Napping in the Arbour in the Digby Mary Magdalene Play
This paper analyzes the Digby Mary Magdalene play's use of a motif or 'meme' common in medieval romance, in which a character's slumber in an orchard, garden or arbour precipitates a supernatural encounter with the Otherworld. In depicting Mary Magdalene's pivotal meeting with an angel when she falls asleep in an arbour, the Digby Mary Magdalene play recalls analogous situations in secular romance and thus situates its depiction of Mary as both saint and anti-romance-heroine within a web of intertextual references. As a powerful fusion of romantic and spiritual adventure centred on a strong female protagonist, the play is best viewed within a broad range of late medieval literature that was popular with its increasingly literate late medieval East Anglian audiences.
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