The medieval construct of demonic evil: an inverted incarnation

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    English: This article explores the concept of inversion as an essential ingredient in the medieval understanding of Good and Evil. It argues that demonic evil is often, but here specifically in the Dutch rederijker drama Mariken van Nieumeghen, constructed and represented as an inversion of the incarnation of Christ. Christ is the true Logos, or Word, made flesh, offering love and reconciliation, teaching knowledge of the Father, and bringing salvation; the drama’s Moenen is the devil disguised in scholarly garb, offering Mariken wealth and pleasure as well as to teach her all languages and the seven liberal arts, b ut leading her ultimately to damnation. The inversion technique is structural in a further sense, as Mariken’s initiation into the world of evil is analysed as involving a series of inversions of the Catholic sacraments, all of which were either instituted by Christ or founded on the Church’s interpretation of events during his incarnation. Issues of power (including gendered power) attendant upon the dichotomy of inversion of the forces of Good and Evil in the play are also discussed.