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Wives and Troubled Husbands

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Lady Percy’s plea to Hotspur in Henry IV, Part 1, is similar to Portia’s plea to Brutus in Julius Caesar. In both a wife is pleading with her husband to disclose the thoughts that seem to trouble him deeply. A difference, however, is that some psychologists consider Lady Percy’s speech a clinical description of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
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Christians and Jews

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Despite the sarcasm, the audience as well as father Abram are led to consider Shylock’s exclamation:

–what these Christians are,
Whose own hard dealings teaches them suspect
The thoughts of others!

Shylock more than implies the old adage that it takes one to know one.
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Lyrical Violence

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The cruelty that characterizes Titus Andronicus is established in the first scene. Tamora’s cry, “O cruel, irreligious piety!” captures the style of what follows in this play – the juxtaposition of religious language, an idyllic setting and barbarity. In many passages the descriptions of horror are cast in lyrical or pastoral language, e.g. Aaron explaining to Tamora’s sons the setting appropriate for raping,
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Demons & Madness

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Passages with obscure references send scholars on treasure hunts in search of the influences on Shakespeare’s works. In King Lear, Act 3 Scene 6, one such hunt starts with the question, “Who were Frateretto and Hoppedance, or Purr the cat for that matter?” Turns out that in 1603, Samuel Harsnett, the Vicar of Chigwell, wrote a short tract titled, A Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures,
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The Sadness of the Merchant

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In the opening lines of The Merchant of Venice, the young merchant Antonio is questioned by his friends about his sadness. His friends Salarino, Solanio and Gratiano attempt to determine why Antonio is sad. Antonio denies that his sadness is about his concern for his investments in merchandise at sea. When asked if his melancholy is because he is in love,
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Learning by Living

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In Love’s Labors Lost, Armado’s exclamation about the boy’s “Sweet smoke of rhetoric” complements the boy’s previous remark about his “penny of observation.” These two metaphors capture Shakespeare’s genius, both to observe and to poetically express human nature. In Love’s Labor’s Lost, the country boy, not the nobility, possesses these qualities.
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Blood and Humanity

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In the Merchant of Venice, the Prince of Morocco’s “And let us make incision for your love To prove whose blood is reddest, his or mine,” introduces the theme of superficial differences masking intrinsic similarities, the most intrinsic being that we share a common humanity. It foreshadows Shylock’s “If you prick us, do we not bleed” 
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Pandering, Contempt and the Masses

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Many of Shakespeare’s plays deal with political intrigue at court between political leaders. However, in Julius Caesar and Coriolanus, more than in other plays, the themes address the relationships between political leaders and the masses. Since both plays are set in historic Rome and not in Shakespeare’s England, they can deal with the themes of democracy and the wisdom of the populace to govern themselves through a republican form of representation.
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Income Inequality

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In Coriolanus,  Menenius Agrippa extemporizes on an ancient version of modern day trickle-down economics. In his extended metaphor, Menenius compares the digestive and circulatory systems of the body to the economics of upper-class Romans massing wealth and food for their benefit, which he claims eventually circulates out to the masses for their benefit. The hungry poor are more persuaded by their empty stomachs than by Menenius’s intellectual reasoning and promises.
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Town and Country

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In Cymbeline, Belarius advises his two adoptive sons to embrace the idyllic life in the country rather than the political life at court:

“O, this life
Is nobler than attending for a check;
Richer than doing nothing for a bable;
Prouder than rustling in unpaid-for silk:
Such gain the cap of him that makes him fine,
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