Hamlet’s Story/Stories of Hamlet: Shakespeare’s Theater, the Plague, and Contagious Storytelling

  • J. F. BernardEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine book series (PLSM)


Bernard considers the ways in which the bubonic plague imagery in Hamlet provides a direct reflection of its protagonist’s drive for publicity, one that conflates the character’s literary, cultural, and critical iconicity with the play’s own status as a primary agent of Shakespearean storytelling. The parallels between contagion and the spread of information in the play, he argues, mimic those inherent to the business of theatre itself, suggesting that in striving to ensure its subsistence, theater must constantly infect new “carriers.” With a brief look to the play’s afterlife within today’s increasingly digital literary landscape, the chapter claims that Shakespeare’s play essentially went viral before “going viral” rose to cultural prominence.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Champlain CollegeMontrealCanada

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