Scorn Not the Sonnet: In Search of Shakespeare's Law
60 Pages Posted: 15 May 2010 Last revised: 17 Jul 2013
Date Written: May 11, 2010
Legal scholars love to use Shakespeare’s works as stimuli and even models for legal analysis. We write about King Lear or Measure for Measure or The Merchant of Venice but rarely about the Sonnets. Why is that? Perhaps we find the poems too obscure. Or too insipid. (One of Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets – the “Fortune and men’s eyes” one – seems at first glance to say nothing more than “When I’m feeling depressed, I think about you, and that cheers me up.”) In this article, I examine three of Shakespeare’s sonnets and illustrate how a legal scholar or law professor might use these poems as scholarly or pedagogical vehicles. These illustrations will not discuss legal issues to a point of conclusion but will simply present some legal issues as analytic opportunities offered by a close reading of the Sonnets.
Keywords: Shakespeare, Law and Poetry, Law and Literature, Language, Legal Ethics, Law and Sexuality, Jurisprudence, Politics, Ideology
JEL Classification: K10, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation