Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
Defending Established Institutions in Changing Times:
How not to do it.
“Come writers and critics, who prophesize with your pen.”
The Times They Are A-changing. Bob Dylan.
Prologue: Friends, Nobles and Englishmen, Lend Me Your Ears.
“You say you want a revolution?” Revolution. The Beatles.
Shakespeare did not want a revolution. He wanted, instead, to give peace a chance. Most of his plays reflect a nervous man living in a nerve-wracking time. And although they often portray his dissatisfaction with much that went on around him, they also reflect caution in what he thought could safely be done to make things better. Political and religious revolutions had wracked England for most of the sixteenth century. Julius Caesar, written in 1599, reflects Shakespeare’s fear of more of that.
Shakespeare could be described politically as what we might today call a pragmatist and a reformer rather than a revolutionary. He could be considered liberal in the original sense of that term, that is, as someone who is generous, because he often portrayed the poor, the downtrodden, women, servants, and outcasts in sympathetic ways and their oppressors in harsh terms. But he could also be considered conservative in the original sense of that term as someone who wanted to preserve established institutions rather than replace them. Shakespeare’s overriding concern seemed to be that the unintended consequences of a well-intentioned revolution could end up making things worse rather than better. Julius Caesar exemplifies that concern.
Every period of history can probably be described as a time of turmoil and change, when old ways were failing and new ways were struggling into existence. When people describe their own time, they are especially prone to describing things in this way. And they almost always think of their own time as particularly perilous in comparison with past times that they retrospectively view as tranquil and settled. Shakespeare was like most people in thinking his own era perilous and, in fact, he lived at a particularly tumultuous time in English history. But, unlike most people, Shakespeare did not portray his era as uniquely the worst of all possible worlds. He seemed, instead, interested in finding parallels to his own time in past ages and then portraying those past times as exemplary lessons for his own. His Julius Caesar is an example.
Julius Caesar is a psychological-political thriller. A group of Roman patricians hope to save their republican form of government by conspiring to kill Julius Caesar, who seemingly aspires to be king. Caesar is a very popular and victorious general, and although the conspirators admit he has hitherto been a reasonable man, they fear what ambition may lead him to become. Brutus, their leader, rationalizes that they must “think him [Caesar] as a serpent’s egg, which, hatched, would, as his kind, grow mischievous, and kill him in the shell.” Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 33-36. The conspirators envision their action as a preemptive revolution against a potential tyrant. But Brutus isn’t sure, and the many halting breaks in his speech – all those commas – reflect his ambivalence and his need to reassure himself as to what they are doing.
Although their goal is to save the Republic, the conspirators ignore the established republican institutions for dealing with political problems – the Consuls and Patrician Senate, the Tribunes and Citizen Assembly – and resort instead to assassination. They think they will be hailed as “The men that gave their country liberty.” Act 3, Scene 1, Line 133. But Caesar’s murder triggers a civil war between the friends and foes of the dead man. The partisans “let slip the dogs of war,” as each party tries militarily to impose its will on the other, both relying on what are essentially private armies. Act 3, Scene 1, Line 299. There is nothing republican about that.
The play ends with the civil war still ongoing but Shakespeare’s audience knew and we today know from history that the outcome was a Roman government dominated by an emperor, the very sort of evil that the conspirators had hoped to avoid. In short, an attempted preemptive revolution to restore Rome’s republican roots turns against itself and becomes a counterrevolution that uproots the Republic and implants an imperial dictator.
Julius Caesar is a powerful psychological drama. The emotional twists and turns of the main characters, their reasonings and rationalizations, accusations and defensiveness, are riveting. The play has been criticized as too full of speechifying and it can, in fact, be performed as a series of boring declamations. But the speeches can also be emotionally and intellectually compelling, and the play can be a vehicle for great acting. Mark Antony’s famous funeral oration for Caesar – “Friends, Romans and Countrymen, lend me your ears”– is only one among a dozen examples of speeches that can make for brilliant theater. Act 3, Scene 2, Line 82 et seq.
Likewise, the political maneuvering of the conspirators is riveting. The ways and means with which they convince each other that what they are doing is right, and then convince others to join them, constitute a first-rate lesson in high-stakes politicking, political manipulation, and powerful demagoguery. Many of these speeches, especially those of Brutus’ co-conspirator Cassius and Caesar’s ally Mark Antony, are diabolically clever. The devious Cassius has most of the best lines in the play, including the famous line “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings” when he is trying to manipulate Brutus into joining the conspiracy to kill Caesar. A great line for a vile purpose. Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 145-146.
