Sunday, December 1, 2019

Kant and Shakespeare

Table of Contents Introduction Bolingbroke And Mowbray’s Banishment Unjust Acquirement Of Land Other Offences By King Richard II Misuse Of Power And Freedom By King Henry IV Conclusion Works Cited Introduction According to Immanuel Kant, man is a type of animal requiring a master in a bid to stay in peace and harmony with others. Kant also asserts that it is customary for man to abuse his freedom by infringing on the rights of others. Because of this, Kant explains that man must always have a master to watch and guide his actions.Advertising We will write a custom essay sample on Kant and Shakespeare specifically for you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More However, Kant also acknowledges that the most difficult problem to mankind is to find the highest master who is just by himself (Kant 1). This is because such a high position with no supervision is bound to lead to the abuse of freedom by the master. Kant presents this argument in his  "Sixth Thesis.† Shakespeare fully agrees with the sentiments put forward by Kant. This essay will indicate how Shakespeare stands in agreement with Kant by citing examples from Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of King Richard the Second. Shakespeare concurs with Kant in each and every leadership issue argued upon. While Shakespeare presents the case of a kingdom which is under the rule of egocentric leaders, Kant overtly states the minimal probability of ever finding an overall leader who is just and one who performs his duties in a desirable manner without necessarily being supervised. Shakespeare’s view of human nature and political reality goes hand in hand with Kant’s sentiments. First, this is shown through Shakespeare’s presentation of King Richard who is driven by his own ulterior motives instead of putting the interests of his subjects at heart. King Richard goes beyond the norms to fulfill his own selfish desires. Bolingbroke And Mowbray’s Banishment The first selfish action of King Richard is observed when he banishes Henry Bolingbroke and Thomas Mowbray from England. Even though he justifies his action in the name of administering judgment to the two Dukes, it is obvious that the king does this to cover up his political interests. King Richard II is afraid of being overthrown by the Bolingbroke and Mowbray. Banishing them from his kingdom therefore becomes a good method of getting rid of them. The action by the king therefore upholds the rule that man is guided by his selfish impulses and is bound to fall into temptations that lead to his abuse of power. According to Immanuel Kant, it is difficult to find an overall leader who does not abuse his freedom to get at his own ambitions. Shakespeare shows his approval of the above statement by presenting this case. It is therefore important for man to be supervised in order to limit his quest to abuse his freedom. Unjust Acquirement Of Land Shakespeare shows another case of abuse of freedom by King Richard II when he illegally acquires the land and property of John of Gaunt after his death (Shakespeare 143). The king takes advantage of the fact that no one would question him for such an injustice because he is the senior most in authority.Advertising Looking for essay on philosophy? Let's see if we can help you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More He therefore exploits the freedom and power bestowed unto him by the people for his own good. This is the same case that Immanuel Kant discusses in his thesis. Therefore, Shakespeare consents with Kant as far as the human nature and political reality are concerned. They both uphold the rule that a law should be put in place to limit the freedom of powers conferred to man as he is bound to misuse them in order to satisfy his political quest. Other Offences By King Richard II Apart from the above cases highlighting the abuse of power and freedom by King Richard, the king also commits a series of offences against his own people. First and foremost, he is guilty of using England’s money on unnecessary expenditures such as funding the war against Ireland. Such funds should have been geared towards the development of the kingdom. The king also taxes commoners who are not in a position to pay tax. This is also a case of abuse of power and freedom. Lastly, King Richard II imposes huge fines on the nobles whose ancestors had committed crimes against the kingdom. This is a grave injustice because the nobles are made to pay for the crimes that they did not commit. These cases of abuse of power by King Richard II also indicate that Shakespeare agrees with Kant’s view of human nature and political reality. Misuse Of Power And Freedom By King Henry IV King Henry IV also misuses his power and freedom after he successfully overthrows King Richard II. His first case of abuse of power is when he kills all the people who had been loyal to King Richard II. These peop le include Bushy, Green and the Earl of Wiltshire. It is thought that after seeing all the injustices committed by King Richard II, King Henry IV would replace him as a virtuous leader. However, this is not the case. King Henry merely carries on with the same abuse of power and freedom perpetrated by his predecessor. The similarity between King Henry IV’s leadership and King Richard II’s leadership also points out to the fact that it is difficult to find a leader who will not abuse his freedom and authority in absence of any supervision. Thus, Shakespeare fully agrees with Kant on this issue. Conclusion It can be inferred from the above discussion that Shakespeare concurs with Immanuel Kant’s view of human nature and political reality. They both agree that finding a leader who is able to perform his or her duties in a proper way and without the abuse of authority is impossible. The cases of abuse of power by King Richard II and King Henry IV lend credence to the point that Shakespeare’s views on this matter are similar to Kant’s views. Works Cited Kant, Immanuel. Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View. Trans. Lewis White Beck. New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1963. Print.Advertising We will write a custom essay sample on Kant and Shakespeare specifically for you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More Shakespeare, William. Richard II, ed. by Andrew Gurr. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. Print. This essay on Kant and Shakespeare was written and submitted by user Aubrianna Mccarthy to help you with your own studies. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly. You can donate your paper here.

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