Humoral Psychology in Shakespeare's Henriad
In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:
A literary survey of Galenic usages between 1350 and 1700 confirms Shakespeare's and Jonson's dominion as deliberate humoralists, especially in the plays of 1597-1606: Chaucer uses "humor" 8 times, Lyly 23, Spenser 22, Shakespeare 141, Jonson 236, Donne 9, and Milton 5. Contrary to popular opinion, however, the locus classicus of humoral psychology is not the voguish humor-comedy of Chapman (1597) or Jonson (1598-99), but Shakespeare's epic Henriad, especially Part 1 (1597). We need not review (with C. R. Baskerville, Jurgen Schafer, and James A. Riddell) the rising tide of satiric pseudo-humors between 1580 and 1630. Lyly's preening Euphuisms, Nashe's caustic satire, Jonson's fabulous grotesques, while accreting new meanings to "humor," do not treat genuine Galenism but pseudotempers: whimsical quirks, obsessions, nonsensical affectations. Only Shakespeare fully exploits humoralism 's psychodynamic basis, the Empedoclean-Hippocratic-Aristotelian principle of contrariety.1 The four main figures of 1 Henry IV exemplify the Galenic temperaments with psychological depth and in complex oppositional relationship.
Reid, Robert L.
"Humoral Psychology in Shakespeare's Henriad,"
Comparative Drama: Vol. 30
, Article 3.
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/compdr/vol30/iss4/3