An enduring debate among scholars has focused on the degree to which Shakespeare's plays are indebted to the Christian culture in which they were created and the manner of demonstrating that indebtedness. R. Chris Hassel, Jr. points out informed allusions to familiar Pauline and Erasmian Christian passages and themes present in Love's Labor's Lost, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado about Nothing, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, and The Merchant of Venice. He argues that not only did Shakespeare's audience understand these allusions but also that these allusions led the audience to recognize their pertinence to the playwright's uniquely Christian comic vision. Furthermore, Hassel feels this understanding of the relationship between Shakespeare's comic artistry and Christianity leads to a greater appreciation of the plays.
R. CHRIS HASSEL JR. is a professor emeritus of English at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of numerous books and articles on Christian motifs in Shakespeare's plays, including Renaissance Drama and the English Church Year and Shakespeare's Religious Language: A Dictionary, which is part of the Athlone Shakespeare Dictionary series.