Free Thinkers and Divine Monarchs-How Do They Get Along?

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“Political thinkers in both England and Spain follow the rhetoric and the arguments of anti-Machiavellian thought throughout Europe.  They are eager to restate and reiterate the point from which Botero’s thinking departs: that God controls the unfolding of history through providence, and will surely humble any ruler who defies the ethics that He has bestowed upon humanity.”

-From Stephen Rupp’s “Reason of State and Repetition in The Tempest and La vida es sueño in Comparative Literature’s Fall 1990 Vol. 42.4 publication, pages 293-294


I really enjoyed this comparison of Shakespeare and Calderón’s plays.  I actually did not see this connection in them until I read Rupp’s essay, but it is very true: both authors seem, on one hand, to write plays that can be discussed by the intellectuals of their day.  both countries were run by kings and governments who believed in the divine rights of the kings, but they were also peopled by those who believed in the divine rights of the people.  In both plays, this conflict can be viewed.  In The Tempest, Prospero, Sebastian, Antonio, are all vying for power in some form or another, when the real divinely chosen ruler is Prospero.  Also, Prospero has taken over Caliban who was technically given rule by divine right as well.  Similarly, in La vida es sueño, Segismundo, Astolfo, and Estrella are all vying for power, when Segismundo has the divine right.


However, at the end of both plays, those with divine right (Prospero, Caliban, and Segismundo) are given this right.  This fact would certainly provide forward thinkers with something to dispute. 


The second part of the above quote is also true, when Prospero and Segismundo, if not also Caliban, regain control of their rights to rule, they are peaceful, firm, and just rulers, not the overbearing rulers they started out as.  Perhaps this fact would settle the opinions of the free thinkers of the playwrights time periods.


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