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English Literature   >   Shakespeare and Politics

Politics in Shakespeare's Time

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Shakespeare and Politics

In this course, Professor Andrew Hadfield (University of Sussex) explores the political concerns relevant to Shakespeare’s plays. In the first module, we explore the political landscape of Shakespeare’s day, especially the right of the people to depose a bad monarch. In the second, we look at ‘the English scene’ in Macbeth, and the necessary virtues of a good monarch. In the third, we examine the use of rhetoric in Richard III, and the ways in which it can be used for evil. We continue to look at rhetoric in the fourth module, as it appears in Brutus’ speech in Julius Caesar, and the symptoms of the decline of the Roman Republic. In the fifth, we consider Hamlet and the question of tyranny. Finally, in the sixth, we bring these themes to a conclusion.

Politics in Shakespeare's Time

In this module, we think about the political landscape of Shakespeare’s day, focusing on: (i) the differences between Elizabethan England and the English bureaucratic state today, (ii) arguments over a monarch’s right to rule, (iii) dispelling the popular myth that the ‘divine right of kings’ was a medieval belief, (iv) Shakespeare and his contemporaries’ concern with deposing monarchs, for example in the tract Vindiciae Contra Tyrranos (1597) and (v) the question of whether tyranny or civil war was worse.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Hadfield, A. (2022, October 20). Shakespeare and Politics - Politics in Shakespeare's Time [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Hadfield, A. "Shakespeare and Politics – Politics in Shakespeare's Time." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 20 Oct 2022,


Prof. Andrew Hadfield

Prof. Andrew Hadfield

Sussex University