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The play offers a descriptive account of aristocratic sedition and a portrayal of the relationship between the king and his Protector. It concerns itself with the nature of history, the role of conscience, and the relationship between the law and justice. The main theme of the play is the question of legitimacy (who is the rightful heir of the throne) coupled with an examination of monarchical power and authority.
Crime and punishment is another theme of the play. All the traitors are punished. Most of the individuals who have committed a crime are punished. The evils of rebellion are exposed, suggesting perhaps that fighting tyranny with violence is a dangerous practice.
Throughout the play the audience sees conspiracies and allegiances being forged and threatening an end to political peace. The inefficient king is faced with the problems of political unity as well as internal dissension. Tragedies and deaths occur one after another, causing the fall of great men and strong women. The Cade rebellion evokes the disasters caused by rebellion and the disillusionment of the common people with war. The overall Mood of the play is instability and disillusionment.