William Shakespeare

Catholics

In Shakespeare’s grandfather’s lifetime, most people in England had been Catholic, and in Shakespeare’s lifetime many people secretly remained loyal to the Catholic Church. It’s likely that John Shakespeare, William’s father, was brought up as a Catholic, and there is evidence that he remained a Catholic even after Elizabeth I made it compulsory to attend Protestant services. The generational divide between parents who continued to practice Catholicism and children who converted to the Protestant faith was very deep. Many Protestants believed that anyone who died a Catholic would go to Hell. In Hamlet , which was written around the time Shakespeare’s father died, the ghost of Hamlet’s father explains that he is trapped in purgatory. Hamlet, who has studied at the Protestant University of Wittenberg, at first accepts what the ghost says, even though purgatory was a Catholic idea that Protestants did not believe in. Later, however, Hamlet begins to worry that his father’s ghost might have been sent from Hell by the devil.