Mystery Plays (6472 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Peter Happe (University of Southampton)
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Texts and Contexts

The fifteenth-century mystery cycles consisted of a series of short plays arranged in a chronological order telling the history of Christianity based upon the biblical account, from the Creation to the Last Judgement. They were performed in towns and cities by actors drawn from trade guilds, each play being based upon a cart, often called a “pageant”. If this were a norm we have only two almost complete examples at our disposal to confirm it: the plays from York and Chester. But even these have substantial differences. There are, however, a considerable number which conformed in part to such a pattern in a variety of ways, and which, by their approximation, help to confirm it, …

Citation: Happe, Peter. "Mystery Plays". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 March 2018 [, accessed 27 October 2020.]

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