The action in the play is mainly moved by poseurs trying to manipulate each other and the citizenry. Caesar pretends he does not want to be king when he really does. Cassius pretends he is most interested in saving the Republic when his primary interests seem to be pecuniary. Antony pretends to respect Brutus in his funeral speech for Caesar and his funereal speech after Brutus’ death, in both of which he praises Brutus as an honorable man while actually seeking Brutus’ death in the former speech and celebrating Brutus’ death in the latter. Act 5, Scene 5, Lines 74-81.
The play is full of drama, melodrama, riveting lines, and complex personalities. As a political thriller it gets our attention. As a psychodrama, it triggers our empathy and antipathy for various characters. Most interpreters focus on the psychological turmoil of Brutus, which is excruciating – Caesar and he had been close friends – and many see the play as a melodrama about friendship and betrayal. Other critics debate whether the play is or is not a tragedy, and whether Brutus is a fool or a tragic hero. Many interpreters see the play as reflecting anxiety that England might descend into civil war when the childless Queen Elizabeth died without an heir. But they describe the politics in the play and in Shakespeare’s England in terms of personal power trips, and not in institutional terms. While I think all of these interpretations have merit, I think Shakespeare’s concerns run further.
I think the play has an institutional underpinning that is often unrecognized and underplayed. Although personalities and personal conflicts take center stage, the backdrop of the play is the failure of established institutions and the failure of the parties to support them. The underlying message of the play spoke to institutional concerns of Shakespeare’s audience that went beyond personalities and power trips. The speeches and actions of the main characters reflect important debates about governmental institutions and social norms that had taken place in ancient Rome but that were also taking place in Shakespeare’s England.
Shakespeare intended, I believe, to illustrate what he saw as the disastrous consequences of neglecting established institutions and ignoring established social norms in attempting to cope with social problems in changing times. And the moral of Julius Caesar is that attempted revolutions, whatever the merits of their motives, and whether they are from what we would call the political left or the right, often promote the evils they were intended to forestall. It was a warning to Shakespeare’s contemporaries that still resonates with us today.
Changing Times: Shakespeare Does the Rise and Fall of the Roman Republic.
“One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes a revolution in order to establish a dictatorship.” George Orwell.
Shakespeare had a recurring interest in the history of the Roman Republic. He wrote one play about the rise of the Republic, Coriolanus, and two plays about its fall, Julius Caesar and Anthony and Cleopatra. In each of these plays, he focused on the precariousness of Rome’s republican institutions and their susceptibility to demagogues who threatened to establish autocratic dictatorships. In so doing, he was not demonstrating a bias against republics. In fact, Shakespeare wrote many plays that emphasize the susceptibility of not only republics but also monarchical regimes to becoming tyrannies, including Hamlet, Macbeth and most of his English history plays. He also authored several plays that take place in relatively stable Italian republics.
A key difference between the stable and unstable regimes in Shakespeare’s plays seems to be whether they are primarily commercial societies, like the medieval Italian city-states, or primarily military regimes. The Roman Republic lived in large part on the spoils of wars of conquest and on tribute from conquered territories, making it particularly susceptible to potential military takeovers — the subject of Coriolanus which takes place at the beginning of the Republic and Julius Caesar at the end. Shakespeare seemed to be sending a message that peaceful commercial development would be better for England than military conquest.
Julius Caesar is set in the mid-first century BCE in the midst of an extreme institutional crisis of the Roman Republic. The Republic had been established in the sixth century BCE when the last of the Roman kings was overthrown in a revolt led by a distant ancestor of Brutus. At that time, the Senate, which had been merely an advisory body of aristocrats to the king, became a focal point of the new government. Instead of a king, the executive powers of the government were placed in the hands of two Consuls who were chosen by the Senate with the assent of a general assembly of Roman citizens. Each Consul could veto the actions of the other, thereby avoiding the possibility of a dictatorship. The Senate also generally proposed legislation, but it had to be approved by the citizen assembly. In turn, the assembly elected two Tribunes who represented the interests of ordinary citizens in negotiations with the Consuls and the Senate. It was a mixed government that ostensibly balanced the interests of all Roman citizens.
