Shakespeare Against War: Pacifist Readings

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

Abstract

Throughout his career Shakespeare, although steeped in expert knowledge of military matters, weighted his plays towards a desire for peace

- Finds anti-war sentiments throughout Shakespeare’s drama in all genres

- Provides historical contexts of pacifist thought

- Explores just war theory, war crimes and anti-heroism, perpetuation of war through revenge, and more

Whilst Shakespearean drama provides eloquent calls to war, more often than not these are undercut or outweighed by compelling appeals to peaceful alternatives conveyed through narrative structure, dramatic context and poetic utterance. Placing Shakespeare’s works in the history of pacifist thought, Robert White argues that Shakespeare’s plays consistently challenge appeals to heroism and revenge and reveal the brutal futility of war. White also examines Shakespeare’s interest in the mental states of military officers when their ingrained training is tested in love relationships. In imagery and themes, war infiltrates love, with problematical consequences, reflected in Shakespeare’s comedies, histories and tragedies alike. Challenging a critical orthodoxy that military engagement in war is an inevitable and necessary condition, White draws analogies with the experience of modern warfare, showing the continuing relevance of Shakespeare’s plays which deal with basic issues of war and peace that are still evident.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Number of pages293
Edition1st
ISBN (Electronic)978 1 3995 1624 2, 978 1 3995 1623 5
ISBN (Print)978 1 3995 1621 1
Publication statusPublished - May 2024

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