The historical plays of William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was a major writer of plays. His historical plays like those that deal with the end of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire have popular appeal. Macbeth the Scottish play has a message as well.

History should be written with a view to understand the past. History is studied to understand the present as well. The historical plays had a message for the people of Shakespeare ‘s day. As our historical era is different to the time that Shakespeare was alive new meanings are given to us moderns as well. The people of ancient Rome saw events in a different way to the way Shakespeare saw them.

Brutus and others killed Caeser because they feared that he would be king. But did he seek to kill the Republic? Their actions led to a civil war that saw the end of the Republic and the rise of the Empire.  The message I get from these plays is that to do wrong in the name of justice is to unleash even greater evil.

What about Shakespeare himself?  He lived under different monarchs. There was a rumour that he may have been a secret Catholic. Freedom of speech was not on the agenda in his day. In his time there were Catholic republics in Italy. Did people see kingship as a stable form of government? Did some people see republics as the hope for freedom?  We will never really know what Shakespeare thought. In Thomas More book Utopia the prince was elected and he had no power. The local communities ruled themselves.


Author: irishfabian

This blog expresses my views about the world. I am a member of the Irish Labour Party in Cork East.

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