Shakespeare and the Ideal of Love

Excerpts & Samples

By Jill Line

Publisher : Inner Traditions/Bear & Company

ABOUT Jill Line

Jill Line
Jill Line earned a master’s degree from the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, and taught in the drama department of the University of Surrey, Roehampton. She lectures on Shakespeare for many organizations, including the Prince of Wales’ Summer School for Teachers, part o More...



Reveals the influence of the Renaissance scholar-priest Marsilio Ficino on Shakespeare and how the Neoplatonic philosophy of love shaped the inner meaning of his work

• Shows how Shakespeare’s works offer a path back to the divine unity of all things

• Explains the role of love in the Christian-Platonic concept of the three worlds

In Love’s Labours Lost, Shakespeare talks of the true Promethean fire that is lit by the doctrine he reads in women’s eyes. What is this doctrine and what is this true Promethean fire to which it gives birth? In Shakespeare and the Ideal of Love, Jill Line shows that Shakespeare shared the perennial philosophy of a long line of teachers, including Hermes Tristmegistus, Pythagoras, Plato, Plotinus, and especially the Florentine scholar and mystic Marsilio Ficino. The answer to these questions, Line claims, lies in Ficino’s Christian-Platonic philosophy of love, from which all Shakespeare’s plays have their genesis.

Love, according to Ficino, is the force that inspired the creation of the worlds of the angelic mind, the soul, and the material, and it is through love that each of these worlds expands into the next. Love is also the vehicle that allows human beings to make the return journey to the source of their being, where they find unity in God. This is the path on which all of Shakespeare’s lovers embark. Jill Line explains how Shakespeare’s plays represent more than poetic literary constructs: They are mirrors of the progress of the soul, in many conditions and situations, as it returns to the divine unity of all things.
“Jill Line’s work is a part of the scholarship that has inspired my work with Shakespeare--a scholarship that is unafraid to look at the Renaissance and Classical roots of Shakespeare’s great wisdom and thereby illumine his works.”
Mark Rylance, actor and Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, 1996–2006

“Jill Line has brought to clear light the underlying Platonic symbolism of the plays as exemplified by Ficino’s Platonic Academy in Florence. I know of no other study that offers such an illuminating path into the deeper poetic sense of Shakespeare.”
Joseph Milne, Ph.D., Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Kent at Canterbury

“More than an analysis of Shakespeare, Ideal of Love shows how the Bard’s lessons are just as meaningful today as when they were performed four centuries ago. Fans of Dame Francis Yates will be particularly drawn to this book.”
Mark Stavish, Institute for Hermetic Studies, Nov 2006

". . . a fine blend of literary criticism and spiritual interpretation."
Diane C. Donovon, California Bookwatch, Dec 2006

"If you are a devoted fan of the Bard, this book will make you look at his plays in a new way."
Karyn Johnson, Curled Up With A Good Book, Mar 2007