A beast, no more

McGill professor says Shakespeare was an animal.

Yachnin’s lecture, “The Beast in Shakespeare” reveals how Shakespeare was also simply an animal – just like you and me. Borrowing a quotation from Montaigne’s Essays, Yachnin states that Shakespeare’s plays strive to bring “all human things…under the same general throng.” 

From Auschwitz to the subjugation of women, equating humans with animals has been used persistently to justify forms of brutal exploitation. Shakespeare’s plays confront such vulgarities of human immorality; not coincidentally, the early days of European trade on African shores coincided with his life. The lecture concentrated on The Taming of the Shrew and King Lear – written at opposite ends of Shakespeare’s life – to reveal his gradual meditation on facets of human animality.

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