4th March 2018 At:

The Ethical Society of Northern Westchester

108 Pinesbridge Road, Ossining NY 10562. (914) 941-3544

Ethical Dilemmas in Shakespeare

The Shakespearean canon abounds with ethical quandaries. At a nation-state level whether to go to war and if it is right to do so. At a personal level how to achieve love, harmony, peace and self-realization.

Shakespeare and his world view is profoundly expansive. It takes in both formal monotheistic religion and polytheistic paganism, the plays reference the elevated concepts of justice, mercy, conscience, in stories which are both personal and universal. Shakespeare can be variously interpreted as a poet of world-changing technical ability, a devotional esotericist, a political researcher, and a humanist.

His work is all of these things and more, but none of them exclusively. His comic art is entertaining, the jokes still work 420 years later; his tragic art is entertaining in catharsis, the fatal flaws of his tragic heroes still show us our own shortcomings.

Finally perhaps, it is the Shakespearean ability to examine many sides of an argument which raises the issue of what it means to be human?