The Republic was a government of Rome’s citizens but it must be noted that most of Rome’s residents were not citizens. Roman society was based on the institution of slavery. Slaves made up some thirty to forty percent of the Roman populace, and slaves did almost all of the agricultural, industrial and other menial work. Subtracting the slaves and the substantial number of resident foreigners from the total population, citizens made up less than half the populace of Rome. Citizens were, in turn, divided between wealthy aristocratic patricians who were represented in the Senate and lower-class plebeians represented by the Tribunes.
Plebeians were sometimes hard-up and needed government welfare support, but it must be emphasized that the plebeian assembly was made up of independent citizens and not menial slaves or serfs. I think this could be a reason Shakespeare sometimes portrays crowds of citizens in Ancient Rome with some respect as compared with the disrespect he generally shows to mobs of landless peasants and menial workers in his plays about medieval England.
Julius Caesar portrays a major turning point in Roman history and the history of the Western World. The Republic, which had functioned for some five hundred years, was tottering. The previous hundred years had been punctuated by conflicts, sometimes very violent, between the patricians and the plebeians. Concerns with instability and public corruption were widespread.
In 44 BCE, Julius Caesar returned to Rome as a conquering military hero who had significantly expanded the sway of Rome in Europe and added to Rome’s coffers. He represented the sort of strong leader who might restore Rome to law and order, and he seemed to aspire to turn the clock back to times before the Republic by becoming the King of Rome. At a mass meeting of citizens, Caesar is playfully offered a pretend crown by his ally Mark Antony. This game between them appears to be a trial balloon to see if citizens might approve the real thing. But their balloon is deflated when Caesar, to his dismay, is applauded by the crowd when he declines to put on the fake crown. Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 225-275.
But the game is not over, and Brutus and other patricians fear that Caesar may eventually accept a real crown with the approval of the citizen assembly. Instigated by Cassius, a corrupt associate of Brutus, Brutus organizes a conspiracy to murder Caesar in the hope of saving the Republic. The conspirators do not consult with the Consuls, the Senate or the Tribunes. And they do not follow up on what appears to be the rejection of a kingship by the plebeian citizens when they applauded Caesar’s refusal of the fake crown
This essentially describes the history out of which Shakespeare constructed his play and with which he assumed his audience was familiar. Roman history was standard fare in the educational system of his time, and much of his audience would have been familiar with the politics of Ancient Rome. That is why Shakespeare was able to place several of his plays in ancient Rome – Anthony and Cleopatra, Titus Andronicus, and Coriolanus in addition to Julius Caesar. He set the actions of his protagonists in Julius Caesar within an institutional context which he expected his audience to understand.
Given this context, a key to Shakespeare’s message in the play is that the conspirators do not work through established republican institutions – the Consuls, the Senate, the Tribunes – and fail to adhere to longstanding republican norms in their effort to save the Republic. I think Shakespeare expected his audience to notice this, and to understand that the conspirators’ failure to respect established institutions and norms contributed significantly to their failure. Acting on their own noble initiative, with Cassius spurring Brutus on by repeatedly referring to the heroic actions of Brutus’ sixth-century ancestor, the conspirators chose means to save the Republic that only precipitated the very result they had hoped to avoid. In killing Caesar, they essentially murdered the Republic and made way for a dictatorial emperor to take power.
Changing Times: Shakespeare and the Transition from Medieval to Modern Society.
“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery.” Mao Zedong.
Shakespeare wrote Julius Caesar in the late seventeenth century in the midst of significant institutional crises in England. Shakespeare lived at a time recognized by him his contemporaries to be full of major social turmoil and institutional changes, changes that historians today characterize as the transition from the traditional society of the Middle Ages to a more dynamic modern society. Feudalism was in its last throes, capitalism was in its thriving infancy. A relatively cohesive society based on personal relations and local norms was being replaced by a more chaotic society based on competitive relations and impersonal contracts. Money was increasingly becoming the measure of all things. There was greater freedom but less communality and seemingly more cold calculation.
