Plagued by kindness: contagious sympathy in Shakespearean drama

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This article considers Shakespeare's metaphors of transmission, contagion and infection in the light of period plague tracts, medical treatises and plague time literature. The author demonstrates how period conceptions of disease are predicated upon a notion of sympathetic transference and, consequently, how kindness, likeness and communication between characters in Shakespearean drama are complicated and fraught with period specific anxiety. This article situates Shakespearean literary texts within a precise historical and medical moment, considering how scientific conceptions contaminate dramatic text.

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