Relationship of Shakespeare's Works to Politics

When it comes to Shakespeare, you can find many clues about politics at the time of his popularity in his pieces. For example, during the writing and the production of Hamlet, Renaissance Europe was unfolding. Political orders were taking place over orders based on the church, but political ideas were still voiced through religious language. This can be felt in Hamlet, as Shakespeare explored the ways of a monarchy and the threat of usurpation and tyranny. In Romeo and Juliet, the central focus is on the love story.

However, the play is still about two noble families in a Renaissance style Verona, feuding due to class. These plus other examples show how politics affected Shakespeare’s writing.

Multiple times over, Shakespeare attempts to relate his plays to the political movements at the time.

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During the writing of Julius Caesar, for example, Queen Elizabeth I still held the throne, after a continuous reign of forty-one years. She grew weaker, but her power after the defeat of the Spanish Armada remained.

Despite the growing weakness and the long reign, Elizabeth refused to appoint an heir, and the popularity she had with the people developed a sort of religious cult to her. As Caesar’s actual death lead to tyranny when his nephew was crowned, it seemed only logical that Elizabeth leaving the throne would lead to the same.

Political Motives in Hamlet

Hamlet was also written during the Elizabethan era. Many books on melancholy were popular and very widely read at the time. Due to this, the melancholy in Hamlet could have pleased many Elizabethans. This is just an example of how the politics of the time shaped Shakespeare’s writing. He would have written to please the ruler and the masses, and beings that Queen Elizabeth I had a sort of cult following, anything that pleased the Queen pleased the people. The way Hamlet struggled to come to terms with the thought of revenge.

The Impact of a Midsummer Night’s Dream

Shakespeare is even influenced by one of his sillier pieces, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Also written while Elizabeth ruled, the play touched on how politics affect many citizens. For example, Hermia is completely subject to her father’s wishes. Though she is in love with Lysander, her father demands she marry Demetrius. Demetrius would be happy to marry Hermia, but has been unfaithful with Helena, who is now in love with him. Hermia’s father alone is responsible for the unhappiness of three people, due to his class and the politics at the time.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream also displays this theme between Oberon and Titania. They are the King and Queen of the fairies and are feuding because Oberon wants to make a young Indian prince in Titania’s care a knight, and she doesn’t want this. During their feud it begins snowing in the summer, flowers bloom in the winter, and the entire forest could collapse. The actions of the ruling class are directly impacting everyone else.

The Influence of Politics in Macbeth

Macbeth is another play to help prove that Shakespeare’s writing was influenced by politics. Macbeth was written during the reign of King James I. Because of this, many believe that Shakespeare was writing about King James. If that is the case, Shakespeare was pointing out the James was a weak king. Three things are essential to a king, friends, love, and honor, and Macbeth doesn’t have any of this as a ruler. However, more likely the case is the way Shakespeare wrote to please King James. Macbeth, more than any of Shakespeare’s works, contains an abundance of biblical references and imagery. One of the King’s great passions was Scripture, and he even rewrote the Bible in 1611. King James also had an interest in witchcraft, and Shakespeare obviously included a little of that along with portions of James’ book, Daemonologie, which is on the subject.

Politics and Religion in Shakespeare’s Time

It is no real surprise that Shakespeare aimed to please the political ruler at the time of each piece. Each work of his included allusions to political events and gave a view of how the public was affected by them. These days politics and religion are mostly separate, but during Shakespeare’s time, they were one in the same. Both had a major effect on the way Shakespeare wrote, and what he wrote about.

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Relationship of Shakespeare's Works to Politics. (2021, Nov 12). Retrieved from

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