Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Purkis, James


The tyrant kings in Shakespeare’s Richard III and Macbeth have been associated by scholars with pre-existing dramatic types such as the devil, the Vice, the Machiavel, as well as with biblical prototypes such as Saul, King Herod, and Judas. This thesis argues that Richard and Macbeth reflect all of these characteristics, but are best typified as figuras of the biblical Antichrist. The evidence, I argue, is situated in concrete biblical allusions diffused throughout the texts by Shakespeare, allusions that have been identified by scholars. I begin by identifying three primary signposts by which the figure of Antichrist was identified in both the Middle Ages and the early modern era: kingship, deception, and finally, the defilement of God’s Temple. Both chapters discuss the association of witchcraft with the advent of Antichrist.