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A Thousand Times More Fair
What Shakespeare's Plays Teach Us About Justice
Kenji Yoshino

Ecco
April 2011/ ISBN 006176910X
Nonfiction / Shakespeare / Law / Social Justice
Amazon

Reviewed by Carmen Ferreiro

The burden of proof, a jury of peers, the presumption of innocence are things we consider necessary for the administration of justice in XXI century America. But it was not always thus, as Kenji Yoshino shows us in A Thousand Times More Fair, by examining the different ways that justice was served (or not) in the different time periods (from Rome to the XVII century) as presented by Shakespeare in nine of his plays.

The plays Mr. Yoshino discusses and the points about justice he takes from them are summarized as follows:

In Titus Andronicus (Roman times) he shows us how when revenge is the substitute for justice the result is an unending circle of violence and death.

In the Merchant of Venice, he criticizes Ms. Portia's use of rhetoric to accomplish her own ends.

In Measure for Measure he questions whether an unfair law should be followed.

In The Henriad (the plays about Henry V) he discusses the concept of the King as the source of absolute power.

In Othello he warns about the dangers of a blind faith in material evidence.

In Macbeth he underlines the pagan belief in natural justice.

In Hamlet he argues that the prince's hesitation comes from his desire for a perfect justice, an unattainable end that causes unexpected harm.

In King Lear, the king's madness separates him from human law and gives him a clear vision into justice.

Finally, in The Tempest, he proposes that even the fairest of rulers must give up power before it corrupts them.

In each chapter, Mr. Yoshino brings a parallel between the ideas discussed in that particular play and current events, and, by doing so, he shows how little the world has changed since Shakespeare's times.

The message, if there is one, I found in Kenji Yoshino's examination of how justice is served in Shakespeare's' plays is that justice is anything but fair.

A Thousand Times More Fair is a highly entertaining read, both controversial and enlightening and I highly recommend it.

Reviewer Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban is the author of a YA fantasy Two Moon Princess Press and four nonfiction titles.
Reviewed 2011
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