The Second Shepherd’s Play

by

Anonymous

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Sheep Symbol Icon

The sheep Mak steals from the three shepherds—Coll, Gyb, and Daw—symbolizes Christ, the Lamb of God. Wrapped in swaddling clothes and visited by three shepherds bearing gifts, the sheep represents the Christ child in the classic nativity story. The stolen sheep—and the shepherds’ decision to bring it gifts when they think it is a baby—also foreshadows the shepherds’ journey to Bethlehem to bring gifts for Christ. Serving as a link between the comic and religious plotlines, the sheep reveals a deeper purpose to the farcical first part of the play and infuses the entire play with a sense of cohesiveness and religious meaning.

Sheep Quotes in The Second Shepherd’s Play

The The Second Shepherd’s Play quotes below all refer to the symbol of Sheep. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Earthly vs. Spiritual Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Branden Books edition of The Second Shepherd’s Play published in 2011.
Scene 1 Quotes

Manus tuas commendo / Pontio Pilato.

Related Characters: Mak (speaker), Coll, Gyb, Daw
Related Symbols: Sheep
Page Number: 1.194-195
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene 2 Quotes

I am worthy of my meat, / For in a trice I can get / More than they who strive and sweat / All the day long.

Related Characters: Mak (speaker), Gill
Related Symbols: Sheep
Page Number: 2.14-17
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene 4 Quotes

Were a worse plight, I’d find a way still.

Related Characters: Gill (speaker), Mak
Related Symbols: Sheep
Page Number: 4.30
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene 6 Quotes

Oh, my belly! I die! / I vow to God so mild / If ever I you beguiled / Then I will eat this child / That doth in cradle lie!

Related Characters: Gill (speaker), Coll, Gyb, Daw, Mak
Related Symbols: Sheep
Page Number: 6.61-65
Explanation and Analysis:

Sirs, for this deed, take my advice instead / For this trespass. / We will neither curse not fight / Nor dispute our right / We’ll tie him up tight / And toss him in canvas.

Related Characters: Coll (speaker), Gyb, Daw, Mak, Gill
Related Symbols: Sheep
Page Number: 6.138-143
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Second Shepherd’s Play LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Second Shepherd’s Play PDF

Sheep Symbol Timeline in The Second Shepherd’s Play

The timeline below shows where the symbol Sheep appears in The Second Shepherd’s Play. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene 1
Christian Charity Theme Icon
Suffering and Redemption Theme Icon
...into their exhaustion and lie down to rest. Nervous about Mak stealing one of their sheep while they sleep, they force Mak to spend the night between them so that they... (full context)
Scene 2
Christian Charity Theme Icon
...“Always pestered,” but she lets her husband in anyway. When Mak proudly brandishes the stolen sheep, Gill sternly reminds Mak that theft is punishable by hanging. Mak waves off her comments,... (full context)
Earthly vs. Spiritual Theme Icon
Christian Charity Theme Icon
Mak wants to eat the sheep immediately, but Gill stops him, reminding him that Coll, Gyb, and Daw will certainly suspect... (full context)
Scene 3
Christian Charity Theme Icon
Suffering and Redemption Theme Icon
...during the night, where Mak dressed in a wolf skin and stole one of their sheep. (full context)
Christian Charity Theme Icon
...As Mak departs, Daw tells Coll and Gyb that they should go check on their sheep just in case. (full context)
Scene 4
Christian Charity Theme Icon
...tells Gill that the shepherds will immediately suspect him when they realize one of their sheep is missing. Gill is unruffled, confident that their plan to disguise the sheep as a... (full context)
Song as a Means for Transformation Theme Icon
...for the shepherds’ imminent arrival, Gill tells Mak to sing a lullaby to the swaddled sheep while she groans in fake postpartum pain. (full context)
Scene 5
Suffering and Redemption Theme Icon
Back in the fields, the shepherds discover one of their sheep is missing and immediately suspect Mak and Gill. Angrily, the shepherds claim that they will... (full context)
Scene 6
Christian Charity Theme Icon
Suffering and Redemption Theme Icon
...actually came true. The shepherds ignore his comment and tell him that one of their sheep has gone missing. Brazenly, Mak declares that had he witnessed the theft, he would have... (full context)
Earthly vs. Spiritual Theme Icon
Christian Charity Theme Icon
...and must leave at once. She says if she and Mak are lying about the sheep, then she “will eat this child / That doth in cradle lie.” (full context)
Earthly vs. Spiritual Theme Icon
Christian Charity Theme Icon
Suffering and Redemption Theme Icon
The shepherds fail to find their sheep, dead or alive, in Mak’s shack, let alone any food whatsoever. Trying to ease the... (full context)
Earthly vs. Spiritual Theme Icon
Christian Charity Theme Icon
...a kiss. He pulls the cloth back and reveals—to his surprise and Mak’s horror—the stolen sheep. Coll and Gyb finally catch up to Daw and see the sheep lying exposed in... (full context)
Earthly vs. Spiritual Theme Icon
Christian Charity Theme Icon
Suffering and Redemption Theme Icon
Song as a Means for Transformation Theme Icon
...night, the shepherds return to the fields more exhausted than before, having carried their 140-pound sheep back with them. The shepherds collapse onto the grass to sleep when suddenly the skies... (full context)