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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: October 2020

Chapter 3 - The Sonnets and the Messiah


Chapter Three, “The Sonnets and the Messiah” shows how Victorian enthusiasts did with Shakespeare’s lyric expressions exactly as they had done with his plays. Charles Ellis’s astonishing collection, Shakespeare and the Bible: Fifty Sonnets, with their Scriptural Harmonies (1896) deliberately juxtaposes Shakespearean sonnets with passages from scripture so as to demonstrate their mutual accord. This chapter untangles the peculiar theological expectations implicit in Victorian reading to show how their conception of Shakespeare’s divinity served to ensure and to perpetuate unlikely interpretations of the sonnets.