Shakespeare lived through a period of relative calm in between the storms of the first half of the sixteenth century and the last half of the seventeenth. When he wrote Julius Caesar, Queen Elizabeth I had been on the throne for some forty years. But Shakespeare was a child of the turmoil of previous generations. In the twenty years prior to Elizabeth’s ascension in 1558, three monarchs had been overthrown, one of whom had been beheaded. In the forty years before Elizabeth’s ascension, England had been forcefully converted and reconverted from Catholicism to Protestantism, back to Catholicism and then back to Protestantism, with much violence and many executions in the process. Religious animosity between Catholics and Protestants in England, and wars between Protestant England and Catholic countries, was continuous throughout Elizabeth’s reign and Shakespeare’s life, and religious animosity figures in many of his plays. If you see a Catholic priest in a Shakespeare play, you can predict he is up to no good.
Queen Elizabeth’s rule was also fraught with many plots against her by would-be strong-armed leaders, including two attempts to overthrow her by Mary Queen of Scots and Mary’s various male allies; two attempts by the Spanish King and his armadas; four plots to overthrow her by Robert Ridolfi, Francis Throckmorton, Anthony Babington, and Roderigo Lopez; and, the Essex Rebellion against her led by Robert Devereux. During her reign, Elizabeth also battled with Parliament, which had been not much more than a rubber stamp of the Kings’ actions before her time, but became increasingly assertive against Elizabeth and insisted on concessions in exchange for voting her the funds she needed to govern.
Meanwhile, during Elizabeth’s reign, English landowners were increasingly displacing peasant farmers from their land in favor of raising sheep for wool. This Enclosure Movement was causing havoc in the countryside, with homeless peasants wandering about looking for work, begging for food, and committing crimes to survive. Medieval serfdom had tied the peasants to the land so that they were not free to leave, but it also prohibited the lords of the lands from displacing them. With the end of feudalism and serfdom with it, peasants were free to leave the land and landlords were free to push them off. This was the mob that Shakespeare feared.
Elizabeth’s reign was, thus, full of plots, subplots, and perils. And Shakespeare’s plays, particularly Julius Caesar, were reactions against this institutional instability. Shakespeare seems to fear that what happened to Rome could happen to England, and he does not want that.
Shakespeare on Social Change: Respect and Reconciliation over Revenge and Revolution.
“Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.” Won’t Get Fooled Again. The Who.
Most of Shakespeare’s plays reflect an ambivalence about the dramatic social changes that were taking place in England, and a concern with the problems that arise when established institutions and norms fail. His plays focus on institutional turmoil, and many have either unhappy endings or only superficially happy endings. He repeatedly wrote about decent rulers being deposed by usurpers who then wreak havoc. While part of Shakespeare’s motive in writing so much about turmoil may be that turmoil is more interesting in a play than peace and tranquility, the plays also seem to reflect deep concerns of Shakespeare and his audience.
These concerns are particularly evident in Shakespeare’s history plays that cover roughly the period in English history from the early 1200’s to the mid 1500’s, that is, from what we can date as the beginnings of the end of feudalism to the beginnings of the rise of modern capitalism. These plays focus on the tumultuous rising and falling of kings, and the failure of established feudal and religious institutions and norms to prevent violence and ensure social stability.
Henry IV, for example, deals with the consequences of Henry’s usurpation of the English throne from Richard II. Likewise, Richard III deals with Richard’s usurpation of the throne from his brother’s rightful heirs. Both plays devolve into civil wars and death all around. They are not happy tales of English history. Coup after coup, violent revolt after violent revolt, English history as portrayed in Shakespeare’s plays was a hellish mess. These same concerns are evident in most of his other plays.
In Macbeth, for example, the problem is that Macbeth not only violates his feudal oath and duties to his king, he also violates the Sixth Commandment against murder when he kills the king, and violates the even more ancient and universal rules of hospitality: Thou shalt not kill your guests. The play resounds with the breakdown of moral and political norms and institutions. This breakdown is seemingly the witches’ satanic goal, to create a lawless situation of each against each and all against all, a hell on earth. And they succeed. The ability of satanic characters to wreak havoc concerned Shakespeare in Macbeth and other plays.
In Hamlet, younger brother Claudius kills his older brother and usurps the Danish throne over his brother’s rightful heir, Hamlet. Hamlet is goaded into revenge by what I interpret as a satanic ghost. Revenge does not generally turn out well in Shakespeare’s plays and usually redounds onto the perpetrator. The result in Hamlet is death all around and the conquest of Denmark by the Norwegians, not a happy outcome for the country.
