Shakespeare, Richard II, Political Theology, The King's Two Bodies, Carl Schmitt, Ernst Kantorowicz
In Shakespeare's Richard II, Shakespeare deposes monarchy by exposing the dangerous fictions of The King’s Two Bodies, Carl Schmitt's definition of sovereignty as expounded in Political Theology, and the English tradition of the divine right of kings and royal prerogative. By examining Ernst Kantorowicz's explication of the king's body politic and body natural as found his book The King's Two Bodies, I argue that Shakespeare critiques the popular political theology of his time by exposing the negative political repercussions of an ill-defined body politic. What past scholars have overlooked and failed to do is provide a concrete definition of the body politic and while Richard assumes it is his mystical second self, I argue that Shakespeare provides a definition in Richard II. In turn, Richard II thus becomes a revolutionary play that advocates further dispersal of sovereignty within the power structure of English monarchy, pulling the king down from “the heavens over our heads” (3.3.18) and placing legitimate power with the baronial majority appointed King Henry IV.
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Wride, Terence D., "Dangerous Fictions in Shakespeare's Richard II" (2017). Student Works. 194.
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