ABSTRACT

What was blood to early modern dramatists? The Player in Tom Stoppard’s brilliant send-up of Hamlet asserts what many scholars of the London theaters in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have long suspected: Blood was essential to the Renaissance stage, a “compulsory” means of dramatic expression for the period. From Orlando’s bloody handkerchief in As You Like It to the bowl of blood used to wash the murderers’ hands in A Warning for Fair Women, blood was a familiar sight and symbol in early modern drama of all genres.