Even Shakespeare’s comedies reflect concerns about legitimate rulers being overthrown and institutional norms being flouted, for example, in As You Like It, which was written at about the same time as Julius Caesar, and in Shakespeare’s last major play The Tempest. In As You Like It, younger brother Frederick usurps the throne of his older brother Duke Senior, who escapes with his retinue to live in a forest. In The Tempest, younger brother Antonio usurps the throne of Milan from older brother Prospero, who escapes to a deserted island with his daughter.
In both plays the usurpers come to see the errors of their ways, everyone is reconciled, and the older brothers are restored to their rightful places through implausible plot contrivances. These plays have happy endings, and a happy ending is one of the things that generally distinguishes a comedy from a tragedy. But the plays are still troubling when you contrast the realism of the usurpations with the unreality of the restorations. And I think we are expected to realize this.
Shakespeare was clearly worried. Most of his plays, both the fictional and the ostensibly factual, focus on the disorder and death that arise from a disrespect of established institutions and institutional norms, especially as to the succession of rulers. Julius Caesar highlights the problems that worried Shakespeare since both sides of the dispute in that play – Caesar and his heirs Antony and Octavius on the one hand, and Brutus and his allies on the other – eschew established institutions and orderly procedure for violence and war. Both Caesar’s portended revolution and Brutus’ preemptive counterrevolution violate republican norms and procedures, as does the civil war that follows. The cure is, in this case, at least as bad as the disease.
The Tendency for Revolutionaries to go too far, and for Revolutions to go not far enough.
“Revolutions have never lightened the burden of tyranny; they have only shifted it to another shoulder.” George Bernard Shaw.
Shakespeare was not a troglodyte. Conservative in his respect for established institutions and the Establishment, he was liberal in his compassion toward the downtrodden and was generally opposed to war. In As You Like It, for example, he favors women’s rights. In Twelfth Night, he opposes the mistreatment of servants. In Coriolanus, he is sympathetic to the plight of the lower classes. In The Merchant of Venice, he opposes antisemitism. In Henry V, he unfavorably portrays the causes and effects of war. Shakespeare has more bad rulers in his plays than good. But he repeatedly favors due process and reconciliation over revolution or revenge. So, Shakespeare could be considered a reformer who wants a better world, but also wants to protect established institutions for fear of the chaos and violence that attends revolution. And this is what we see in Julius Caesar.
Shakespeare gives us an indication of the way he might recommend handling someone like Caesar in the opening of the play. The play opens with the two Roman Tribunes chastising a group of citizens for not being at work and for flocking to support Caesar when they had previously adored a general named Pompey. The Tribunes fear that the citizens are fickle, supporting whoever is the latest military hero, and they are concerned that the Citizens Assembly might support an attempt by Caesar to seize power. The Tribunes determine to clip the wings of Caesar, “Who else would soar above the view of men and keep us all in servile fearfulness.” Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 79-80. They try to stir up public opinion against Caesar’s seizing power, and their efforts seem to have had success when the citizens subsequently applaud Caesar’s refusal of the crown offered by Antony. The problem is that Brutus and his allies, instead of building on this popular success and institutional foundation, decide to eschew institutional processes for unilateral assassination.
Julius Caesar is a play about preemptive actions and overreactions. The Tribunes open the play with an emotional reaction to the adoration of Caesar by a group of citizens. The Tribunes fear the masses will support Caesar’s apparent ambition to be king. But Tribunes take action to diminish Caesar’s popular appeal, and the citizens don’t support his taking the crown. Brutus also fears Caesar’s ambition and worries about Caesar’s popularity, but Brutus overreacts in thinking that assassination is the only way to stop Caesar. Instead of relying on institutional mechanisms, he bypasses them and undermines his own goal. Later in the play, Brutus and Cassius overreact and almost come to blows when each criticizes the other about who is to blame for their perilous situation. Cassius then overreacts and commits suicide when he thinks his comrade Messala has been captured by enemy troops, which he hasn’t. Finally, Brutus kills himself when he thinks all is lost, but it really isn’t.
