It is notoriously difficult to tease out Shakespeare's views from his work, so a better question might be, How do Shakespeare's works depict religion? I need to give an important bit of historical context here: the lack of express reference to Christianity in many of Shakespeare's plays is not necessarily evidence of lack of interest. The 1606 Act "to Restrain Abuses of Players" included a clause against using the name of God, Jesus, or the Holy Ghost "jestingly or prophanely" (Gurr, The Shakespearean Stage, 76).

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Hmmm...well, I'm certainly no expert, but I suspect that Shakespeare did not hold the church in high esteem. Oh sure, he was probably a Christian in a general sense (a Catholic I believe), but I don't think he was a Bible thumper.

You are correct, it is hard to read his own thoughts in his plays. Was he antisemetic and racist, or did he just portray people that way for plot developement? I suspect the latter to a large degree.
Thanks for those links Ashton. I can't check them out at the moment, but I'll flag this comment and get back to it when I can.
I thought he supposedly wasn't a Katholik because of the whole 'ghosts' thing, like in Julius Caesar etc.
It seems to me that in the book about him, Will in the World, of which I listened to about a third of on CD, the author says he was more than likely a Catholic, though I don't remember now the reasons given.
There has been some speculation that Shakespeare was Catholic because his father had been Catholic. In addition, ghosts suggest the existence of Purgatory or "Limbo," which only Catholics believed in.
Thanks for the link--Huxley's "take" on Shakespeare's religion is measured and convincing.
Huxley is obviously an expert on Shakespeare.

It's Huxley who introduced me to Shakespeare's sonnets. Point Counter Point partially quotes sonnet CXXX ("My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun..."), which is still the only sonnet I can recite entirely from memory.
I have about 15 of them memorized, just for my own enjoyment.
I can't respond to this question, but here's what Shaw had to say about the matter:

I read Dickens and Shakespear without shame or stint; but their pregnant observations and demonstrations of life are not co-ordinated into any philosophy or religion: on the contrary, Dickens's sentimental assumptions are violently contradicted by his observations; and Shakespear's pessimism is only his wounded humanity. Both have the specific genius of the fictionist and the common sympathies of human feeling and thought in pre-eminent degree. They are often saner and shrewder than the philosophers just as Sancho-Panza was often saner and shrewder than Don Quixote. They clear away vast masses of oppressive gravity by their sense of the ridiculous, which is at bottom a combination of sound moral judgment with lighthearted good humor. But they are concerned with the diversities of the world instead of with its unities: they are so irreligious that they exploit popular religion for professional purposes without delicacy or scruple (for example, Sydney Carton and the ghost in Hamlet!): they are anarchical, and cannot balance their exposures of Angelo and Dogberry, Sir Leicester Dedlock and Mr Tite Barnacle, with any portrait of a prophet or a worthy leader: they have no constructive ideas: they regard those who have them as dangerous fanatics: in all their fictions there is no leading thought or inspiration for which any man could conceivably risk the spoiling of his hat in a shower, much less his life.

SOURCE: Shaw, George Bernard. Man and Superman (1903), ed. Dan H. Laurence (London: Penguin Books, 1946), excerpt from the Epistle Dedicatory, To Arthur Bingham Walkley, pp. 28-29.
Another compelling reading--thank you for the post.




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