Richard The Second Critical Analysis

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Followed by a Body Shadow: Richard the Second, by William Shakespeare The play, Richard the Second, by William Shakespeare, published in 1595, suggests an interpretation of the value and essence of kingship. According to Kantorowicz, kings have two bodies, the body political and the body natural, which allow him to exist on both a physical and a metaphysical level, and thus maintain a duality. In this essay I will argue that the king has in fact three bodies, which can resolve different paradoxes that derive from the duality of the two bodies. According to Kantorowicz, the king is divided into two parts, where one is the body political and the second is the body natural. The characteristics of the body natural are what we can identify a human being with; humans are subjective, experience through their senses, and are ephemeral. The body political on the other hand, characterizes everything a human being is not, but instead what people define in God; absolute, perfect, all knowing, divine, powerful, and eternal. Rudolf Otto defines in his essay, “The Idea of the Holy”, the religious experience as the numinous- the moment in which God is experienced by a person. One of the significant feelings born out of that moment is the “awe”- a sense which not only creates terror and fear, but also excitement. It also brings to life a sense of humbleness in a person, since he recognizes that ultimately he will cease to exist, and thus he is small and insignificant in contrast to the
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