Shakespeare’s Illustration of the Eucharist

In Act 3, Scene 3 of The Tempest, several ‘strange shapes’ bring in a banquet, on which Alonso proposes to feed. But Ariel, by means of a ‘quaint device,’ causes it to vanish and confronts them with their own sin: ‘But remember/(For that’s my business to you) that you three/From Milan did supplant good Prospero’ (3.3.68–70). The prospective feast becomes an act of remembrance, restoring a memory of themselves that disbars participation until that memory has restored them to repentance.

Peter J. Leithart spells out some of the details, drawing on David Aers and Sarah Beckwith essay on Holy Communion in Cultural Reformations.

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