April 23, 2012

Shakespeare's Birthday


Today is typically considered to be William Shakespeare's birthday. We don't know that for a fact, but what we do know is that he was baptized on April 26, 1564. He died April 23, 1616, and I, like many before me, like the neatness of dying on one's birthday, so I choose to believe it's true.

Over 37 plays have been attributed to Shakespeare, and he is the most quoted (and misquoted) writer in the English language (excluding English translations of the Bible). He was most prolific in the genre of comedy, but the tragedies seem to be studied more in schools. Many of his most famous quotes come from the tragedies:

From Romeo and Juliet
  • "O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" (II.ii.33).
  • "What's in a name? That which we call a rose / by any other name would smell as sweet" (II.ii.1-2)
  • "Parting is such sweet sorrow" (II.ii.184)
  • "A plague on both your houses!" (III.i.91)
  • "O happy dagger! / This is thy sheath; there rust, and let me die." (V.iii.169-170)
From Macbeth
  • "Double, double, toil and trouble / fire burn and cauldron bubble" (IV.i.10-11).
  • "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow / creeps in this petty pace from day to day / to the last syllable of recorded time" (V.v.19-21).
  • "Out, damned spot! out, I say!" (V.i.35)
  • "She should have died hereafter" (V.v.17).
From Hamlet
  • "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" (I.iv.89).
  • "Frailty, thy name is woman!" (I.ii.146)
  • "Though this be madness, yet there is method in't" (II.ii.206).
  • "To be, or not to be. That is the question." (III.i.55) (This entire speech is often memorized, and many lines from it have become famous quotes. I give this one because it's probably the most famous.)
  • "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." (III.ii.230)
  • "Alas, poor Yorick!" (V.i.185)
From Julius Caesar (technically a History, but it  has many of the essential elements of a Shakespearean tragedy)
  • "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings" (I.ii.140-141).
  • "Cowards die many times before their deaths, / The valiant never taste of death but once." (II.ii.33-34)
  • "Et tu, Brute?" (III.i.77)
  • "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!" (III.ii.74)
There are a great many more, of course, and the comedies should not be neglected either. For Shakespeare facts, quotes, and more, check out http://www.opensourceshakespeare.org/ or http://www.nosweatshakespeare.com/.

No comments:

Post a Comment