Show Less
Restricted access

Theater and the Sacred in the Middle Ages


Andrzej Dąbrówka

The book presents a theory of relationships between the forms of devotion
and early drama genres. The historical background is the circumstances of the Church becoming independent of the Empire. A theological and philosophical aspect of the transformation of piety at the time was the specification of the ontological status of the sacred (spiritualization) and "shifting it to Heaven" (transcendentalization). In opposition to a theory of Western civilization as a process of increasing individual self-control, the author argues for the need to take into account purely religious conditions (the idea of recapitulation). This allows the author to develop a holistic aesthetics for the religiously inspired creativity in the period spanning the 11th-15th centuries and to propose a new typology of medieval drama.

Show Summary Details
Restricted access

26. The Farce


1. IGNORING SACRALITY. Genres of farce and comic inclusions in other works show impermanence, ineffectiveness, misery, or criminality of the actions of people who ignore the sacred. This enables the spectators to learn the standards of behavior in the spheres of life, which may be free from the holy sacred but must contain an invariable element for them to be common good. At the beginning of this book, we defined the diminishing durability and range of norms as going down to the lower tiers of the scale of sacrality (Becker 1967). Outside of the scale, there is only the lack of norms, freedom to break the rules, a secularization with “nothing holy.” This last area shows a fundamental difference from the previous one, which changes the way how they are used in farces. The two fields jointly cover the whole of the profane sphere of human life. This is reflected in the wide thematic scope of farces, which accompanies other genres that directly demonstrate and propagate a positive attitude toward the sacred. Below, we will also consider how medieval authors drew telling motifs and presented them directly or inaccurately, as a violation of a certain principle.

Ignoring the holy sacred was not simply one of many literary options; after all, even today one needs special permission to ridicule religion. Due to the risk of blasphemy, this thread developed with characters unrepresentative of the community – children, youth, underdeveloped and anti-social adults, jesters, vagrants – perceived and thusly defined...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.