It is common knowledge that Shakespeare's characters are incredibly complex. A lot of Shakespeare's protagonists are situated at the intersection of public and private, namely public life and private life. This is a statement which pertains to almost all of his historical or tragic characters, especially those who oscillate between being a king and being a father, a son, a husband, a man. His history plays portray antithetical characteristic features and the inner turmoil which occurs due to the tension, the conflict between public and private life.
Generally speaking, this is merely the ideal of an king, because in most cases there's a strong symbiosis between the public and the private lives of a man, which can only just highlight the conflicts between your two dimensions. A king has to deal with state affairs, but once he is a husband and a father, he also offers to take into account his family. Vice versa, once a married man becomes king, he must learn how to make the difference between his private and his public life without letting them interfering.
Nevertheless, this isn't always valid in all Shakespeare's plays. To start with, In King Lear, for example, the action of the play lays mainly in the sphere of family and portraits the partnership between parents and children. The main character of the play is Lear, an old king who decides that it might be better if he resigned and divided his kingdom among his three daughters. He is guilty of not making the difference between his public and his private life.
Moreover, Lear isn't just a father; he's also a monarch, this means he has both a public and an exclusive life. In his private life, he gets the to become old and ill but, as a king, oldness and sickness must not affect his public persona. It appears that his family's problems hinder the kingdom's ones since they involve the heirs of the country. Being unsure of his daughters triggers problems to the kingdom.
At the beginning of the play, it is revealed that Lear values appearances above reality and he's unable to distinguish them thus, in his public life, he has to deal with the results of his mistakes from his private life. He expects to hear flattery from his daughters even if what they state is nothing but a lie. Furthermore, he still wants to be treated as a king but he does not want to take full responsibility about the kingdom. Probably this is really because he wants to spend more time in his private life than in the public one.
At the opening of the play, Lear considers public self more important than the private self, aiming to do what is best for his kingdom, but without disregarding his family. What he wants is a peaceful kingdom in which his three daughters reign without battles, helping each other. As the reader progresses throughout the play, he discovers that, before end, the importance of the two selves becomes reversed. When Lear is finally rejoined with Cordelia in an instant of privacy, he does not have any fascination with his public life. There's a striking change of priorities in Lear's life, a significant contrast in Lear at the beginning of the play and Lear portrayed before his death.
Secondly, an identical situation can be encountered in Hamlet. The homonymous character must understand how to balance his two personas: the public one, the main one to be prince and the private one, being the son. This character deepens much in his obsession, in his private life, that he forgets about his public one. To him, no matter that he is the prince of Denmark and the near future king, everything that he wants is to prove his uncle's culpability.
Being enthusiastic about discovering and then revealing the reality, Hamlet is no more enthusiastic about the aspects that happen to be threatening the country, being concerned only with the issues in his family: the death of his father, his mother's immediate marriage. His private life is totally overwhelmed with his decision to unmask the culprit in such a way that he no longer treasures what he loves. He rejects Ophelia and treats her as if she meant nothing to him, hurting her and he accuses his mother of not being loyal to his father.
Hamlet exposes his true feelings through his soliloquies where the reader can cast a glance in his soul and find out his private thoughts. Hamlet feels disappointed because very much he loved and cherished his father, that he's unable to accept the actual fact that his mother actually remarried. He's a man would you not avoid to confront his own imperfections and who refuses illusions and fake ideals.
His inner thoughts are in contradiction with his public actions. He's thoughtful and philosophical, considering life, afterlife, about his suicide, however when he must act, he does it impulsively, hurting and disturbing the methods surrounding him.
His plan of unmasking his uncle is constructed in a clever and allusive way. What results is the fact that Claudius feels unconformable at the sight of Hamlet's innuendos and exposes himself by leaving the room.
Thirdly, the theme of public and private lives also appears in Richard II. The major character enjoys kingship without really involving himself in the state's affairs. Although, at the start of the play, he may look like a devoted king, he start losing his kingship when he feels threatened by Henry's army, ending with offering his crown before dying.
Shakespeare wrote more other plays in which this situation is dramatized, most of them having a tragic end. The reader will find the conflict between public and private lives in plays such Othello, Troilus and Cressida, Macbeth or Julius Caesar.
Finally, being both a king and a man is not quite a straightforward matter. One must recognize that being the king means representing the desires and wishes of the complete realm, the whole people, their wishes being more important than the king's since the monarch is the embodiment of his subjects. A king has to recognize that the people's problems are more important than his and that he must place his public life above his private self, his political persona being superior to the private one. A king must fully understand his position in their state. Not observing this rule may cause chaos to the kingdom, may conduct to him losing his crown. Characters such as Lear, Richard II or Hamlet don't realize their position and this causes problems to the kingdom.