Eros and Etiology in Love's Labour's Lost

Article


Chalk, Darryl. 2022. "Eros and Etiology in Love's Labour's Lost." Humanities. 11 (6), pp. 1-15. https://doi.org/10.3390/h11060152
Article Title

Eros and Etiology in Love's Labour's Lost

ERA Journal ID210563
Article CategoryArticle
Authors
AuthorChalk, Darryl
Journal TitleHumanities
Journal Citation11 (6), pp. 1-15
Article Number152
Number of Pages15
Year2022
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
ISSN2076-0787
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3390/h11060152
Web Address (URL)https://www.mdpi.com/2076-0787/11/6/152
Abstract

In Love’s Labours Lost, the creation of an academe where study is posited as the antidote to the diseases of the mind caused by worldly desire results in an epidemic of lovesickness. Lovesickness, otherwise known as ‘erotic melancholy’ or ‘erotomania’, was treated in contemporary medical documents as a real, diagnosable illness, a contagious disease thought to infect the imagination through the eyes, which could be fatal if left untreated. Such representation of love as a communicable disease is drawn, I suggest, from a neoplatonic tradition led by the work of Marsilio Ficino, particularly his fifteenth-century treatise Commentary on Plato’s Symposium on Love. Ficino’s construction of eros as a kind of ‘vulgar love’, distinctive from ‘heroic love’, emphatically denotes lovesickness as a kind of material contagion with the eye as its primary means of transmission, an idea that had a more significant influence in England and on the work of playwrights like William Shakespeare than has previously been acknowledged. For all its lighthearted conceits, Love’s Labour’s Lost takes lovesickness and its etiology very seriously, in ways that have been almost entirely ignored by scholarship on this play.

KeywordsLovesickness; contagion; Shakespeare; Love’s Labour’s Lost; neoplatonism; Marsilio Ficino; eros; melancholy; eyes;
Contains Sensitive ContentDoes not contain sensitive content
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020470504. British and Irish literature
360403. Drama, theatre and performance studies
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Permalink -

https://research.usq.edu.au/item/q7x29/eros-and-etiology-in-love-s-labour-s-lost

Download files


Published Version
humanities-11-00152.pdf
License: CC BY 4.0
File access level: Anyone

  • 26
    total views
  • 15
    total downloads
  • 0
    views this month
  • 0
    downloads this month

Export as

Related outputs

Like Furnace: Sighing on the Shakespearean Stage
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
Simular proof and senseless feeling: Synaesthetic overload in Cymbeline
Chalk, Darryl. 2020. "Simular proof and senseless feeling: Synaesthetic overload in Cymbeline." Smith, Simon (ed.) Shakespeare / Sense: Contemporary Readings in Sensory Culture. London, United Kingdom. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 245-268
Introduction: Beyond the Plague
Chalk, Darryl and Floyd-Wilson, Mary. 2019. "Introduction: Beyond the Plague." Chalk, Darryl and Floyd-Wilson, Mary (ed.) Contagion and the Shakespearean stage. Cham, Switzerland. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 1-21
Contagion and the Shakespearean stage
Chalk, Darryl and Floyd-Wilson, Mary. 2019. Contagion and the Shakespearean stage. Cham, Switzerland. Palgrave Macmillan.
Here's a strange alteration: contagion and the mutable mind in Coriolanus
Chalk, Darryl. 2014. "Here's a strange alteration: contagion and the mutable mind in Coriolanus." Prochazka, Martin, Dobson, Michael, Hofele, Andreas and Scolnicov, Hanna (ed.) Shakespeare's Renaissance/Renaissance Shakespeares: Proceedings of the Ninth World Shakespeare Congress. Newark, United States. University of Delaware Press. pp. 68-76
Make me not sighted like the Basilisk: vision and contagion in The Winter's Tale
Chalk, Darryl. 2014. "Make me not sighted like the Basilisk: vision and contagion in The Winter's Tale." Johnson, Laurie, Sutton, John and Tribble, Evelyn (ed.) Embodied cognition and Shakespeare's theatre: the early modern body-mind. Abingdon, OX. United Kingdom. Routledge. pp. 111-132
Rapt in secret studies and emergence in Shakespeare studies [Introduction]
Chalk, Darryl and Johnson, Laurie. 2010. "Rapt in secret studies and emergence in Shakespeare studies [Introduction]." Chalk, Darryl and Johnson, Laurie (ed.) Rapt in secret studies: emerging Shakespeares. Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 1-8
Contagious emulation: antitheatricality and theatre as plague in 'Troilus and Cressida'
Chalk, Darryl. 2010. "Contagious emulation: antitheatricality and theatre as plague in 'Troilus and Cressida'." Hirsch, Brett D. and Wortham, Christopher (ed.) This earthly stage: world and stage in late medieval and early modern England. Turnhout, Belgium. Brepols Publishers. pp. 75-101
To creep in at mine eyes: theatre and secret contagion in Twelfth Night
Chalk, Darryl. 2010. "To creep in at mine eyes: theatre and secret contagion in Twelfth Night." Chalk, Darryl and Johnson, Laurie (ed.) Rapt in secret studies: emerging Shakespeares. Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 171-193
A nature but infected: plague and embodied transformation in Timon of Athens
Chalk, Darryl. 2009. "A nature but infected: plague and embodied transformation in Timon of Athens." Early Modern Literary Studies: a journal of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literature.