Nonetheless, justices still invoke his works as though their legal concerns were unambiguous.Sometimes, they’ll cite Shakespeare to add rhetorical flair and finesse to a ruling, and sometimes to bolster a decision by referring to works that have cultural authority.
But it would be a mistake to equate it with Shakespeare’s sentiments more generally.
Shakespeare’s works are in fact unusually fascinated with the law, and raise practical, ethical, and social questions about people’s relationship to legal processes and culture.
King Lear, Richard II, and As You Like It explore and critique laws of property ownership and inheritance.
The Winter’s Tale, Macbeth, and the three Henry VI plays dramatize the era’s pervasive fear of treason. The early-20th-century law and literature movement incorporated history and fiction into the law school curriculum to help re-humanize the profession.
Shylock’s status makes him vulnerable to extremes of punishment not inflicted on citizens of Venice.
Though he is allowed to live, he is required to forfeit his goods and renounce his religion.
“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” So urges Shakespeare’s comic character Dick the Butcher, caught up in a revolution in Henry VI, Part II.
Four hundred years after Shakespeare’s death on April 23, 1616, this line is still quoted often.
Members of professional acting companies performed there.
Law students sometimes took roles alongside the professional actors.