Shakespeare and the Law -- George Frisch
Elizabethan law and judicial process feature prominently in many of Shakespeare's works. Some 25 of his plays incorporate humorous or serious legal considerations into their fabric; while in two of them a trial is a central to the action of the play.
In this two-hour session we will look at passages from three plays in both their dramatic and historic contexts as an Elizabethan playgoer might have understood them in order to explore, or perhaps even answer, the following questions:
1. What does the graveyard scene in Hamlet have to do with the Norman Conquest, Henry VIII's destruction of the monasteries, and the prominence of the Inns of Court in Elizabethan society; and how does that bear on one of the central themes in Hamlet?
2. What does the mob scene in Henry VI, Part 2 ("First thing we do let's kill all the lawyers") have to do with Elizabethan crime and the centuries' earlier death of St. Thomas Becket; and how does that bear on a central theme of the play?
3. What do the opening words of the play in the first scene of Richard II have to do with Magna Carta and feudal tenure; how does that bear on a central theme of the play; and what has that to do with Lord Essex's rebellion in 1601?
We will also look at The Merchant of Venice and two of Shakespeare's sonnets to see how Shakespeare subtly incorporated the language of the law into beautiful poetic metaphor.
George Frisch is a retired securities lawyer and former associate professor of law with a lifelong interest in Shakespeare. He has taught one previous OLLI class about how Shakespeare created and used imagery
Tuesday, Feb. 5 from 1pm to 3pm in the San Luis Obispo Library Conference Room.
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San Luis Obispo Library Conference Room (View)
995 Palm St.
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
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