Shakespeare on old age and disability
Journal/Book: Int J Aging Human Develop. 2000; 50: 26 Austin Ave, Amityville, NY 11701, USA. Baywood Publ Co Inc. 169-183.
Abstract: The plays of William Shakespeare were reviewed for references to disabilities, aging and disability, and older characters with disabilities. Shakespeare's references draw from traditional cultural notions about older people with disabilities. These traditional notions include people with physical disabilities being evil, the entertainment value of disabilty, and those who were mentally ill being wild and animal-like. He viewed the aging process as disabling and old age as a time when individuals lost some abilities to function, particularly when it came to mental capacity and physical mobility. His writings show that he used disability as a literary tool to add dimension to characters and set them apart. Contemporary literature continues to share some of Shakespeare's view on aging and disability but also departs from them in important ways. For example, contemporary treatment of disabilities and aging places more emphasis on the human side of the affects of aging and disabilities. Disabilities and aging are not cast in the same negative terms as Shakespeare used.
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