Tag Archives: Shakespeare

Did Macbeth have syphilis?

Eleanor J. Molloy Dublin, Ireland   Gerard De Lairesse suffered from congenital syphilis. Image: Portrait of Gerard de Lairesse. Rembrandt van Rijn. 1665–67. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Public Domain. Introduction Syphilis was endemic in Elizabethan England and it was estimated that nearly 20% of the population of London were infected.1 The signs and symptoms […]

More than “toil and trouble”: Macbeth and medicine

Mariel Tishma Chicago, Illinois, United States   The Witches. Hans Baldung (called Hans Baldung Grien). 1510. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The image of a woman – a witch — working over a bubbling cauldron filled with stomach-turning substances is a staple of both horror and more family friendly media. One such example is Shakespeare’s […]

Madness and gender in Gregory Doran’s Hamlet

Sarah Bahr Indianapolis, Indiana, United States   John Everett Millais, Ophelia, 1851-52, Tate Britain, London. In director Gregory Doran’s 2009 film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, David Tennant’s Hamlet becomes a bawdy lunatic who consciously or unconsciously uncouples himself from reality. The intentionality of Hamlet’s madness is more muddled than in Shakespeare’s text because of the […]

Manifestations of madness in King Lear

Anoushka Sinha New York, United States   King Lear and the Fool in the Storm William Dyce (1806-1864) National Galleries of Scotland In his satirical masterpiece The Praise of Folly, the influential Dutch humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam attributes a Janus-like quality to madness, which he describes as two divergent manifestations: “one that which the Furies […]

Anatomical ghosts in The Merchant of Venice

Mauro Spicci   Antonio and the dangers of self-diagnosis In the last few years the steadily growing number of attempts to read Shakespeare’s plays from a medical perspective has been justified by the idea that they are not simply the immortal fruits of a genius, but also documents reflecting the historical, cultural, and social background […]