English Literature KS3 / GCSE: Power in Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s plays represent many different kinds of power, and drama often occurs when power is abused.

In Macbeth we see the contrast between the benign royal power of King Duncan who rules his country well, and the ambition for personal power of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, who commit a series of murders in order to steal his crown and protect their position.

In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet's father abuses his power over his daughter, insisting she marry Paris or be disowned if she defies him.

In Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice is a powerful woman who refuses to bow to society's expectations that she will have an arranged marriage.

Although she is frustrated that she can't protect her cousin Hero's honour in combat like a man, when she does marry it is a husband that she has chosen herself for love.

This clip is from the series Shakespeare Themes.

Teacher Notes

This clip links to human chains of power, which can be related to modern poitical events, eg Trump vs Clinton in the US elections, or political, economic, media or celebrity power in the UK.

Students could debate the dangers of human power.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching English Literature at Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and 3rd Level and National 4/5 in Scotland.