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Abstract

The occult significance of numbers, now called numerology, was central to the medieval concept of the universe. The York cycle Creation plays all have stanza lengths with occult significance relative to their meaning. Knowledge about the particular occult significance of each of these numbers was widespread. The inherence of the occult in the stanza lengths of these plays may well have been perceptible to their medieval audience. If so, the audience’s pleasure and sense of the religious meaning of these plays were both enhanced.

Author Biography

Natalie Crohn Schmitt is Professor Emerita of both Theatre and English, University of Illinois at Chicago. Her essays on medieval drama have been published in Comparative Drama, Theatre Survey, and Theatre Notebook. They have also appeared in Medieval Drama: Essays Critical and Contextual, ed. Jerome Taylor and Alan H. Nelson, in Medieval Drama, and in Gesture in Medieval Drama and Art, both edited by Clifford Davidson. Most of her research, however, has been on twentieth-century drama.

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