Food in Hamlet by William Shakespeare Essay

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Food in Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Unlike some of Shakespeare's other plays Hamlet doesn't seem to
contain as many references to food. When researching food in reference
to The Merry Wives of Windsor, it was easy to see much of the
symbolism behind the many references. One of the most interesting
references to food in Hamlet we discussed in class. I found it really
interesting how Shakespeare used posset as a way to describe poison
clotting in the ear. Unfortunately though, references like this are
few and far between in Hamlet. One scene that I found fascinating was
in act four, scene five. This is the scene where, apparently mad,
Ophelia begins to distribute various flowers. These flowers, some of
which double up as herbs and spices, carry specific meaning and
symbolism. In the text it is unclear to whom Ophelia is distributing
the flowers and herbs to. However, if you take a closer look at their
meanings along with what is going on in the plot of the play, it is
possible to make an educated guess as to who the flowers and herbs are

The first herb that Ophelia distributes is rosemary, which she cites
as being for remembrance. It is unclear in the stage direction whether
she hands these over to the King, the Queen, or her brother Laertes.
Ophelia at this point seems to be in a mad state due to her father's
death. Ever since Hamlet killed Polonius, Ophelia has been singing and
dancing around in a crazed state muttering incomplete thoughts.
Ophelia is saddened by the death of her father and distraught that
Hamlet was the murderer. I believe that Ophelia handed the Rosemary
over to Laertes as a reminder that he must a...

... middle of paper ...

...rn period I would have had
to try to use one of the medications in The English Housewife. And
while I'm sure their food was good, even by our standards, I do not
think I would trust their medical treatments, even for something
simple like a stomachache.

As a whole, I have had an enlightening experience with early modern
cookery, to say the least. I now have a whole now outlook and respect
for cooks in the early modern kitchen and for the cooks of today. I
also should say that I now realize how important modern medicine, a
hot shower and comfortable bed can be when you are sick.

Works Cited Page

Markham, Gervase. The English Housewife. Ed. Michael R. Best. Canada:
McGill- Queen's UP, 1994.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine.
New York: Washington-Square Press, 1992.

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