Will's word

30th June 2006 at 01:00
The dominant modern usage relates to excretion, but that nuance is irrelevant in the three places where Shakespeare uses the word.

When Romeo talks about the apothecary whom he plans to visit to buy poison, he describes his shop as containing "empty boxes, Green earthen pots, bladders" (Romeo and Juliet, V.i.46), by which he means simply "vessels derived from animals for storing liquid".

And when Thersites talks of "the rotten diseases of the south... bladders full of impostume" (Troilus and Cressida, V.i.20, in the Quarto text only), he is referring generally to any cavity or vessel in the body.

The remaining usage, in Henry VIII, sometimes takes the reader by surprise.

This is when Wolsey says "I have ventured, Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders" (III.ii.359). Here the reference is simply to an air-filled bag which can be used in the manner of a lifejacket - what we would today call "water-wings".

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now