Shakespearean Tragedy and the Common Law: The Art of Punishment

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P. Lang, 1998 - 208 pages
Shakespearean Tragedy and the Common Law examines punishment in Shakespeare's tragedies from the perspective of English Renaissance common law cases and theory. William Shakespeare's work is grounded conceptually in the «artificial» reason of common law as embodied by the great jurist of the age, Sir Edward Coke. Coke's legal rationale is sufficiently distinct from our own to suggest that a reasonable spectator in Renaissance England would interpret key elements of Shakespeare's art differently than we do today. Punishment, the sine qua non of these plays, is treated via a spectrum of legal theories: retribution, restitution, deterrence, and reform. Dr. Hawley's close examination of all ten plays and some fifty cases reveals how law, art, and philosophy shape Shakespeare's tragic vision.

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Complicity and Tragic Retribution
Macbeth and the Reasonableness Standard in Law

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