Like Furnace: Sighing on the Shakespearean Stage

Edited book (chapter)


Chalk, Darryl. 2021. "Like Furnace: Sighing on the Shakespearean Stage." Kenny, Amy and Peterson, Kaara L. (ed.) Humorality in Early Modern Art, Material Culture, and Performance. Switzerland. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 31-50
Chapter Title

Like Furnace: Sighing on the Shakespearean Stage

Book Chapter CategoryEdited book (chapter)
ERA Publisher ID2865
Book TitleHumorality in Early Modern Art, Material Culture, and Performance
Authors
AuthorChalk, Darryl
EditorsKenny, Amy and Peterson, Kaara L.
Page Range31-50
SeriesPalgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine
Chapter Number3
Number of Pages20
Year2021
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
ISBN9783030776176
9783030776183
ISSN2634-6435
2634-6443
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-77618-3_3
Web Address (URL)https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-77618-3_3
Abstract

Sighs, sometimes accompanied by tears and groans, are everywhere in Shakespeare’s plays and yet have received almost no attention in scholarship on the passions and early modern theatre. References to sighing are often taken as a commonplace rather than as potential cues to embodied action or clues to a character’s emotional state and, yet, sighing had anatomical, humoral, spiritual, and pathological significances in early modern culture. Constant sighing was viewed as a key external symptom of melancholic afflictions like lovesickness. With such ideas in mind, Chalk explores the representation of sighing on the Shakespearean stage in relation to medical and philosophical writings on this respiratory phenomenon. Visceral, vital, non-verbal, and affective, sighing was more than merely metaphorical: its use in Shakespeare often signifies the physicality and theatricality of the passions as necessarily performative phenomena.

KeywordsShakespeare, sighing, humoralism, early modern actor, wellbeing, illness, lovesickness, history of emotions, melancholy, Renaissance drama, early modern theatre, Shakespearean stage
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020470504. British and Irish literature
360403. Drama, theatre and performance studies
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Byline AffiliationsSchool of Creative Arts
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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