Shakespeare's Political Realism: The English History Plays

Front Cover
SUNY Press, Jan 25, 2001 - Political Science - 208 pages
This book provides fresh interpretations of five of Shakespeare s history plays (King John, Richard II, Henry IV, Parts I and II, and Henry V), each guided by the often criticized assumption that Shakespeare can teach us something about politics. In contrast to many contemporary political critics who treat Shakespeare s political dramas as narrow reflections of his time, the author maintains that Shakespeare s political vision is wide-ranging, compelling, and relevant to modern audiences. Paying close attention to character and context, as well as to Shakespeare s creative use of history, the author explores Shakespeare s views on perennially important political themes such as ambition, legitimacy, tradition, and political morality. Particular emphasis is placed on Shakespeare s relation to Machiavelli, turning repeatedly to the conflict between ambition and justice. In the end, Shakespeare s history plays point to the limits of politics even more pessimistically than Machiavelli s realism.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

King John
39
King Richard II
59
King Henry IV Parts 1 and 2
91
King Henry V
125
Conclusion Shakespeare
153
The Omission of the Magna Carta
167
Bibliography
197
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2001)

Tim Spiekerman is Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science at Kenyon College.

Bibliographic information