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Shakespeare's socio-historical and political context
Transcript of Shakespeare's socio-historical and political context
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
Historical period in which Shakespeare was writing
Period: Elizabeth and Jacobean England
Shakespeare wrote King Lear in
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
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.
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