April 18, 2024

Shakespeare and bioethics

What did Will have to say about medicine and health?

Shakespeare may appear to be unimportant and irrelevant in bioethics. Yet the latest editorial published in The Lancet suggests the Bard is more significant for the discipline than some may think. 

“Shakespeare has appeared in 1200 Lancet publications… A keen observer of people, events, and ideas, Shakespeare excelled in the ability to distil their essence into characters and situations that remain recognisable today. In such contexts, familiarity with the human experience overpowers the unfamiliarity of language, and invites audiences to interpret the situation based on personal experience: be that as politician, sociologist, or clinician.” 

Shakespeare, say the Lancet’s editors, was a playwright with a profound grasp on human morality:

“At their heart, Shakespeare’s plays and poems explore humanity. Tales told with empathy about the struggles of human nature and passions; how all can be lost by poor choices or calamitous circumstance or, sometimes, gained by fortuitous external intervention. Just like the tales at the heart of health care.”

Creative commons
medicine and the humanities