York Mystery Plays

Humanity of Christ in "The York Play of the Crucifixion" College

In the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, there was an emergence of creativity and imagination. These ideals were portrayed throughout the fields of human inquiry -- artwork and entertainment being especially affected. A powerful example of such a newly creative dramatic style is the emergence of "mystery plays," or plays that depicted the change in portrayal of Christ’s humanity. In earlier times, the Catholic church was very strict as to the interpretation of the Bible, with the pope’s word or interpretation being the only one allowable. Anyone who strayed from this interpretation could be heavily punished. With the emergence of the Renaissance, creativity spread not only into the secular arts but also the spiritual arts. The Catholic church began commissioning a series of mystery plays to enlighten the people regarding the gospel, and to a different kind of Christ than they had previously known -- a Christ who was no longer harsh, silent, cold, and nothing like themselves. Mystery plays, such as the “York Play of the Crucifixion,” helped to portray the humanity of Christ through the use of character, comedy, and setting. In “The York Play of the Crucifixion,” the humanity of Christ is, somewhat unexpectedly, also...

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