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Shakespeare's socio-historical and political context

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liz paca

on 3 February 2014

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Transcript of Shakespeare's socio-historical and political context

Shakespeare's Socio-historical and political context
Social life
Elizabethan England was an extremely hierarchical society

Respect and deference had to be shown to the wealthy and powerful as well as to parents and the elderly

King Lear demonstrates how fragile the fabric of Elizabethan society actually was
Divine Right of Kings
Divine Right of Kings was under question, and monarchs were revealed as human and fallible, able to make mistakes.

Similarly, those not
divinely appointed could gain huge power
Position of Women
Women's lives lives consisted of :

arranged, loveless marriages
short life expectancies
constant child bearing




If a women's father made a request she would have to obey


Conclusion
Historical period in which Shakespeare was writing
Period: Elizabeth and Jacobean England

Shakespeare wrote King Lear in
1605

During this period:

The Queen produced no male heir and so the succession issue fueled fears that a dynastic struggle would occur
Important things in Society
Primogeniture:

A rule that the eldest son inherits everything, even if the eldest is a daughter or a bastard son


Change in Social structure
The shape of society was changing, as the power of the government alongside the rule of the monarch grew.

The old feudal society was disappearing

The nobility grew and took on new responsibility, in turn creating a larger middle class who could exert power.
James I and King Lear
Shakespeare would have seen King James I up close, which may have influenced the depiction of court life in King Lear, both in Lear’s flaws as a leader and the widespread flattery, corruption and infighting in his court.
Politics
There had been political turmoil, with
the threat of Catholic invasion and rebellion from within

The year when King Lear was being written :
1605 The Gunpowder Plot

Catholicism and Protestantism= religious tensions

Feudal politics to politics of capitalism


Shakespeare wrote King Lear during a time of social and political upheaval.


Influenced by events such as the succession crisis, the change in social structure and the religious and political tensions


Civil war, rebellion, distrust and loss of divine right may have also influenced Shakespeare's themes in King Lear
Full transcript