Essays Literature

Shakespeare: Between Politics and Love

These are two recent essays of mine on the immortal bard from Stratford-upon-Avon. I examine the theme of politics and love in Antony and Cleopatra in the first essay, and I examine the theme of politics and love in the general scope of Shakespearean tragedy in the second. The first essay was published as part of my regular literary column at TIC. The second essay, which examines Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra, was published at Merion West (where I frequently freelance).

The Death of Eros & the Tragedy of Love in “Antony and Cleopatra”

Shakespeare, a Political Theorist Too


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    1. Ha. It’s, perhaps, my favorite Shakespearean tragedy. Which explains why I have an entire essay devoted to it over other great choices. Got to reread Shakespeare every now and again. Certainly get to penetrate deeper into his genius as you age!

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      1. I read Hamlet every couple years for just that reason. Antony and Cleopatra is not likely one I will revisit often just because, although I have nothing against it, I do not think it presents Shakespeare at his finest.

        You seems to appreciate his plot and commentary both thematic and political. It seems to me, however, that none of these things accounts for his inimitable prestige. This is not to say he is especially deficient in any of these things, but only that others do them better. I find myself siding with Keats in regarding Shakespeare as the shining exemplar of “negative capability.” Incidentally (and this is perhaps brazenly heterodox), Plato seems to be another. Despite that most people seem to imagine that Plato is preaching to them doctrines of the Forms etc…, I think these folks are only discovering their own dogmatic tendencies in their reading. I think it is quite telling that Plato never appears a character in his own dialogues. I would love to hear your thoughts.


      2. Now it’s beyond coincidence you bring up Hamlet because I finished re-reading Hamlet earlier this month (in part, for the other essay which about 1/3 of it dealt with an examination of Hamlet in the context of scope of Shakespeare’s political tragedies).

        I think you’re spot on with Plato. My various academic articles and more public essays on Plato attempt to reclaim Plato qua Plato. Not that I would want to belittle Plotinus or Augustine, but the whole reading of Plato through Plotinian and post-Augustinian lenses really obscures Plato. I mean, he’s not all that concise or clear on most of what he talked about. He’s rather vague. Not to mention that it’s not even Augustine’s fault for the Platonized Christianity mentality. In the City of God it’s quite clear Augustine holds Plato in lower esteem when compared to the Prophets. The positive things he does say of Plato don’t strike me remotely as indicating the whole “baptized Plato” mentality.

        I think it’s precisely because Plato was unclear and vague that makes him so flexible. It’s not hard to read back onto Plato whatever you might want to utilize him for.

        Though we’ll have to disagree about Shakespeare. Perhaps I’m just a sucker for love. And therefore cannot find others who match his prowess in understanding the machinations of politics as irredeemably antagonistic to love. (Wagner may have read his Shakespeare on that account!)

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      3. We are brothers in our renegade-Platonism. I think this attitude towards Plato follows naturally for a philosopher, though not for a philosophist. That may shed some light on the situation.

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