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Rethinking Shakespeare's Political PhilosophyFrom Lear to Leviathan$
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Alex Schulman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748682416

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748682416.001.0001

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Shakespeare and the Theological–Political Problem

Shakespeare and the Theological–Political Problem

Chapter:
(p.156) Chapter 5 Shakespeare and the Theological–Political Problem
Source:
Rethinking Shakespeare's Political Philosophy
Author(s):

Alex Schulman

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748682416.003.0005

This chapter addresses the political consequences of bondage understood as total bodily alienation through Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice and Measure for Measure. These plays present areas where the ideal of contract, in its proto-modern sense, clashes with traditional understandings of human bonds, especially familial ones. Merchant pits patriarchal authority against freedoms that allow freer circulation, while Measure portrays how the idea that God owns persons clashes with the related idea that the state owns citizens. The chapter ultimately questions which aspects of collective human life are religious or political; the deep conflict is not bigotry versus tolerance, but political ethics versus theology.

Keywords:   Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, patriarchal authority, freedom, political ethics, theology

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