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King John Summary
William Shakespeare

Everything you need to understand or teach King John by William Shakespeare.

  • King John Summary & Study Guide
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King John Summary


Many elements of the struggle for political power in thirteenth-century England are universal. They can be found in the history of every country in the world. Shifting alliances within factions and political backstabbing—as when Philip and Lewis desert Arthur's cause in exchange for Blanch's dowry, or when the English nobles desert John and then rush back to him upon learning that Lewis means to kill them—are not uncommon in many nations, even today. The cynicism about national leaders expressed by the Bastard in his second major soliloquy (II.i.561-98) resembles the alienation from politics felt by many people in modern times. And when the Bastard describes the weakened John as a bold leader, a "gallant monarch," and a fierce warrior (V.ii.127-58 and 173-78), his words recall those of a political image maker, trying to present a candidate in the most favorable light.

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King John Study Guide

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