• The devil can cite scripture for his purpose: Shakespeare’s use of the parable of the Prodigal Son in ​Henry IV, The Merchant of Venice, King Lear​, and ​The Tempest

      Almeyda, Dariana (2020-05)
      Scholars have long identified the Bible as one of William Shakespeare’s main sources of inspiration. An extension to “The Devil Can Cite Scripture for His Purpose: Shakespeare’s Use of Biblical Allusions in ​The Merchant of Venice,”​ this paper explores Shakespeare’s implementation and reimagining of the parable of the Prodigal Son in ​Henry IV, The Merchant of Venice, King Lear,​ and ​The Tempest.​ His manipulation of the parable creates a universal sense of morality for the characters in each play and serves as a common ground for audiences of his time to understand and better relate to his works. To modern readers, his reworkings of the parable also serve as a social commentary on sixteenth-century English society steeped in religious conflicts and motifs. He creates several characters that act like prodigals, a term socially recognized by its relation to the parable found in Luke 15, but also universally understood as both an adjective and noun to mean “spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant. / A person who spends money in a recklessly extravagant way” (“Prodigal”). ​Shakespeare’s various reworkings of this parable prompt a conversation about the price of forgiveness, love, and whether or not grace and mercy are truly free.