The Rule of Kings and the Rule of Law: Representations of Law and Power in 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' and 'A Man for All Seasons'

14 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009

Date Written: August 13, 2009

Abstract

The tension between the desires of the potentate and the 'immutable' nature of law is one that resonates in the human psyche because of the drama inherent in such a struggle. This theme gained in importance after the emergence of the modern state, which separated the notion of political authority from divine power and fundamentally altered the concept of the sovereign. This paper explores the Pearl Poet's 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight', and Bolt's 'A Man for All Seasons' - different plays authored in different times which, nonetheless, contain common elements such as the interplay between the power of kings and a higher legal authority that seeks to bind them. It is in that struggle that both plays derive a common source of drama, but articulate very different views of the relationship between power and law.

Keywords: law, literature, gawain, rule of law, sovereignty, Green Knight, A Man for All Seasons, drama, law

JEL Classification: K39, B30

Suggested Citation

Stigall, Dan E., The Rule of Kings and the Rule of Law: Representations of Law and Power in 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' and 'A Man for All Seasons' (August 13, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1448668 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1448668

Dan E. Stigall (Contact Author)

U.S. Department of Justice ( email )

United States

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