Julius Caesar is also a play about revolutionaries going both too far and not far enough. Brutus goes too far in eschewing established institutions in an effort to save them but he goes not far enough when he refuses Cassius’ advice to kill Antony along with Caesar. Act 2, Scene 1, Lines 170-195. Brutus’ soft-heartedness is his downfall since it is Antony’s funeral oration for Caesar that turns the citizenry against Brutus and the other assassins, and that provokes the civil war that ends with an imperial regime.
Caesar’s avengers Octavius and Antony are not so soft-hearted and they kill all who oppose them, including friends and family members. Act 4, Scene 1, Lines 1-4. They also take extreme actions against the Republic that Caesar would likely never have done, decimating the Senate and “put[ting] to death an hundred senators.” Act 4, Scene 3, Line 201. We know today and Shakespeare’s audience also knew that no sooner have Octavius and Antony dispatched Brutus’ allies than they turn on each other and fight for power. We also know that Antony will commit suicide after his army is defeated by that of Octavius, and that Octavius will become the first Roman emperor, renaming himself Augustus to match his august position. Finally, we know that while the institutions of the Republic were formally retained by Augustus (Octavius), they were hollow shells that existed only to support his rule. In sum, the actions of the revolutionaries and counterrevolutionaries in Julius Caesar were a bloody mess that wrecked the Republic.
I don’t think that these institutional causes and consequences are sufficiently played in most productions of Julius Caesar. As a means of emphasizing the underlying institutional concerns of Shakespeare in this play and the consequences of the characters’ actions, I would suggest staging the play with groups of people congregating upstage who represent the two Consuls, the two Tribunes, the Senators, and the Citizens. The actors representing these republican institutions could step downstage as they appear as characters in the play, and then return to their institutional places when their scenes are over. The actors could also pantomime reactions to events as the action affects their respective institutions. Brutus’ allies and the various Senators killed by Octavius and Antony could also be seen being murdered.
As the play ends, Antony says nice things about the dead Brutus, beginning with “This was the noblest Roman of them all” and ending with a claim that Brutus’ virtues were so great that “nature might stand up and say to all the world ‘This was a man.’” Octavius concurs and finishes the play with “let’s away to part the glories of this happy day.” Act 5, Scene 5, Lines 74-81, 87-88. These lines are generally played as though Antony and Octavius are sincerely mourning Brutus. I suggest that, to the contrary, Antony’s tone when saying these things be haughty and insincere, and likewise with Octavius who is more interested in starting to party than in mourning Brutus. Also, as soon as Antony and Octavius have finished speaking, each should give the other an evil look, as though they are sizing each other up for the next round of battling.
Finally, I suggest that Octavius, who will soon be Emperor Augustus, assert himself to the front of the stage as he leaves, and then turn to look imperiously downstage at the players representing the republican institutions. I would then have those players bow and bend their knees to him, as if to say so ends Julius Caesar and also the Roman Republic.
 Stephen J. Gould. “Losing the Edge” in The Flamingo’s Smile. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1985. pp.216-217.
 Mark Van Doren. Shakespeare. New York: New York Review Book, 1939. p.153.
 John Simon. “Will in the Middle.” Review of Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar by Garry Wills. New York Times Sunday Book Review. 11/25/11
 It’s a tragedy: Harold Goddard. The Meaning of Shakespeare. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1952. p.307.
It’s not a tragedy: Mark Van Doren. Shakespeare. New York: New York Review Book, 1939. pp.157-158.
 Maria Wyke. Cited in “Julius Caesar (Play).” Wikipedia. 11/9/18.
 Coppelia Kahn. “Julius Caesar: A Modern Perspective.” Postscript to Julius Caesar. New York: Washington Square Press, 1992. pp.215-217.
 This is discussed in my blog post “Better Dead than Red: Hamlet and the Cold War against Catholicism in Elizabethan England.” historyaschoice.wordpress.com
 This is discussed in my blog post “The Taming of a Schlemozzle: As You Like It as you like it.”
 This is discussed in my blog post “Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, or As You Will. A Masquerade of Fools, Fooling and Con(wo)men.”
 This is discussed in my blog post “From Phallus to Phalanx. Is Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Coriolanus actually a Comedy? The End of a Heroic Age.”
 This is discussed in my blog post “Shakespeare, Shylock and The Merchant of Venice: Protestants, Catholics and the Jewish Question in Elizabethan England”