Foul is Fair: What Shakespeare Really Thought about Lawyers

Scribes Journal of Legal Writing, Vol. 5, p. 157, 1994-1995

Posted: 10 May 2007  

Judith D. Fischer

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

Abstract

This article discusses Shakespeare's views of lawyers. It explains the meaning and background behind William Shakespeare's famous quotation, "Let's kill all the lawyers." In the play Henry VI, two disreputable rebels, Dick and Cade, discuss overthrowing the king. The buffoonish Dick says, "First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." The line probably prompted a laugh from Shakespeare's audiences, but on another level, it conveys a serious message — one that compliments lawyers. Shakespeare is saying that those who want anarchy must first get rid of lawyers, who could effectively challenge them. The article also discusses Shakespeare's views of lawyers as evidenced in his personal life and in other characters, including Othello and Richard II. Review of Daniel J. Kornstein's book, Kill All the Lawyers? Shakespeare's Legal Appeal (1994).

Keywords: Lawyers, kill all the lawyers, Shakespeare, Henry VI, Dick, Cade, rebels, revolution, Othello, Richard II, Kornstein

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Fischer, Judith D., Foul is Fair: What Shakespeare Really Thought about Lawyers. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=984326

Judith D. Fischer (Contact Author)

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law ( email )

Wilson W. Wyatt Hall
Louisville, KY 40292
United States

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