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How did the four humours influence Shakespeares' work?

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tyla fazey

on 14 July 2014

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Transcript of How did the four humours influence Shakespeares' work?

By Eka, Tyla, Samia, Ben, George, Chloe, Bryony
How did the four humours influence Shakespeares' work?
Influence?
Shakespeare incorporated the four humours into his writing by reflecting the characteristics of each humour into the different roles. He used these characteristics to set the idea for his main characters in a variety of plays, mainly Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth.


What are the four humours?
The four humours consist of what in this time they thought to be the only only liquids inside the body. These liquids are Blood,Yellow bile, Black bile, and phlegm. This ideology dates back to Ancient Greece which shows that medical knowledge in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras weren't very advanced. They believed that an imbalance in the humours can determine different characteristics or it was seen as a cause for an illness.
Yellow Bile
Element: fire
Organ:gall bladder
Ancient name: choleric
Ancient characteristic: prone to anger, rashness and pride
In a balanced person, the predominance of choler ensured a reactive and quick-tempered character. A choleric was typically able to make decisions well and fast, and preferred action over contemplation.
Element: Earth
Organ: spleen
Ancient name: melancholic
Ancient Characteristics: introspective, morose, sleepless, irritable
Those who were generally balanced could have episodes of mild melancholy, akin to the blues. Those who were less balanced might be more affected by it and develop a syndrome akin to depression. Melancholics used to be identified by their pale, sallow looks, their lack of appetite and tendency to withdraw from society.
Black Bile
Element: water
Organ: brain/lungs
Ancient name: phlegmatic
Ancient Characteristics: cowardly, dull, pale in complexion
Phlegm was associated with slowness, sleepiness, runny noses and lack of drive of any sort. At its best, though, and especially when it was present with a relatively high proportion of choler, phlegm was thought to ensure a sense of calm, stability and serenity, as well as a capacity for prolonged concentration and for appropriate judgements and upraisals of situations and people.
Phlegm
Blood
Element: air
Organ: liver
Ancient Name: sanguine Ancient Characteristics: cheerful, courageous, agreeable or lustful
Blood was the "best" of all the humours. The sanguine person was typically balanced, calm, composed, patient, thoughtful, active in a measured way, able to judge people and situations well, and to contain his or her own shifts of moods, as well as those of others. The presence of blood diminished the power exerted by other humours that might have been present in high doses. An excess of it, however, went along with a general insensitivity and indifference to the fate of others.
References in Macbeth
References in Romeo and Juliet
Lady Macbeth says:
"Yet who would have thought / the old man to have had so much blood in him" (V.1.44-45)
This reference to blood implies Duncan's sanguine personality of being kind and joyful.

Lady Macbeth also says:
And take my milk for gall (1.5.53)
i.e., Take away my milk, and replace it with gall.
Gall comes from an excess of yellow bile. An imbalance of yellow bile in the body turns one ruthless and insolent which could demonstrate how ruthless Lady Macbeth becomes as she plans Duncans Death.
Romeo in Romeo and Juliet would be considered a textbook example of a person with "too much blood." He is extremely "warm and moist" in his characterization as being amorous, hopeful, courageous, optimistic, and loving. This is seen in his interactions with Juliet, he is very loving and amorous towards her, and he is also hopeful and optimistic that their relationship/marriage will be able to overcome the feud of their families
Attributes of each humours are:
Blood- Mercutio & Juliet
both these two are optomistic and irritable
Yellow Bile - Tybalt & Capulet
Both short tempered and agressive
Phlegm - Benvolio
He is lazy and sluggish
Black Bile- Romeo
introspective and worried
Examples
Examples
Attributes of each humours are:
Blood- Banquo
Optomistic character
Yellow Bile - Lady Macbeth & Macbeth
Short tempered and agressive
Phlegm - The three whitches
Layed back
Black Bile- Macduff
Anxious and troubled
For example he would also include references in the script like in Macbeth when Lady Macbeth says:
"Yet who would have thought / the old man to have had so much blood in him" (V.1.44-45)
This refers to one of the humours- blood.

1 Two Gentlemen of Verona
2 Taming of the Shrew
3 Henry VI, part 1
4 Henry VI, part 3
5 Titus Andronicus
6 Henry VI, part 2
7 Richard III
8 The Comedy of Errors
9 Love's Labours Lost
10 A Midsummer Night's Dream
11 Romeo and Juliet
12 Richard II
13 King John
14 The Merchant of Venice
15 Henry IV, part 1
16 The Merry Wives of Windsor
17 Henry IV, part 2
18 Much Ado About Nothing


19 Henry V
20 Julius Caesar
21 As You Like It
22 Hamlet
23 Twelfth Night
24 Troilus and Cressida
25 Measure for Measure
26 Othello
27 All's Well That Ends Well
28 Timon of Athens
29 The Tragedy of King Lear
30 Macbeth
31 Anthony and Cleopatra
32 Pericles, Prince of Tyre
33 Coriolanus
34 Winter's Tale
35 Cymbeline
36 The Tempest
37 Henry VIII
Shakespeares Work
Full transcript