Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Being and Having in Shakespeare$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Katharine Eisaman Maus

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199698004

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199698004.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 January 2022

Vagabond Kings: Entitlement and Distribution in 2 Henry VI and King Lear

Vagabond Kings: Entitlement and Distribution in 2 Henry VI and King Lear

(p.99) 5 Vagabond Kings: Entitlement and Distribution in 2 Henry VI and King Lear
Being and Having in Shakespeare

Katharine Eisaman Maus

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the figure of the royal or noble ‘vagabond,’ theoretically entitled but actually dispossessed, a figure that in some Shakespeare plays becomes a conduit for questions about property relations and social organization. In 2 Henry VI, each side to the conflict over the throne construes itself as a ‘rightful owner’ and its opponent as a ‘pirate’ or ‘vagabond’; but the rightful owner is continually in danger of displacement into the ‘vagabond’ position, at which point he must become a pirate himself. The effect is to construe the pirate and the proprietor, the landowner and the vagrant, as both contraries and as replicas of one another. In the episodes of the Cade rebellion this effect is further intensified and developed, raising questions about the origins and social desirability of the institutions of private property. King Lear revisits some of the same issues, not merely to reprise the critique of property in the earlier play, but to suggest an even more radical conclusion. Indeed the effect of Lear’s wholesale, apocalyptic disjointings is to complicate, almost to the extent of annihilating, the powerful connections between property, power, and entitlement as they have been asserted in many of Shakespeare’s other plays.

Keywords:   1 Henry VI, Cade rebellion, King Lear, sovereignty, vagabond, distributive justice

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .