Political Approaches to Shakespeare

Authored by: Hugh Grady

The Shakespearean World

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415732529
eBook ISBN: 9781315778341
Adobe ISBN: 9781317696193

10.4324/9781315778341.ch30

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Abstract

Shakespeare was keenly interested in the workings of political power. It is no exaggeration to say that power is one of the most prevalent themes of his overall œuvre, along with death and eros. It is the major intellectual issue of the histories and Roman plays, and a major if unevenly distributed one in the tragedies and romances. Only in the comedies is it subordinated; but even there, as the examples of As You Like It or Much Ado About Nothing demonstrate, it is not entirely absent. If we include sexual politics as an aspect of political power, it is a major theme in the comedies as well. There are, of course, several ways to look at what constitutes Shakespeare’s political context. Since this collection contains separate chapters on Shakespeare, gender, and sexuality – and others on race, colonialism, and ecology – the present chapter will undertake a narrower and more traditional discussion of the political, leaving those other issues to be discussed elsewhere in this volume.

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