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And there’s the Humor of it: Shakespeare and the Four Humors

William Shakespeare'And there’s the humor of it': Shakespeare and the four humors

English poet and playwright William Shakespeare created characters that are among the richest and most humanly recognizable in all of literature. Yet Shakespeare understood human personality in the terms available to his age—that of the now-discarded theory of the four bodily humors—blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. These four humors were understood to define people’s physical and mental health, and to determine individual’s personality, as well. "And there's the humor of it": Shakespeare and the four humors explores the language of the four humors and their influence in Shakespeare’s plays.

The online exhibition features a range of resources for educators and students, including lesson plans developed by classroom teachers for middle and high school classes, and a higher education module developed by a scholar working in the discipline for undergraduate and graduate students and instructors, educational online activities, and other resources.

Beginning in March 2012, "And there’s the humor of it" became available as a traveling exhibition free of charge to interested libraries and cultural centers. Please go to Book a Traveling Exhibition for more information.

Last Reviewed: December 4, 2015