What is the main theme of the poem “Hudibras”?

One main theme of “Hudibras” is religion, as Butler uses Sir Hudibras to criticize militant Puritans.

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One of the main themes of Samuel Butler’s three-part poem “Hudibras ” is religion. The poem is ultimately an exploration of the religious tensions during the English Civil War. Recall how Sir Hudibras, the mock-hero of the poem, is a militant Puritan. Through his words and bad behavior,...

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One of the main themes of Samuel Butler’s three-part poem “Hudibras” is religion. The poem is ultimately an exploration of the religious tensions during the English Civil War. Recall how Sir Hudibras, the mock-hero of the poem, is a militant Puritan. Through his words and bad behavior, Butler criticizes the behavior of Puritans. Sir Hudibras also travels with his squire, Ralpho, who is a religious independent. As they discuss religious questions and get involved in risky adventures, Butler critiques both points of view. For instance, recall how Sir Hudibras steals money from Sidrophel. Through such dishonest actions, Butler critiques what he saw to be the hypocrisy of Puritanism.

Another example of Butler’s direct religious criticism is evident when Sir Hudibras and Ralpho discuss whether or not the knight should break his oath and accepting a beating in exchange for his release from the stocks. Sir Hudibras says, “Oath are but words, and words but wind.” This attitude towards breaking oaths is a way for Butler to comment on the dishonest nature of Puritans. Here he suggests that Puritans do not take promises seriously and are untrustworthy and irresponsible. Thus, even in scenes that are not directly about religion, Butler raises religious themes and tensions to make his point about Puritans.

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