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drama literature political ethics political theory politics Shakespeare

A Tainted Election? “Hamlet” and Politics

For roughly the first half of Hamlet, the audience is left in suspense as to whether or not Claudius, the present king, had in fact secretly murdered his predecessor, Prince Hamlet’s father. Then the prince devises and executes a plan to find out, and deems his suspicions confirmed; we in the audience get to be […]

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Arendt political ethics political theory Thoreau

Thoreau and the Tax-Collector

There’s a side of Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” that I believe is often misunderstood – or maybe just misremembered. We remember his refusal to pay the Massachusetts poll tax, even at the cost of going to jail.  But what is it that he hopes this act will accomplish, practically speaking?     Perhaps that question seems […]

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Adams (Henry) literature political ethics political novels politics

“Democracy” by Henry Adams

Henry Adams’s Democracy: An American Novel, was first published anonymously in 1880.  Its author never publicly acknowledged it as his work.  (It goes unmentioned in Adams’s autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams, published after his death in 1918).  One hundred thirty-five years later, it retains its hold on readers’  imagination, a classic of U.S. political fiction.  Just a few years ago, it was chosen […]