Monday, October 14, 2013

Without Shakespeare, We Wouldn't Know What to Say

Now we sit through Shakespeare in order to recognize the quotations. ~Orson Welles

I realized the truth of what Welles said when, the other night, I watched an evening of Shakespearean plays that had been put to film. It seemed that, yea verily, every other line contained some familiar phrase that people use daily without connecting it to the bard: “Something's rotten in Denmark”, “to the manor born”, “Alas, poor Yorick; I knew him, Horatio”, the last being useful only when you have a skull handy, a dead friend named Yorick, and a live one called Horatio (although it's amazing how many people do, based on how often it's used).
So I perused the quote lists the other day and gathered a plethora of Will's bon mots from a gaggle of his plays and thought about where they might have application. Whether you agree with my applications or not, you will, after completing this article, be able to amaze your friends by rattling off some pithy phrase from Troilus and Cresseda.
To respond to that guy in the office who keeps saying how rich he would be if he only got some breaks:
“Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves ...” - Julius Caesar
What you think about your team's coach when that stupid play he called actually works:
“Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.” - Hamlet
Expressed, but not as eloquently, by a boss of mine years ago after a significant layoff occurred:
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.” - King Henry
What Chicago Cubs fans think as they wonder if management will ever assemble a winning team again:
"Now is the winter of our discontent.” - Richard III  

The truth about humanity boiled to its essentials:
“The common curse of mankind - folly and ignorance." – Troilus and Cressida
And to think, this was written before reality television. (I told you you'd get a quote from this play.)
The result of a referee's call being overturned by instant replay:
"Fair is foul, and foul is fair". - Macbeth
To the Bible-quoting fundamentalists and politicians, who can always find a verse to justify their actions:
"The devil can cite scripture for his purpose". – Merchant of Venice
Congressional excuses for doing nothing about everything:
“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” - Macbeth
I don't know how many of them are named Horatio, but this is directed to Intelligent Design advocates and Creationists who can't stomach the teaching of the theory of evolution:
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” - Hamlet
What Sonny Liston's corner man tried to tell him before his title fight with the guy who would change his name to Ali:
“Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; he thinks too much; such men are dangerous.” - Julius Caesar
To planners of meeting agendas, speakers at public gatherings, and bloggers everywhere:
"Brevity is the soul of wit." - Hamlet
Exit stage left.

Note:  A slightly edited rerun from long, long ago.

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