Chapter 13

It's All Political

Ali Gaskins


~Generally Happy

What is the text about? Why do we have to learn it?

Chapter thirteen is about political writing and how not many people enjoy reading overly political writings. Authors often try to include some form of political view in their stories so they can make it interesting yet still get their point across. This is important for students to learn because by seeing the ways an author hides their political point of view helps them understand the author's motive for writing a certain literature, and the it can help them understand the writing itself.

Shakespeare's Political Point of View

Shakespeare thought King John was unfair to his kingdom and he thought the tactics King John used were too extreme for people to handle.

Big Concepts!!!

1) Literature tends to be written by people who are interested in the problems going on in the world

Many literature pieces influence the way people think politically without the reader realizing it. In the play, King John, Shakespeare makes John into a character that the crowd "would have accepted—a king with recognizably human failings as a ruler" (Pressley 1). Shakespeare is also able to show King John's extreme tactics used during his rule, which helps show Shakespeare's negative point of view towards King John's rule. The subtle hints such as theses that Shakespeare puts in this play helps him spread his political point of view, and it slowly influences the readers and the crowd.

2) Make political writing interesting

Most writers try to include some form of political point of view in their writing. They do this by using symbolism, foreshadowing, and some just come out and say their political point of view. The difference between subtle hints and being "overtly political" throughout writing, is that the literature about politics tends to be "one-dimensional" (109 Foster). While writing King John, Shakespeare includes politics yet he also includes drama and a story-like quality to it to make people interested in his play. By making King John interesting, Shakespeare is able to share his point of view while people enjoy his play.

3) Characters are symbols

When writing a story, many writers tend to pick characters "not because [they] are unique but because [they] are representative" (Foster 108). In King John, many characters symbolize something.


  • King John- symbolizes a corrupted government
  • Philip the Bastard- symbolizes the voice of those who are experiencing the king's wrath

"O inglorious league!
Shall we, upon the footing of our land,
Send fair-play orders and make compremise,
Insinuation, parley, and base truce
To arms invasive?" (Shakespeare)

  • This quote shows how Philip said the unspoken things of the people in town. The basic question he asked was, "Do you want fairness?"

4) All writing is political in some way

"Most works engage with their own specific period in ways that can be called political" (114 Foster). An author can include political portions from their era without realizing it; they use the "political reality of the time" to influence their work (114 Foster).

Political Reality of Their Time:

  • power structures
  • relations among classes
  • issues of justice and rights
  • interactions between different sexes, races, and ethnic groups

Political Reality of Their Time (King John edition):

  • power structures- King John
  • relations among classes- Different classes tended to stay apart
  • issues of justice and rights- King John was an extreme ruler and did most of the things he did for his own success
  • interactions between different sexes, races, and ethnic groups- Men and women practiced chivalry, race was not an issue (to Shakespeare), most ethnic groups stayed together

Shakespeare shows this in his writing because they are the political and social happenings around him, and his political and social experiences within his plays influences the audience's or the reader's political point of view.

Reading Strategy


1-Scan the paragraph

2-Question the paragraph while scanning it

  • What is the conflict in the paragraph?
  • What was happening in this time period that might affect how the author wrote the story?

3-Read the paragraph

4-Recite (think about) any questions you had while reading

5-Review with the class (class discussions)

*The passage we will be using comes from The Hunger Games*

Works Cited

Macrone, Michael. "Shakespeare Quotes." Web. 14 Nov 2013

"The Hunger Games." Wikipedia. 11 Nov 2013. Web. 14 Nov 2013.

Shakespeare, William. King John. George Manson University, 2003. Web

"Historical Events for Year 2003." HistoryOrb. 1-3. Web. 14 Nov 2013.

Pressley, J. "Shakespeare's King John: Drama Versus History." Bardweb, 2013. Web. 14 Nov 2013.

Foster, Thomas. How to Read Literature Like a Professor. HarperCollins, 108-116. eBook.

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, 2008. 16-18. Web.