In early modern England, social violence and recurring diseases ensured death was a constant presence, so it is only natural to find such a prominent theme in Shakespeare’s plays, especially his tragedies. His characters died at the hands of one another more often than from natural causes, whether stabbing, poisoning, or beheading (or a combination of the three!). But physical brutality is not only source of pain — which is worse: to die of shame, shock, or grief? And so in death, Shakespeare can explore the fragility of human nature and the precarious nature of our mortality.
Infographic courtesy of Caitlin Griffin and the National Theatre Bookshop. Used with permission.
Featured Image: “Ophelia” by John Everett Millais. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons