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Journal Article

The Second Shepherds' Play: A Reconsideration

Maynard Mack, Jr.
PMLA
Vol. 93, No. 1 (Jan., 1978), pp. 78-85
DOI: 10.2307/461821
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/461821
Page Count: 8

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Topics: Theater, Sheep herding, Parody, Playwriting, Wordplay, Stanzas, Farce, Laments, Larceny, Children
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The Second Shepherds' Play: A Reconsideration
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Abstract

Unlike some other plays of the Wakefield cycle, the Second Shepherds' Play reveals a subtle exploitation of dramatic techniques to minimize the distance between secular and sacred experience. Introduction of the shepherds one at a time; Mak's play-acting, magic spell, dream prophecy, and sheep stealing; the parallel between Mak and the Angel are all arranged to give the audience a sense in theatrical terms of the meaning of the shift through the farce-drama from the opening lyrics of static despair to a new mode of celebration. Although symbolically presented as the devil or Antichrist, Mak functions dramatically as the bridge to the birth of Jesus.

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