Plague erased social, gender and personal differences. Shakespeare responded by emphasizing people’s unique and inerasable difference. His work is a narrative vaccine.
Twitter has been taunting us: When he was in quarantine from the plague, William Shakespeare wrote King Lear. He had an advantage, of sorts: Shakespeare’s life was marked by plague. Just weeks after his baptism at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564, the register read, “Hic incepit pestis” (Here begins the plague). Mortality rates in the town were four times that of the previous, plague-free year. Shakespeare, the son of the town’s glover, survived it and many further outbreaks. Much of his work was composed, if not in lockdown, then in the shadow of a highly infectious disease without a known cure. [Read more…]