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The Prodigal Son in English and American LiteratureFive Hundred Years of Literary Homecomings$
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Alison M. Jack

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198817291

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198817291.001.0001

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The Prodigal Son in Elizabethan Literature

The Prodigal Son in Elizabethan Literature

(p.27) 2 The Prodigal Son in Elizabethan Literature
The Prodigal Son in English and American Literature

Alison M. Jack

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the influence of Roman comedies, such as those of Terence, on the development of a Prodigal Son tradition in Elizabethan literature. It is argued that the potential danger of rebellion against authority, and fears about change and its consequences in a period of stability following religious and economic upheaval, offer a context in which the parable might be meaningfully adapted. The ubiquity of the paradigm is explained in the light of this historical setting, and the tendency for writers to identify with the figure of the Prodigal is explored.

Keywords:   Roman comedies, Prodigal Son plays, punishment of rebellion, re-establishing order, self-identification

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