War, Peace and Knowledge in William Shakespeare’s Drama
BEN MANSOUR, Salima
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This dissertation deals with three representative plays by William Shakespeare with reference to the themes of war, peace, love and knowledge. The three plays are Henry VI, Coriolanus, and The Tempest, written respectively in 1594, 1607 and in 1611. One of the arguments developed in the dissertation is that Shakespeare’s position concerning these themes was determined to a large extent by the intellectual and socio-political contexts in which they were produced. For example, the analysis shows that Henry VI was produced at a time of political turmoil and fear of political instability due to intrigue both at home and abroad, and that Shakespeare observed an ambiguous position towards war and peace. He praised the ideal of peace, he put more emphasis on the danger of war which can lead the country back to the chaos of the War of the Roses. War remained in the background, but it did not disappear completely as Elizabeth I and Henry VI were depicted as royals in love with knowledge. In Coriolanus, Shakespeare did not fail to poke fun at the war mongers. The times changed with the ascension to power by King James known for his pacifism. As he moved to the writing of The Tempest, Shakespeare depicted the Renaissance man par excellence in the shape of Prospero. The latter introduced revolutionary ideals in the practice of politics. Prospero was regarded as the best representative of this Renaissance man also who linked up the practice of politics with that of ethics. Knowledge became the best means to impose power and ensure political stability. The study is carried from the new-historicist perspective since it pays attention to the political and intellectual contexts of their production and consumption.