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THE COURT, THE NOBILITY AND THE MONARCH?S RESPONSIBILITIES IN SHAKESPEARE?S ELIZABETHAN HISTORY PLAYS

Abstract

Author(s): Murat Ö?ÜTCÜ

After 1588, several socio-political and economic problems appeared in the Elizabethan society. These problems were aggravated by Elizabeth I’s desire to live royally without responsibility. The correlation between good government and the responsibility of monarchs was emphasised in the literature of the period, as well. Particularly, the depiction of capable and incapable monarchs on the stage and in printed versions of plays made that correlation very topical. For instance, Shakespeare’s Elizabethan history plays depicted monarchs like Henry VI, Richard II or Henry IV who disused or misused their powers and created socio-political problems. The depiction of a possibly good government was depicted through Shakespeare’s Henry V. Henry V’s definition of responsibilities provided solutions for the failings of the system. The depictions of these fictive monarchs, on the other hand, might have been read by the contemporary Elizabethan audiences in relation with their own problems. Thus, this article will analyse to what extend Shakespeare’s Elizabethan history plays reflected contemporary issues about the responsibility of monarchs.

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