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Shakespeare and the natural world [infographic]

It is probable that Shakespeare observed, or at least heard about, many natural phenomena that occurred during his time, which may have influenced the many references to nature and science that he makes in his work. Although he was very young at the time, he may have witnessed the blazing Stella Nova in 1572, which could explain his reference to the “westward star” in Hamlet. In 1580 there was the Dover Straits earthquake, which was one of the largest in recorded English history and inspired several pamphlets, reports, and even poems about its effect. Additionally, the English defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588 partially due to a freak windstorm, later referred to as a “Protestant wind.” Although these occurrences may seem commonplace today, in Shakespeare’s time they were surprising and intriguing. Even if they did not influence Shakespeare’s work directly, it is clear that he maintained some understanding of the natural and, what we would identify as, the scientific world.


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Featured Image: “Miranda – The Tempest” by John William Waterhouse. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Recent Comments

  1. It is natural that a genius par excellence like Shakespeare would be inquisitive about the natural or scientific phenomena.

    There’s no way to know the details. But we can fantasize & fictionalize!! That’s what the upcoming movie named “William Shakespeare” will do. To know the details right from Shakespeare himself’s mouth go to https://about.me/shakespearewilliam

  2. William Ray

    Interesting that no celestial phenomenon mentioned in the Shakespeare works dates to after 1604, although shortly after then Galileo designed a telescope and scanned the moons of Jupiter. This contributes to the argument that the writer died then. Shakspere lived another twelve years.

  3. William Shakespeare

    Shakespeare’s plays are mostly set in earlier than his time and he Never mentioned any dates in those plays.

    So, it’s completely misleading to mention the year 1604.

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