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The King Within

Reformations of Power in Shakespeare and Calderón

Anita Howard

This book contrasts the portrayal of kings and kingship in the drama of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) and the Spanish playwright Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600-81), concentrating on the ways in which both dramatists use the individual complexities of their kingly characters to address the intellectual and moral dilemmas of the ideological backgrounds that helped to create them. Against the background of seventeenth-century Europe, when religious and political reformation was leading to reconstructions of concepts of authority and personal and national identity, these two dramatists of early modern England and Spain use the increasingly theatrical facades of absolutist power to explore the internal drama of individual psychology and the kinship of flawed humanity.