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How Shakespeare Put Politics on the StagePower and Succession in the History Plays$
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Peter Lake

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780300222715

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300222715.001.0001

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Contexts and structures

Contexts and structures

(p.1) Part I Contexts and structures
How Shakespeare Put Politics on the Stage

Peter Lake

Yale University Press

This introductory chapter provides an outline of some of the ideological, political, and institutional structures and contexts within which the plays under discussion in this study were produced and consumed. Shakespeare's stagings of history were peculiarly intense in their concentration on the doings of kings and princes. In an emergently absolutist personal monarchy and during a period in which issues of succession and legitimacy were much on people's minds, plays that were so insistently about kings and queens were also quintessentially political plays. As a great deal of recent work has shown, such political concerns could well structure and, in their turn, be structured by, parallel sets of concerns and beliefs about the workings of the social order and the gender hierarchy. Political narratives then became useful ways to figure and interrogate the dynamics of economic exchange and value determined by the market or the workings of the gender hierarchy.

Keywords:   Shakespeare, personal monarchy, political plays, social order, gender hierarchy, political narratives

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