Literature Essay 4

Essay prompt: “Is the language of Foxe still compelling today?”

The writings of Foxe truly are a masterpiece. Throughout the centuries they have been lovingly read by families and pastors alike, at one point so lovingly they found themselves chained to church podiums. The stories of Lady Jane Grey, Latimer and Ridley and Thomas Cranmer are some of the most famous among them. They tales told of sophistication and defiance, faith and execution. Wonderfully written examples of protestants challenging the catholic church. But in this day of technology and internet, does this brilliant literature still compel people? Well, I had to read it, and after reading it I must to argue that yes it does.

Although the Catholic and Protestant flames of war have dimmed some since Foxe’s time, the human passion has not. Reading about these people, who they are and what they went through and fought for captures every part of the human spirit. The courage and determination it takes to fight for the things you believe in. The raw emotion, literacy and pride it takes to construct a debate for and about your faith. The fear, and yet the hope for a brighter tomorrow these people went through when they heard their execution date. Its just as inspiring now as it was when Foxe first placed ink to paper.

My personal favorite story is the tale of Lady Jane Grey. She was a pious protestant, and cousin to young king Edward VI. Edwards ambitious adviser, John Dudley, convinced the boy to write a will proclaiming Jane to inherit to the throne; for if he did not his catholic half-sister Mary would rule after his death. The boy died, and Jane was immediately married to Dudley’s son and whisked into queendom. But sadly, her rule would last no more than nine days. Mary Tudor, Edwards half-sister, very much wanted to steal the throne and had the popular vote to do so. Because she had the public support, she imprisoned Jane, her husband and her father in the Tower of London, proclaimed herself queen, and scheduled all of their public executions.

Jane was only seventeen at the time, and although she was young she was incredibly well spoken and educated. She was also very brave, and never once denounced her faith. She said this before her death, ‘I think that at the supper I neither receive flesh nor blood, but bread and wine; which bread when it is broken, and the wine when it is drunken, put me in remembrance how that for my sins the body of Christ was broken, and his blood shed on the cross. …I ground my faith upon God’s word, and not upon the church… The faith of the church must be tried by God’s word, and not God’s word by the church; neither yet my faith.’ With her faith in God sealed, she also sealed her fate and died with dignity.

That is only one example out of Foxe’s writings, but there are many more just as inspiring and human as this. The question was will this work still compel people, even with the destractions of modern day? My answer is as long as there are educated people reading these works and passing them down to students like me, us students will always take the time to become inspired and compelled by these works.



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