SIGN UP

Hamlet -- ear poison

Avatar Image
rescuer | 12:58 Mon 20th Nov 2006 | Arts & Literature
5 Answers
I have always enjoyed 'Hamlet' but only recently have I stopped to think about the way Claudius poisoned Hamlet's father -- by putting a poison in his ear as he slept.
What sort of poison would this be and would it do the deadly damage by passing through the Eustachian tube?

Answers

1 to 5 of 5rss feed

Best Answer

No best answer has yet been selected by rescuer. Once a best answer has been selected, it will be shown here.

For more on marking an answer as the "Best Answer", please visit our FAQ.
Question Author
Thanks jno, that is very interesting. We did Hamlet for Higher School Certificate but I don't rememebr the type of poison and how it would have killed being discussed. And it is only recently that I began to wonder how it would have taken effect.
I suppose it's worth saying that in Shakespeare's day, 'accuracy' wasn't an issue the way it is now. The days, if you set a film in 1958 and show a car that wasn't made until 1959, it'll soon appear in a book of bloopers. But people were less nitpicky then. Shakespeare mentions chiming clocks in Julius Caesar, as I recall; the Romans didn't have them, but his audience simply wouldn't have cared. My guess is he might well have heard of some poison that works via ears, but wouldn't have done any research whatever to see if it existed.
I'm with Shakespeare, I don't let the facts get in the way either, when I'm telling a story!
The poison is Hebenon, a distillation of the bark and leaves of a yew tree. Reference the name "Taxus Baccata", the English Yew or the alkaliod "Taxine" for future info... very old-extremely toxic, not sure about the ear thing though, good luck m.

1 to 5 of 5rss feed

Do you know the answer?

Hamlet -- ear poison

Answer Question >>