Shakespeare and Violence, first published in 2002, connects to anxieties about the problem of violence, and shows how similar concerns are central in Shakespeare's plays. At first Shakespeare exploited spectacular violence for its entertainment value, but his later plays probe more deeply into the human propensity for gratuitous violence, especially in relation to kingship, government and war. In these plays and in his major tragedies he also explores the construction of masculinity in relation to power over others, to the value of heroism, and to self-control. Shakespeare's last plays present a world in which human violence appears analogous to violence in the natural world, and both kinds of violence are shown as aspects of a world subject to chance and accident. This book examines the development of Shakespeare's representations of violence and explains their importance in shaping his career as a dramatist.
R. A. Foakes is Professor Emeritus at the Department of English, UCLA.
List of illustrations; Preface; 1. Introduction: 'Exterminate all the brutes'; 2. Shakespeare's culture of violence; 3. Shakespeare and the display of violence; 4. Plays and movies: Richard III and Romeo and Juliet; 5. Shakespeare on war: King John to Henry V; 6. Violence, Renaissance tragedy, and Hamlet; 7. The central tragedies and violence; 8. Roman violence and power games; 9. Violence and the late plays; 10. Afterword; Index.