The story of William Tell – at least in Friedrich von Schiller’s dramatisation – poses two questions on the politics of violence that remain unresolved more than two hundred years after its publication. The first of these questions is: What is it that distinguishes some acts of violence – say, murder - from others such as assassination or terrorism? Is killing a tyrant to protect one’s family fundamentally different to killing a family member to further one’s wealth? How do we decide where those differences lie, and therefore what meaning we give to harm caused to others? The second question raised by the play is: Under what conditions might particular acts of violence be morally justified? Is there, for example, a right to self-defence in the face of oppression or danger? Are demands for - or memories of - self-determination ever a valid reason for bloodshed? And, can vengeance – for punctured eyes or punctured apples – ever justify further harm?
Original languageEnglish
TypeRoyal Opera House Production of Rossini's Guillaume Tell, 1500 Word Essay in Official Programme
Media of outputPrint
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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