Kingship in Shakesperean Plays

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Kingship in Shakesperean Plays

Due to the powerful influence of the monarchy, the nature, duties and responsibilities of kingship were of particular interest to Shakespeare. The mark of a bad king was the decline of the political, social and economic climates, while the mark of a good king was the blossoming of such worlds. Therefore, the characteristics of the person occupying the kingship were crucial to the health of the nation. Shakespeare explores this issue in many of his plays by examining the traits of poorly fulfilled kingships, and the political and social ramifications of such monarchical failures. He does this most notably in Macbeth and Richard II. In both plays Shakespeare ultimately concludes that tyrants are formed by their own lack of foresight, strong lusts for power, overly large egos, unstable natures and rash tempers. When a king fails his country it is because he has neglected his duties and responsibilities to the state. To do so is to spit in the face of God, the state and the people. Thus, in both Macbeth and Richard II, Shakespeare defines the nature, duties and responsibility of a successful kingship by exploring the ramifications and manifestations of a denial of or lack of such characteristics in the person occupying this position.

Throughout the Shakespearian plays, particularly in those that explore the issues of kingship, the theme of foresight runs strong. A king must have considerable levels of foresight within his nature in order to retain the kingship. He must be able to identify potential threats to his throne by recognizing unhealthy lusts for power and ambition in the men and women that surround him. If a king does not have this foresight within his nature, or if he ...

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...God more greatly than a blasphemous utterance from a commoner. A king’s sacrilege is divine betrayal to the highest degree. Thus, in both Macbeth and Richard II, Shakespeare outlines the duties of kingship, and implies that to deny such responsibilities is to betray God, the state and the people.

Throughout his plays, Shakespeare explores the nature, duties and responsibilities of kingship. A healthy amount of foresight and suspicion must be within a king’s nature in order to recognize ambition in the men and women that surround him. He must also be benevolent, reward the loyal, and think of the wants and needs of his nation before he thinks of his own selfish interests. To not do so will result in not only the devastation of a nation, but it is also sacrilege. Shakespeare explores and supports this theme most notably convincingly in Macbeth and Richard II.

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