Andrew Hadfield

in The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199566105
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature


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The questions of Shakespeare's politics and the history of republicanism in early modern England are likely to remain controversial issues, especially when the two are considered together. This article examines Shakespeare's views on republicanism, focusing on Julius Caesar and Anthony and Cleopatra. Julius Caesar shows the republic deprived of its public purpose, its private world similarly corrupted, and also represents Brutus and Cassius's disastrous but affectionate friendship. Anthony and Cleopatra shows the exhaustion and desperation of the principal protagonists of the republican age, and their need to retreat into a private world to escape the forces of modernity. Shakespeare's plays usually represent republican ideals positively, even when they do not succeed, as is the case in the first two Roman plays and Othello.

Keywords: Julius Caesar; Anthony and Cleopatra; Othello; Shakespeare; republican values; early modern England

Article.  8989 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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