Shakespeare and Democracy


Shakespeare has often been seen as either monumentally conservative or secretly subversive. But in the vast literature on him there is relatively little direct treatment of the implications of his work for or against democracy. Looking for clues, I was struck by a pattern of movement across the succession of plays on certain issues we associate with democracy today. His depiction of women tends to move from passive innocence and active violence towards positive independence (both good and evil). His depiction of aggressive war tends to move from a qualified chauvinism towards a sense of massive futility. Above all, his depiction of rulers tends to move from conflict to accountability. The book explores this pattern and considers its possible significance for us today. It has also led on to two shows about Shakespeare which people have found both entertaining and illuminating - see the Theatre page.
Shakespeare and Democracy,  The self-renewing politics of a Global Playwright, Troubador, 2015 - available at www.troubador.co.uk/book_info.asp?bookid=3427
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'A pleasure to read... A breath of fresh air in the unventilated atmosphere of contemporary Shakespearean scholarship'
- Christopher Mulvey, Emeritus Professor of English, University of Winchester
The opening excerpt from Shakespeare and Democracy  can be accessed here.
Shakespeare and Democracy Introduction
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