Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 28 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The East Anglian dramatized life of Mary Magdalen, preserved alongside a fragment of Wisdom who is Christ in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Digby 133, engages directly and effectively with many facets of contemporary devotional taste. This article suggests that the incomplete Digby Wisdom and Mary Magdalen respond well to being read against each other. As Victor Scherb has commented, ‘Wisdom reads and plays like an allegorical dress rehearsal for the more elaborate biblical and legendary treatment of related themes in the Digby Mary Magdalen’. The trajectory of Mary Magdalen's life follows an arc from aristocratic grandeur and temptation, through service to the living Christ alongside the other apostles, missionary teaching (if not preaching), and finally eremitic seclusion. It offers a narrative roller-coaster of unusual virtuosity and vigour, full of generic hybridity, rhetorical set pieces, thoughtful theology, and affective (and affecting) spiritual tableaux. Theresa Coletti has called it ‘perhaps the most theologically ambitious and theatrically eclectic play in the entire corpus of Middle English drama’. Whereas Wisdom feels like ‘a journey though a library’, a library perhaps made up of newly printed books, and is a sustained exercise in the visualization of metaphor, the Digby Mary Magdalen offers a recognizable social and spiritual portrait of the journey of a soul.

Keywords: medieval plays, Tudor drama, Wisdom who is Christ, Mary Magdalen, religious drama

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.