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Drugs and Theater in Early Modern England$
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Tanya Pollard

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199270835

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199270835.001.0001

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Vulnerable Ears: Hamlet and Poisonous Theater

Vulnerable Ears: Hamlet and Poisonous Theater

Chapter:
(p.123) 5 Vulnerable Ears: Hamlet and Poisonous Theater
Source:
Drugs and Theater in Early Modern England
Author(s):

Tanya Pollard (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199270835.003.0006

This chapter draws together the book’s concerns with the effects of the theater and the vulnerability of the body by examining the poisoned ear and the venomous power of language in Hamlet. It considers the play’s preoccupation with the vulnerability of the ears and the parallels between words and dangerous drugs as offering a model of corrosive theatrical power with both affective and material consequences. Drawing on early modern anatomical studies of ears as well as early modern debates about the material impact of words, the intensity of fears about the vulnerability of the body to language is demonstrated.

Keywords:   Shakespeare, Hamlet, language, poison

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