Shakespearean Tragedy and the Common Law: The Art of Punishment

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"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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About the author (1998)

The Author: William M. Hawley is the author of "Critical Hermeneutics and Shakespeare's History Plays" (Peter Lang, 1992) and a novel, "Death du Jour." He received his Ph.D. in Dramatic Art from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1990.

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