King John by William Shakespeare

This play is surprisingly good for one of Shakespeare’s lesser known works. It is a story of shifting alliances and treachery in a world that is constantly uncertain. Surprisingly, a character known simply as “the Bastard,” who is surely fictional, is the central and most sympathetic character in the story, proving himself a pole of constancy and unbroken loyalty in an ever-changing and faithless world. King John himself is hardly sympathetic, but his enemies are hardly any more noble. This is a very short drama, but it packs a punch, and it seems to me unjustly overlooked among Shakespeare’s admittedly massive canon.

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