Miracle Plays the Origin of English Drama: The Predecessors of the Drama English Literature

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Miracle Plays

  • Introduction
  • Mystery plays,
  • Miracle plays,
  • Morality plays and
  • The Interludes

Miracle Plays - 13th Century

  • The lives of Saints
  • Actors-common people, tradesman
  • Emphasizing God՚s will, Religious, ritualistic

About 40 different districts in England Trading Guilds:

  • The Chester cycle (25 plays) ,
  • The Coventry (42) ,
  • The Wakefield (31) ,
  • The York (48) –

A Complete Cycle

  • Creation of the world to the fall of man life of Christ, crucifixion, resurrection ascension and Last judgment
  • The Three Marios, Shepherds՚ Play Corpus Christi play- collective mysteries

Shakespeare must have witnessed one of these plays in the 16th century - at Coventry

Miracle Plays vs Mystery Plays

  • Mystery plays told stories from the bible and gave way to large mystery cycles in which many stories were told sequentially on the same day.
  • Miracle plays told the stories of the Saint՚s lives, sometimes true and sometimes fictional.

Miracle Plays - 13th century


Corpus Christi (June) was in some cities a great occasion for plays in the streets (at Chester 24 such played in a single day, moving to different locations, with all 24 given at each) .

Vaughan Williams described his opera based on Bunyan՚s

The Pilgrim՚s Progress as a morality.

Sum Up


1. The Miracle plays deal with

A. the stories of the life of saints, their biography

B. Biblical themes

C. Heaven and Hell

D. Allegorical characters

2. What were the four major companies enacted Miracle Plays?

1. The Chester cycle (25 plays) ,

2. The Coventry (42) ,

3. The Wakefield (31) ,

4. The York (48) –

3. The Three Marios, Shepherds՚ Play - Corpus Christi play are the examples of ________

A. Morality

B. Mystery

C. Interludes

D. None of the above

Developed by: