Shakespeare and the Black Plague
When the Black Plague is mentioned most people think of the first occurrence from 1348-1400, yet many people don’t know that it reoccurred when Shakespeare was alive. Shakespeare was affected by the Black Plague in several ways: many of his family members died, his family incurred the high expenses of medical care, and he lived in an environment where people were dying everywhere and bodies even littered the streets. Many people in Shakespeare’s family died from the Plague, during his life and even after he died. Shakespeare lost eight family members to the Plague. He lost his sisters Joan, Margaret, and Anne. Joan and Margaret died as babies and Anne died when she was seven. Shakespeare’s brother Edmund died when he was 27 (Bubonic Plague and Shakespeare.). The greatest loss for Shakespeare was his only son Hamnet. Hamnet died when he was just eleven. Also, Shakespeare had three grandsons that died from the Plague. Shakespeare Quiney died at six months old and Richard and Thomas Quiney died at ages 19 and 20 years old (Bubonic Plague and Shakespeare.). Because of all the people that were afflicted with the Plague in Shakespeare’s family we can assume that there were enormous medical expenses to pay. The symptoms of the Black Plague were very painful and very hard to get rid of. There was swelling in the armpits, legs, neck, and groin called buboes; other symptoms included a very high fever, and delirium and mental disorientation. There was also vomiting, muscular pains, bleeding in the lungs and the most fatal symptom was an intense desire to sleep which could lead to death (The Black Death during the Elizabethan Era.). Many tried to help the victims of the plague. Churches, “wise women” who were considered to be knowledgeable of herbal healing and magic charms, barbers that doubled as surgeons because their tools were useful for bloodletting a patient, and the Apothecary who would dispense drugs are all the...
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