Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Prodigal Son in English and American LiteratureFive Hundred Years of Literary Homecomings$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Alison M. Jack

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198817291

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198817291.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 25 May 2022

The Prodigal Son and Shakespeare

The Prodigal Son and Shakespeare

(p.47) 3 The Prodigal Son and Shakespeare
The Prodigal Son in English and American Literature

Alison M. Jack

Oxford University Press

In this chapter the ubiquity of references to the Prodigal Son in Shakespeare’s work is explored, leading to a discussion of Shakespeare’s use of the Bible in general and of the Geneva Bible in particular. Two plays are considered in detail: Henry IV Part 1 and King Lear. It is suggested that Shakespeare offers a creative exegesis, or midrash, of the parable in both plays. In the first, the parable is reworked in a way which leads the reader to question the motives of both Hal and the Prodigal in the original text. In the second, the complex overlay of the parable on the plot and characterization offers at least the possibility of grace and hope at the end of the play.

Keywords:   Shakespeare, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, King Lear, Cordelia, Prince Hal, midrashic exegesis, Geneva Bible

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .