Cats were considered pests, carriers of disease, and indicators of witchcraft, but also objects of affection and partners in play.
Posts By: Haylie Swenson
Shakespeare and his contemporaries were fascinated with bees as metaphors for human behavior, especially when it came to politics and government.
Owls were bad omens for Shakespeare and his contemporaries. The general of the French forces, facing an English emissary in Henry VI, Part 1, calls him “Thou ominous and fearful owl of death, / Or nation’s terror and their bloody scourge!” (4.2.15) Similarly, when Richard III receives bad news on the battlefield, he reacts by… Continue Reading »
When, in Henry IV, Part II, Bardolph calls his page a “whoreson upright rabbit,” he’s not exactly thinking of the animal we now know as rabbits. (2.2.84) In Shakespeare’s day, “rabbit” referred specifically to the young of conies (the European rabbit); it was a word like puppy or kitten. Adult rabbits were always called conies,… Continue Reading »
There may not be a more insulted character in all of Shakespeare’s canon than Richard III. The woman he’s wooing, Anne, calls him a hedgehog. In the very next scene, Queen Margaret calls him an “abortive, rooting hog,” a “bottled spider,” and a “poisonous bunch-backed toad” (Richard III I.3.239, 256, 260-261). And this isn’t the… Continue Reading »
While the global population of European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) is stable, their numbers have been rapidly declining in the UK for decades, especially in rural areas. This has led to a huge upswell of conservation efforts as people try to protect the UK’s only spiny mammal, and one of these efforts is centered in Shakespeare’s… Continue Reading »
On Saturday, January 25, the Lunar New Year will mark the beginning of the Year of the Rat. According to legend, the Jade Emperor held a race for the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac to determine their order. The rat tricked the much faster ox into carrying him on his back. Then, just as… Continue Reading »
How many animals have you encountered today, and in what forms? From pets and urban species such as squirrels and sparrows, to meat products and leather, the number may surprise you. Even for those of us who live in human-built spaces, like cities and suburbs, animals and animal bodies are still everyday aspects of human… Continue Reading »