Drugs and Theater in Early Modern England by Tanya Pollard

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By Tanya Pollard

Drugs and Theater asks why Shakespeare and his modern playwrights have been so preoccupied with medicines and poisons and, at a deeper point, why either critics and supporters of the theater, in addition to playwrights themselves, so usually followed a chemical vocabulary to explain the consequences of the theater on audiences. Drawing upon unique scientific and literary learn, Pollard indicates that the efficiency of the hyperlink among medicinal drugs and performs within the interval demonstrates a version of drama significantly assorted than our personal, a version during which performs exert a robust influence on spectators' our bodies in addition to minds. Early smooth body structure held that the mind's eye and feelings have been a part of the physique, and exerted a fabric impression on it, but students of medication and drama alike haven't well-known the results of this concept. performs, which modify our feelings and proposal, at the same time swap us bodily. This booklet argues that the ability of the theater in early glossy England, in addition to the amazing hostility to it, stems from the generally held modern concept that drama acted upon the physique in addition to the brain. In yoking jointly pharmacy and theatre, this publication deals a brand new version for knowing the connection among texts and our bodies. simply as our bodies are constituted partially by way of the innovative fantasies they eat, the theater's good fortune (and notoriety) depends upon its energy over spectators' our bodies. medicines, which conflate matters approximately unreliable appearances and fabric risk, evoked fascination and worry during this interval by way of selecting a convergence element among the mind's eye and the physique, the literary and the medical, the paranormal and the rational. This ebook explores that very same convergence element, and makes use of it to teach the fabulous physiological powers attributed to language, and particularly to the embodied language of the theater.

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Where Chapter 3 emphasizes the women who absorb paint directly, this chapter studies the male admirers who absorb its effects indirectly, and examines the grotesquely material consequences attributed to spectatorship. Chapter 5 draws together the book’s concerns with the effects of the theater and the vulnerability of the body in an examination of the vulnerability of the ear and the power of language in Hamlet. With its strikingly self-conscious attention both to the workings of the theater and to the effects of dangerous drugs, Hamlet embodies this book’s themes with particular forcefulness.

Volpone puts Mosca’s model of performance into action, and underlines implicit parallels between the roles of actors and doctors, when he sets aside his primary role of a deathbed invalid to play a doctor himself in order to catch a glimpse of the beautiful Celia. As a word-swirling mountebank, Volpone revels in enacting, with parodic hyperbole, precisely the traits of which Mosca accused doctors in his earlier speech, fused with the playful theatricality that is his own hallmark. This scene, in which Volpone is finally allowed to regale an audience with the full force of his virtuouso verbal skills, offers the play’s most explicit reflections on the pleasures and perils of the theater.

My life for his, ’tis but to make him sleep. 18). While Corbaccio’s feigning is no match for the quicker wits of Volpone and Mosca, his unsuccessful attempt to play at deceit establishes medicine as the most dangerous arena for the theatrical games the play explores. 71, 70). While other dissembling tricks in the play rob their victims of money or pride, however, those of medicine threaten to kill, a possibility that edges the play’s comic farce uncomfortably towards the domain of tragedy. Mosca’s diatribe against doctors, while spoken largely in jest to justify the refusal of a clear poison, identifies the medical profession explicitly with murder, evoking the complaints against doctors cited earlier in this chapter.

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