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Shakespeare Connected - ‘The natural gates and alleys of the body’ (Hamlet, 1.5.67): Physicality, Hygiene and Bodily Waste in Shakespeare’s World


A less unsightly (and less noisome?) version of the jordan, the close-stool’s lid shut to form a stool but also closed on the ‘stool’ (ie faecal matter) within. The detailed carving of this oak piece suggests considerable expense; would that those curved patterns on the front were ‘S’s for Shakespeare.

The Clown describes the message of the stinking Paroles contemptuously, ‘A paper from Fortune’s close-stool’ (All’s Well, 5.2.17) while Costard mangles Alexander the Great’s coat of arms (a lion on a throne holding an axe), describing a ‘lion that holds his pole-axe sitting on a close-stool’ (Love’s Labour’s Lost, 5.2.572).


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