Shakespeare and Law is a reading of law and legal issues within the works of William Shakespeare. Mark Fortier argues that Shakespeare’s attitudes to law are complex and not always sanguine, that there exists a deep and perhaps ultimate rejection of law, an antinomian streak, very different from what a lawyer or legal scholar might espouse.
Fortier looks in detail at the legal issues most prominent across Shakespeare’s work: property, inheritance, status, identity theft, contract, marriage, tort (especially slander), evidence, crime, and political authority. He also includes three detailed case studies of The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, and Hamlet as well as a chapter looking at law in the work of Shakespeare’s contemporaries.
The book shows that the central issues of Shakespeare’s time are similar to those we have today, therefore the exploration of law in Shakespeare is as germane today as in the past.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Shakespeare in Law and Literature 2. General Patterns 3. Case Study: The Merchant of Venice 4. Case Study: Measure for Measure 5. Seven Short Readings of Non-Shakespearean Early-Modern Plays 6. Shakespeare and Law Now
Mark Fortier is a Professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph, Canada. He has published widely on Shakespeare and Theatre studies, including Adaptations of Shakespeare (2000), Theory/Theatre: An Introduction (third edition, 2016), and Literature and Law (2019).