« When did Cornwall Die? | Main | Watch Out for Killer Plants! »

April 14, 2007

Sometimes You Just Need to Look at "Culture"

Zunder, "Shakespeare and the End of Feudalism..." -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

"...the text aligns itself, and seeks to align its audience, in favour of the traditional notion of a limited monarchy, and against the developing notion of royal absolutism" (519).

I have to admit I was a bit worried at the beginning when Zunder was talking about Shakespeare referencing the solar eclipse of 1605. I was thinking, is this the best evidence that he can find to prove that there is a parallel "between the action of the play...and the current times in which Shakespeare and his fellwo Londoners were living" (513)? But, as I read further into the essay I was very convinced by the argument that Zunder makes. I thought he did a great job of pointing out the things that show how the different characters represent different changing ideals at the time in British history. What I found really cool, is that Shakespeare was able to make such a statement about the state of the monarchy from limited to absolute and the shift away from feudalism using a plot derived very much from something that happened in history.

This whole essay also reminded me of Stephen Greenblatt's essay "Culture" that I have read for my literary criticism class. It seems to me a perfect example of one of Greenblatt's main points in the essay about how the exploration of a culture leads to a greater understanding of the work and the exploration of the literature leads to a greater understanding of the culture. Zunder's essay does seem to be doing both. By reading Hallie's blog, I recognized that a fellow student saw this usefulness in discovering details about the cultural and historic background of the text that Greenblatt is promoting. I also noticed as I read, that I learned that we can come up with ideas about the culture and opinions of certain people (like Shakespeare) through this alignment "against the developing notion of royal absolutism." So, it really can work both ways.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at April 14, 2007 12:24 AM


I agree that the time in which a work of literature was written definitely has to influence the writer of that work of literature. Sometimes writers might want to directly comment about the issues of the day, and sometimes they might just be indirectly influenced by the time and place they live in. Either way, no writer can work in a vacuum, and the effects of historical events and how they feel about these historical events are going to help shape what they choose to write about and how they choose to write it no matter what.

Posted by: Matt Henderson at April 14, 2007 3:32 PM

Post a comment

Remember Me?