Influence of Stoicism on William Shakespeare: His Background Reading and How It Shaped His Portrayal of Characters

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A unique examination of Shakespeare’s different plays to prove the relevance of stoic philosophy, in the themes, ideas, and images that play out in his body of work. Contemporary interpreters of Shakespeare have ignored these primary philosophical sources of Renaissance thought that influenced the fundamental moral principles and thinking of his time.


“Perhaps the most important contribution to scholarship that Schneider’s monograph makes, therefore, is to redress the paucity of documented evidence on the influence of Stoicism to the thinking and morality of Renaissance writers and artists.”
-Professor David Buehrer,
Valdosta State University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
-Renaissance Stoicism
-Why the Stoics?
-Because Stoicism Works in the Understanding of Shakespeare
-Seneca’s De Benificiis
-Sydney’s Arcadia
-Spencer’s Fairie Queene
-Baskilikon Doron
-Aristotle’s Poetics
-The Stoicism of Shakespeare
Chapter 1: Merchant of Venice: Shylock’s Trick
-Moral Philosophy in Kelso
-Gentlemen and Friendship
-Casket Test
Chapter 2: Henry IV, Parts I and II:
-Education of a Prince
-Virtue of Affability
-Hal’s Detachment
-Falstaff and Discord
-King as a Fountain of Justice
-Hotspur and False Honor
-Hal: True Honor
-Hal’s Redemption
Chapter 3: How to Be a Good King
-Marriage Proposal
Chapter 4: Hamlet: Procrastination
-Hamlet’s Missed Opportunities
-Hamlet’s Stoicism
Chapter 5: Troilus and Cressida: An Anomaly
-Moral Philosophy and Honor
Chapter 6: Measure for Measure: Government
-Moral Philosophy and Honor Chapter 7: Othello: A Tragedy of Errors
Chapter 8: King Lear: Cordelia’s Function
-Plain Dealing
-Gloucester Compared with Lear
Chapter 9: Macbeth: The Fate of a Tyrant
-The Witches
-A Tyrant Has No Honor
-The Forces of good government
Chapter 10: Winter’s Tale: Redemption
Chapter 11: The Tempest: A Comic King Lear
-Counterforces to Withdrawal
-Propsero’s Farewell to his Art
Index to Ruth Kelso’s Bibliography

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