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The Routledge Companion to Shakespeare and Philosophy

Edited by: Craig Bourne , Emily Caddick Bourne

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  October  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138936126
eBook ISBN: 9781315677019
Adobe ISBN:

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Book description

Iago?s ?I am not what I am? epitomises how Shakespeare?s work is rich in philosophy, from issues of deception and moral deviance to those concerning the complex nature of the self, the notions of being and identity, and the possibility or impossibility of self-knowledge and knowledge of others. Shakespeare?s plays and poems address subjects including ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and social and political philosophy. They also raise major philosophical questions about the nature of theatre, literature, tragedy, representation and fiction.

The Routledge Companion to Shakespeare and Philosophy is the first major guide and reference source to Shakespeare and philosophy. It examines the following important topics:

  • What roles can be played in an approach to Shakespeare by drawing on philosophical frameworks and the work of philosophers?
  • What can philosophical theories of meaning and communication show about the dynamics of Shakespearean interactions and vice versa?
  • How are notions such as political and social obligation, justice, equality, love, agency and the ethics of interpersonal relationships demonstrated in Shakespeare?s works?
  • What do the plays and poems invite us to say about the nature of knowledge, belief, doubt, deception and epistemic responsibility?
  • How can the ways in which Shakespeare?s characters behave illuminate existential issues concerning meaning, absurdity, death and nothingness?
  • What might Shakespeare?s characters and their actions show about the nature of the self, the mind and the identity of individuals?
  • How can Shakespeare?s works inform philosophical approaches to notions such as beauty, humour, horror and tragedy?
  • How do Shakespeare?s works illuminate philosophical questions about the nature of fiction, the attitudes and expectations involved in engagement with theatre, and the role of acting and actors in creating representations?


The Routledge Companion to Shakespeare and Philosophy is essential reading for students and researchers in aesthetics, philosophy of literature and philosophy of theatre, as well as those exploring Shakespeare in disciplines such as literature and theatre and drama studies. It is also relevant reading for those in areas of philosophy such as ethics, epistemology and philosophy of language.

Table of contents

Prelims Download PDF
Introduction Download PDF
Chapter  1:  Shakespeare, Montaigne, and philosophical anti-philosophy Download PDF
Chapter  2:  The (new and old) metaphysical reading of Shakespeare Download PDF
Chapter  3:  On the kinship of Shakespeare and Plato Download PDF
Chapter  4:  Lear as a tragedy of errors Download PDF
Chapter  5:  Figures unethical Download PDF
Chapter  6:  Conversational perversions, implicature and sham cancelling in Othello  Download PDF
Chapter  7:  ‘Seize it, if thou dar’st’ Download PDF
Chapter  8:  The Sonnets and Attunement Download PDF
Chapter  9:  ‘To thine own self be true’ Download PDF
Chapter  10:  Wittgenstein’s enigmatic remarks on Shakespeare Download PDF
Chapter  11:  Shakespeare, intention, and the ethical force of the involuntary Download PDF
Chapter  12:  ‘Thou weep’st to make them drink’ Download PDF
Chapter  13:  Shakespeare, moral judgements, and moral realism Download PDF
Chapter  14:  Blindness and double vision in Richard III  Download PDF
Chapter  15:  Horatio’s Stoic philosophy Download PDF
Chapter  16:  Sovereignty, social contract, and the state of nature in King Lear  Download PDF
Chapter  17:  Justice Download PDF
Chapter  18:  Kiss me, K… Download PDF
Chapter  19:  The duty of inquiry, or why Othello was a fool Download PDF
Chapter  20:  The evil deceiver and the evil truth-teller Download PDF
Chapter  21:  Climates of trust in Macbeth  Download PDF
Chapter  22:  The sceptic’s surrender Download PDF
Chapter  23:  ‘Nothing will come out of nothing’ Download PDF
Chapter  24:  ‘And nothing brings me all things’ Download PDF
Chapter  25:  Shakespeare and The Absurd Download PDF
Chapter  26:  Nietzsche’s Hamlet puzzle Download PDF
Chapter  27:  Time and the other in Cymbeline  Download PDF
Chapter  28:  Shakespeare and selfhood Download PDF
Chapter  29:  Shakespeare and the mind Download PDF
Chapter  30:  Macbeth and the self Download PDF
Chapter  31:  ‘Hit it, hit it, hit it’ Download PDF
Chapter  32:  Love, identity and the way of ideas in Twelfth Night  Download PDF
Chapter  33:  A taste for slaughter Download PDF
Chapter  34:  Grotesque laughter as a coping mechanism in Titus Andronicus  Download PDF
Chapter  35:  Seduced by Romanticism Download PDF
Chapter  36:  Beauty and time in the sonnets Download PDF
Chapter  37:  Role-playing on stage Download PDF
Chapter  38:  Building character Download PDF
Chapter  39:  Shakespeare’s theatrical openings Download PDF
Chapter  40:  Shakespeare’s embodied Stoicism Download PDF
Chapter  41:  The history plays Download PDF
Index Download PDF
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