The Leviathan in Thomas Lodge and Robert Greene’s A Looking Glass for London and England



Inspiring the succinct title of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 film, the gaping jaws of the shark is an eidetic image, which has etched itself into the minds of generations of moviegoers (Illustration 2).1 A hell mouth for a secular age, this image capitalises on the archetypal human fear of being consumed, of being devoured by an unseen predator which lies in wait just below the surface. Another leviathan stalks the waters of Thomas Lodge and Robert Greene’s biblical drama A Looking Glass for London and England (c. 1589). The play dramatises the Prophet Jonah’s struggle to encourage the inhabitants of Nineveh to repent their sins. Half-way through the play a hell mouth stage property is used to represent a whale when the Prophet Jonah is swallowed by ‘[t]he proud Leviathan that scours the seas’ and then ‘cast out of the whale’s belly upon the stage(LG IV.ii.1467, 1460–1). Bemoaning his time in the ‘hideous bowels of’ the fish, Jonah compares the whale’s ‘belly’ to ‘deepest hell’ (LG IV.ii.1464, 1478).


Wall Painting Title Page Spiritual Struggle Opening Scene Memorial Reconstruction 
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Copyright information

© Jenny Sager 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of NottinghamUK

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