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Shakespeare as a Way of Life$
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James Kuzner

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780823269938

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823269938.001.0001

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The Winter’s Tale Faith in Law and the Law of Faith

The Winter’s Tale Faith in Law and the Law of Faith

(p.80) Chapter 3 The Winter’s Tale Faith in Law and the Law of Faith
Shakespeare as a Way of Life

James Kuzner

Fordham University Press

The chapter considers the ethical consequences of epistemological weakness in The Winter’s Tale. The chapter does so by examining faith in the play, with focus on what sort of law most merits faithful submission. I trace Shakespeare’s inquiry into how Leontes can be king once he loses faith in himself and must instead rule with humility. When he does, Leontes must live not above law but under it; the question is which kind of law. Shakespeare explores two possible answers, ones also explored in Paul’s epistles, in Montaigne, and in radical theory’s recent impressions of Paul. Leontes’s first option is to submit to a law of works, to a system of injunctions and prohibitions. His other, quite different option is submission to a law of faith neither normative nor juridical. Shakespeare entertains both possibilities but sees greater virtue in the law of faith, in law that presumes—and asks that all subjects embrace—intense epistemological weakness.

Keywords:   Montaigne, Saint Paul, political theology, Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale

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