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Themes In Shakespeare Essay

885 words - 4 pages

Illusion and realityThe first is Shakespeare's exploration of the nature of illusion and reality. This is manifest in a number of ways:Shakespeare regularly plays with the illusion and deception inherent in the medium of theatre itself, from the complications arising from a boy actor playing a girl dressed up as a boy, to plays-within-plays. By analogy, the theatre becomes the world, in which our assumptions about what is real and what is not may in themselves be illusions.States of altered reality are a regular element of Shakespeare's plays. They may be minor alterations, such as those induced by love (Antony in Anthony and Cleopatra). They may major alterations of behaviour, such as ...view middle of the document...

Power politics and governanceThe second is Shakespeare's interest in the ordered governance of the state, and the problems that beset it. In almost every Shakespeare play - even the comedies - this lurks somewhere in the background, and of course in many it is to the fore, from Henry V to The Tempest. Of particular interest is the notion of the head of the system - be he king, duke, prince, or some other appellation - being a figure of an almost God-like status, who in return is expected to fulfill, in an even-handed way, the responsibilities, free from personal considerations, that go with that status (this figure is often seen in the comedies). Many of the plays revolve around this in some fashion or another, looking at ways in which such a balance is altered, by such things as, for example, love in Antony and Cleopatra, obsessional revenge in Hamlet, personal considerations in King Lear, or, indeed, magical powers in The Tempest.Such problems were of particular interest to the 16th and early 17th Centuries, grappling with new concepts of governance and a world of rapid change, in which older methods were found wanting. Add to this the need to evolve new methods of governance for vastly increased or new empires, whether in the New World or in Europe, and...

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