This groundbreaking work, first published in 2005, reveals exactly how Shakespeare was influenced by contemporary strands in political thought that were critical of the English crown and constitution. Shakespeare has often been seen as a conservative political thinker characterised by an over-riding fear of the 'mob'. Hadfield argues instead that Shakespeare's writing emerged out of an intellectual milieu fascinated by republican ideas. From the 1590s onwards, he explored republican themes in his poetry and plays: political assassination, elected government, alternative constitutions, and, perhaps most importantly of all, the problem of power without responsibility. Beginning with Shakespeare's apocalyptic representation of civil war in the Henry VI plays, Hadfield provides a series of powerful new readings of Shakespeare and his time. For anyone interested in Shakespeare and Renaissance culture, this book is required reading.
Adrew Hadfield is Professor of English at the University of Sussex.
Introduction: was Shakespeare a Republican?; Part I. Republican Culture in the 1590s: 1. Forms of Republican culture in late sixteenth-century England; 2. Literature and Republicanism in the age of Shakespeare; Part II. Shakespeare and Republicanism: Introduction: Shakespeare's early Republican career; 3. Shakespeare's Pharsalia: the first Tetralogy; 4. The beginning of the Republic: Venus and Lucrece; 5. The end of the Republic: Titus Andronicus and Julius Caesar; 6. The Radical Hamlet; 7. After the Republican moment; Conclusion; Bibliography.