Biblical Allusions and Their Functions in the Works of William Shakespeare

Author’s name:
Anna D. Bakina – I. S. Turgenev Orel State University, Orel, Russia


The study examines the functioning of biblical allusions or biblicisms as precedent units of biblical etymology in the works of William Shakespeare. Biblicisms are heterogeneous and include such groups as biblical names, phraseological units of biblical origin, biblical quotations and sayings, as well as allusions implicitly referring to the Bible, etc. Allusions connected to the Bible are an integral part of various types of classical and modern English texts. The use of biblical allusions in the text creates additional expressiveness and figurativeness and establishes a special contact with readers who have sufficient background knowledge and are able to ‘trace back’ the connection between the allusions used and their source. The works of the great English playwright are saturated with biblical references which have different functions. The purpose of the study is to identify multiple biblical references, namely allusions, in the texts of Shakespearean plays and chronicles, to analyze contexts containing biblicisms from the semantic and stylistic points of view, with regard to the primary sources of biblicisms and their original meanings. The material of the research is the works of W. Shakespeare. The research methods are the contextual method and the method of intertextual analysis. The object of the study is biblical allusions, the subject is their semantics and the specificity of their functioning in the literary pieces of W. Shakespeare. The results of the study show that in Shakespeare’s plays the Bible acts as a precedent text, the regular use of references to which helps the author to encode information with the purpose to draw the audience’s attention to various social misdemeanors, vices, and political crimes in a unique way, and helps the reader to fully perceive the author’s ideas and messages.

DOI: 10.47388/2072-3490/lunn2022-59-3-77-88
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Key words Bible; biblicism; precedent text; biblical name; biblical allusion; Shakespeare

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