Lucifer, Joost van den Vondel: Introduction

The play "Lucifer," initially published in 1654, holds a significant place in literary history. This analysis delves into various aspects of the play, including its structure, themes, period of writing, and details about the author, Joost van den Vondel.

Editions and Deliverer

The first edition of "Lucifer" was released in 1654. A subsequent edition was published by Plantyn Publishers in Deurne Antwerp in 1967, under the guidance of C. Neutjens, who also played the role of the deliverer.

Facts of the Work

The play consists of 2181 verses divided into five acts, each featuring distinct scenes. The language used is Elevated Dutch, characterized by verbose speech and rhyming patterns. The cast of characters includes prominent figures such as Lucifer, Governor of God; Luciferists, Supporters of Lucifer; Belzebub, Counselor of Lucifer; Belial, Subordinate of Belzebub; Apollion, Subordinate of Belzebub; Gabriel, Archangel and Messenger of God; Michael, Archangel and General of God; Raphael, Archangel and Guardian Angel; Uriël, Squire of Michaël; and Angels singing in a traveling song.


The play revolves around several motives, including themes of power, lust for authority, rebellion (which often alludes to Vondel's historical context), the symbolism of the Turkish crescent, and the color green as associated with the Turks. Additionally, it explores the eternal conflict between good and evil, ultimately highlighting the triumph of good over evil.


At the core of "Lucifer" is the recurring theme that pride precedes a downfall. The play serves as a cautionary tale, illustrating how delusions of grandeur are met with consequences.

Period of Writing

The time of writing of "Lucifer" is intricately tied to the political and cultural context of the era. The play emerged during a period when Turkish powers posed as opponents to Christianity. This backdrop adds layers of meaning to the narrative. The play faced prohibitions due to perceived blasphemy, as it unfolds within the celestial realm. Structured in five acts, "Lucifer" follows the classical dramatic tradition.

Author Details

Joost van den Vondel, the playwright behind "Lucifer," was born on November 17, 1587, in Cologne. He was raised by Anabaptist parents who fled religious persecution under the rule of Alva. The family later settled in Utrecht. Vondel inherited his father's silk wholesale business in 1596 and married Maeyken de Wolf, a girl from his neighborhood. He became a member of the Brabant chamber of rhetoric and established connections with notable figures such as PC Hooft, Hugo de Groot, and C. van Baerle. An intriguing aspect of Vondel's life is his conversion to Catholicism around 1640, a significant departure from his Protestant origins. He later worked as a bookkeeper at the Amsterdamse Bank van Lening. Throughout his career, Vondel employed biblical narratives as metaphors to address contemporary concerns. He passed away on February 5, 1679, in Amsterdam, leaving behind a legacy that continues to influence Dutch literature. In conclusion, "Lucifer" by Joost van den Vondel stands as a remarkable work that delves into themes of pride, power, and the eternal struggle between good and evil. Its historical context, author's journey, and enduring impact on literature make it an essential piece in the realm of Dutch dramatic arts.

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