The Political Misuse of Shakespeare
Shakespeare can be used to support conservatism. Ulysses’ speech in defence of order (Troilus and Cressida, I.iii.109-10) has often been quoted by Tory politicians as if Shakespeare were endorsing it.
TAKE BUT DEGREE AWAY, UNTUNE THAT STRING, AND HARK WHAT DISCORD FOLLOWS. BUT THAT SPEECH IS IN THE MOUTH OF A CHARACTER WHO IS BY TURNS CALCULATING, SARDONIC AND TRIFLING.
Shakespeare can also be used to defend forces of repression. In Communist Eastern Europe, Shakespeare was taught as an instrument of Marxist dogma.
HE IS FREQUENTLY ALLUDED TO IN MARX’S WRITING … MARX QUOTES FROM TIMON OF ATHENS AND CONCLUDES … SHAKESPEARE PORTRAYS THE ESSENCE OF MONEY EXCELLENTLY.
Shakespeare can also be used — and has been used — by other social groups and indeed in radical politics — most obviously in his time by Essex’s rebels sponsoring a performance of Richard II to justify their revolt against Elizabeth I.