Thursday, May 1, 2014

What Drugs Did Shakespeare Do?

Here's a Mayday Shakespeare question. Was Shakespeare on drugs? And here's a response. Which time? You mean when he he sent a boy actor on stage to write Ovidian verses in the stage-dust, with a stick clutched between wrists bound and bloodied to look like he had no hands? Or when he gave Desdemona a few more lines to say after she'd been strangled to death? Or when he authored the worst lines in the canon, namely Laertes' after he hears of Ophelia's drowning: "Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia, and therefore I forbid my tears"? Certainly these textual instances constitute internal evidence of a mind gone haywire. But are they enough to convict the Bard of drug abuse?

Did Shakespeare over-indulge? Some have speculated that his death at a mere 52 suggests he did too much of something. But there were plenty of ways to die young in 1616, and, alas, though for centuries readers have attempted to extract