Few artists match William Shakespeare in exhibiting the transition of European civilisation from pre-modern to modern forms of law, politics, economics and social relations. Fundamental questions about how law and justice are promoted, or destroyed, emerge through seemingly irreconcilable conflicts that have scarcely been resolved in our own day. In this half-option course, we spend one term examining plays pervasively structured by legal arrangements—master-servant, husband-wife, native-alien, parent-child, monarch-parliament, buyer-seller. All confront fraught transitions from pre-modern to early modern forms. Those fundamentally legal relationships fuel character and action, even where no conventionally legal norm or procedure is at issue.
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