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Plays/Shakespeare and Madness


Hi Shannon!
I'm writing a paper on madness in Shakespeare's threes plays; Macbeth, Hamlet and King Lear. However I am struggling to find reliable sources I can use in my essay. I am trying to find out more information about attitudes towards madness in Elizabethan times. In addition to this I am trying to find out more information about the relationship between man and God, the Divine Right of Kings and how the plays were viewed as moral lessons in Shakespeare's time. I know it's a lot but I thought i'd ask as I know you could come up with some great stuff!

Thank you!

Dear Lauren -

I wrote one of my final essays in college on madness in King Lear, Hamlet and The Twelfth Night - madness in Shakespeare is a wonderful theme. Thank you for your email!

I am sending you the items from my paper which were relevant to Hamlet and King Lear (I think that there were also discussions of Macbeth in some of these books).

Regarding divine right I am less knowledgeable, but here are a few sources which I hope will give you a start, if you haven't looked into them yet:

The Shakespeare Resource Center:

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature:

The English Historical Review (looks like it refers to good source material):

Lots of luck - if you'd like to ask further questions, please let me know!

Here is the bibliography:

Shakespeare, W. Hamlet, (P. Edwards, ed.) 1985, The New Cambridge Shakespeare, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Shakespeare, W. King Lear, (J. D. Wilson, ed.) 1968, The New Cambridge Shakespeare, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Shakespeare, W. The First Quarto of King Lear, (J. L. Halio, ed.) 1994, The New Cambridge Shakespeare, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The First Folio of Shakespeare, (Charlton Hinman, ed.) 1996, The Norton Facsimile, New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Alexander, N. Poison, Play, and Duel – A Study in Hamlet, 1971, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.

Anderson, R.L. Elizabethan Psychology and Shakespeare’s Plays 1964, New York: Haskell House.

Corum, R. Understanding Hamlet: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents 1998, Westport: Greenwood Press.

Davidson, P. Hamlet: Text and Performance (M. Scott, ed.) 1983, Frome: Macmillan Press Ltd.

Frye, N. Northrop Frye on Shakespeare (R. Sandler, ed.) 1986, New Haven: Yale University Press.

Garber, M.  Coming of Age in Shakespeare 1997, New York: Routledge.

Kinney, A. Shakespeare by Stages 2003, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Kocher, P. H.  Science and Religion in Elizabethan England, 1953, San Marino:  Anderson & Ritchie.

Critical Essays on King Lear, (L. Cookson, B. Loughrey, eds.) 1995, Longman Critical Essays, Essex: Longman Group Ltd.

The Casebook Series - Shakespeare: Hamlet (J.D. Jump, ed. 1969, Nashville: Aurora Publishers Inc.

Reference Books
The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV, Online Edition Copyright (Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor) © 2003 by K. Knight

The Oxford Companion to British History (John Cannon, ed.), 1997, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McEvoy, S. Shakespeare: The Basics 2000, London: Routledge.


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Shannon Kisch


I can answer many Shakespeare (plays and Elizabethan theater historic)-related questions. I also have a fair degree of knowledge in the field of modern English-speaking playwrights.


I am Artistic Director of an English-speaking community theater in Jerusalem. In this capacity, I have directed both modern and classical works, with an emphasis on Shakespeare. I have a BA in Theater Studies from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and I was recently accepted as an MA candidate at the Shakespeare Institute at Stratford-Upon-Avon

Center Stage Theater - Artistic Director

B.A. (Magna cuum Laude) - Theater Studies, Hebrew U.

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