"'God Delay Our Rebellion!': Sexuality and Theology in All’s Well and Measure for Measure"

2007. Southern African Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 17: 77-96.

This article lays out a dual framework: firstly, the difficulties of biblical exegesis or hermeneutics, and secondly, the problematic place of sex in Christian doctrine – a problem as acute in the twenty-first century as it was in early modern Europe.This framework is applied to Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure, plays that share dramatic devices (most notably the morally and symbolically ambiguous bed-trick) and are complementary in their portrayal of sexual relationships, religiosity and the implementation of the law. The paper attempts to resolve conflicting critical responses to the theology that seems to inform these plays by foregrounding the relationship between God-as-Creator and language; in doing so, it presents the case made by Shakespeare’s plays against dogmatism, both in the context of Renaissance England and in contemporary readings or performances.