Tag Archives: Shakespeare

Syndrome de Lasthénie de Ferjol

Krishna G. Badami Christchurch, New Zealand   Figure 1. ‘Une Histoire sans nom’ by Jules Amedee Barbey d’Aurevilly. Source Several years ago we saw a young woman who had an iron deficiency anemia, caused not by blood loss from menstruation (a common cause of iron deficiency anemia in females), but by repeatedly drawing her own blood by venipuncture and discarding it. […]

Bad blood: the drama of bloodshed

Emily Boyle Dublin, Ireland   Lucia’s mad scene – Rachelle Durkin as Lucia during The Chautauqua Opera’s dress rehearsal for Lucia di Lammermoor. Photo by Michelle Kanaar In some professions, bloodstained clothing is a normal part of the job. The two jobs that come to mind principally are a butcher and a vascular surgeon, although […]

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 […]