Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Plagued by kindness: contagious sympathy in Shakespearean drama


This article considers Shakespeare's metaphors of transmission, contagion and infection in the light of period plague tracts, medical treatises and plague time literature. The author demonstrates how period conceptions of disease are predicated upon a notion of sympathetic transference and, consequently, how kindness, likeness and communication between characters in Shakespearean drama are complicated and fraught with period specific anxiety. This article situates Shakespearean literary texts within a precise historical and medical moment, considering how scientific conceptions contaminate dramatic text.

  • Shakespeare
  • plague
  • contagion
  • Othello
  • sympathy
  • English literature

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.