaphor, operates on many levels. The Castle plays on the meaning of “play:” to read it solely as a play is to read merely the first level of meaning. This thesis considers The Castle not in its usual dramatic context but in that of devotional literature: specifically, exegesis, mysticism, and the monastic practice of lectio divina, “divine reading.” It focuses on the text and diagram as the verbal and visual illustration of classical and biblical metaphors: among these, the pilgrimage of life, the castle of the mind, the treasure chest of the heart, and the river of the soul. Gregory the Great’s Moralia in Job is discussed as the likeliest source of the metaphors found in The Castle; the Moralia serves as an exemplar of allegory as a systematic metaphor and a metaphoric system. The Castle allegorizes and actualizes an abstraction, the process of temptation; depicting the mind as a stage on which players become “prayers.” Morality plays concern the ethics of salvation: one is the sum of one’s choices. Thus, the manuscript’s goal is to foster contemplation or “Christian Socratism,” the examination of conscience, as a prerequisite to salvation and the mystical union with God.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
SupervisorParkinson, David J.
Copyright DateOctober 2007
battle of the virtues and vices