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    How Shakespeare Stigmatized Skin Blemishes

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    Geo Beats

    by Geo Beats

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    A language analysis of William Shakespeare’s work by experts in the UK shows that the famous playwright might be partially responsible for people’s stigma against skin blemishes. There are several examples of dialogue where characters are cursed by being called different words for a blemish like “a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle,’ and Shakespeare would sometimes give the villain in his plays some kind physical skin condition to imply flaws in their character.

    A language analysis of William Shakespeare’s work by experts in the United Kingdom shows that the famous playwright might be partially responsible for people’s stigma against skin blemishes.

    There are several examples of dialogue where character's are cursed by being called different words for a blemish like “a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle,’ and Shakespeare would sometimes give the villain in his plays some kind physical skin condition to imply flaws in their character.

    Dermatologist Doctor Catriona Wootton, from Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham is quoted as saying: "Many of the diseases of the time involved lesions or sores on the skin, so skin imperfections were seen as a warning sign for contagious disease. This was not limited to signs of infection, but to any blemishes or moles, which were considered ugly and signs of witchcraft or devilry."

    The language used by Shakespeare also reinforces the idea in popular culture that people who have a good complexion can be trusted, while people with disfigurements might be sinister.

    Dermatologists say that films and books should work towards eliminating this stigma about skin conditions, because the social problems caused for their patients can sometimes be physiologically difficult to deal with.