Date and Composition
of the York Cycle and the York Crucifixion
- written text comes from the collection
of plays in the manuscript called the "York Register" of the Corpus
Christi play, dated ca. 1463-77
- would have been performed on a
pageant wagon, in a procession through the streets of York with other pageants
of the cycle
- guild "ownership" ascribed
to the Pinners (makers of wooden pegs)
- one of the plays whose author
appears to have been an anonymous literary artist who has come to be known
to modern critics as the "York Realist" because of his skill at
creating dramatic realism through the use of
- "concrete detail,
- colloquial speech, and
- grotesque humor" (Longman,
- focuses on the end of Christ's
- The ignorant Soldiers responsible
for crucifying Christ do not realize the" larger significance of their
actions" (506), thus "they can be seen as representing fallen mankind
in need of Christ's forgiveness" (506).
- Humor is generated through the
banter and physical buffoonery of the Soldiers as they try to make Christ
stretch to fit the holes they have bored in the cross.
- Audience members, laughing
at this comedy, are made to feel complicit in the death of Christ.
- This textual and physical
comedy stands in stark contrast to Christ's virtually silent suffering.
- This moving portrayal
of Christ's stoicism balances "the heroic Christ who defeats
Satan and the human Christ who suffers" (506-7).
- Like the five wounds of
Christ depicted on Sir Gawain's shield, this portrayal of the suffering
Christ was a manifestation of the movement toward personal piety,
"intended to inspire the laity to meditation by focusing on Christ's
- Return to Medieval
- | 373
Syllabus | 373
Assignments | 373
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