Shakespeare's Theories of Blood, Character, and Class

A "Festschrift</I> in Honor of David Shelley Berkeley

by Peter C. Rollins (Volume editor) Alan Smith (Volume editor)
Monographs VIII, 244 Pages
Series: Studies in Shakespeare, Volume 12


Shakespeare’s Theories of Blood, Character, and Class is a collection of essays that explores the works of Shakespeare by applying David Shelley Berkeley’s approach to them as literary manifestations of Elizabethan political, scientific, and social thought. Elizabethan scientific and medical principles held that, from conception, human beings were endowed with either hot or cold blood; as a result, the moral nature of individual human beings was considered as much a matter of physiology and eugenics (nature) as of moral instruction (nurture). With the best blood preserved among the aristocracy by selective breeding and by the consumption of the best food and drink and with the worst blood sustained among the lower classes by base parentage and by the enforced consumption of inferior sustenance, the Elizabethan citizenry – like Shakespeare’s characters – found itself rigidly stratified into social classes reflective of the widely varying quality of its blood. Shakespeare’s Theories of Blood, Character, and Class enhances the many current readings of Shakespeare on the basis of humors psychology by illuminating a neglected component of Elizabethan thought that is essential to a full understanding of Shakespeare and his times.


VIII, 244
ISBN (Hardcover)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt/M., Oxford, Wien, 2001. VIII, 244 pp., 1 ill.

Biographical notes

Peter C. Rollins (Volume editor) Alan Smith (Volume editor)

The Editors: Peter C. Rollins is Regents Professor of English at Oklahoma State University where he teaches courses in film and American studies. His articles on film/history as well as film/literature have appeared in such journals as Film & History, The Journal of Popular Film and Television, The Literature/Film Quarterly, and American Classic Screen. His work on Will Rogers has led to the publication of many articles, one book, Will Rogers: A Biobibliography (1983), and a film, Will Rogers’ 1920s: A Cowboy’s Guide to the Times (1976). His research on Vietnam led to two films on media and the war. Recent publications include Hollywood’s World War I (1997); Hollywood’s Indian: The Portrayal of the Native American in Film (1998); and Television Histories: Shaping Collective Memory in the Media Age (2001). Alan Smith, who studied Shakespeare and Restoration drama under the tutelage of David Shelley Berkeley, directs the English Studies Program at City College of Norman, Oklahoma.


Title: Shakespeare's Theories of Blood, Character, and Class