In the opinion of the present study, a masterwork of literature is a work that teaches human beings how to live, in a carefully constructed artifact; in venerable terms, a work that constructs a fable (a narrative) whose intellectual function is to convey an idea (what is taught). Every such work is passionately convinced of the seriousness of what is taught; and its passion is strictly disciplined by a narrative divided into parts that are internally coherent, and that appear in an order that cannot be changed.
All five of the masterworks analyzed in the present study passionately teach, in splendid artifacts, that Christianity is adequate to the dangers of life, and capable of irradiating the human soul. The indispensable reference of all five is the Christian Bible; the God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; the aspiration is salvation.
The intent of all five--Spenser's The Faerie Queene (Book One), Shakespeare's Macbeth, Milton's Paradise Lost, Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, and Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment--is thus ad dei gloriam, the glorification of the God of Christianity.