Using the sixteenth-century theories of sympathies to examine the inter-character relationships in Hamlet, I argue for a period reading that offers insight into Hamlet’s delay and the basis for his problematic relationships with Gertrude and Ophelia. Asserting Hamlet’s character as an observer in the play with the ultimate goal of healing the infected state of Denmark, this examination of Hamlet explores how sympathetic healing would function between the characters of Hamlet, the Ghost, Gertrude, and Ophelia. Such a reading would present these characters as vulnerable bodies capable of directly affecting each other over a physical distance. Hamlet’s ultimate tragedy then would arise from his failures to engage with these sympathetic forces effectively, resulting in his inability to find the proper cure for his state.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Levine, Andrew, "Conceited Souls and Renaissance Cures: Sympathetic Magic Between Bodies in Shakespeare's Hamlet" (2020). Theses and Dissertations. 8414.
Hamlet, Gertrude, Ophelia, Claudius, The Ghost, affect, sympathy, antipathy, magic, sixteenth century medicine, Paracelsus, The Murder of Gonzago