Monday, January 18, 2010

A tribute to my homeboy

Hello, internet world. Today, I need to pay homage to my homeboy, Willy. Sometimes I call him Bill. Sometimes I just call him! ;) LOL. Just kidding! In all seriousness, I'm talking about the one and only William Shakespeare.

Now don't go rolling your eyes or sighing heavily. I know that some equate him to torture, but in actuality, Willy rocks! :)

On my facebook status, I quote him a lot. He's amazing with words. And if you took more than a nano-second to read it, it would, in fact, make sense! Gasp!

Anyhoo, I think that in order to show you just how cool my dude is, I am going to show you some of the phrases he coined that we still use today. Ha! Take that cynical people who say Shakespeare is out of touch with modern times! :)

We'll start off with an easy one. "Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em." This quote is from Twelfth Night. That's right folks. Not FDR or Patton or anyone else. This one came from Willy. Mad props to my main man! ;)

This next one is from one of my personal favorites: Othello. Ever hear someone say that it'll either make 'em or brake 'em? Wanna know where that came from? Check this out: "It makes us or it mars us." Seem WAY too familiar? It should! That's W. S. 2, World 0!

Ok, on to number three. This one is often confused as being coined by Dickens, but it is not. It's from Bill's play, Richard the Third. "Now is the winter of our discontent..." Surprised? You're not the only one, I'm sure. ;)

Have you ever heard someone say, "something smells fishy in Denmark?" Chances are, you have. I know I have. I never did quite understand, but I've also never been to Denmark so why would I get it? LOL. Check this out: "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark." Marcellus says this in Hamelt. Food for thought. ;)

Another favorite coined a tremendously famous phrase. "All that glisters is not gold." This saying is from The Merchant of Venice. Pretty cool, huh? ;)

"The course of true love never did run smooth;..." I'm sure we've all heard this one quite a few times. It's from A Midsummer Night's Dream.

I have OFTEN said that there is a method to my madness. In most cases, that's true. Though I'd like to take credit for that phrasem the real credit goes to William. Check out this quote from Hamlet: "Though this be madness, yet there is method in't."

When people feel that the world is in their hands; that they can have anything they want, they'll often say that the world is their oyster. That may be true. What's also true is that that phrase can be found in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Look at what Pistol says: "...the world's mine oyster,..." Crazy, huh?

We all know that people can become green with envy. Sometimes jealousy or envy are referred to as the green eyed monster. Where did that come from? Quite possibly the one and only Shakespeare! "O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-ey'd monster, which doth mock The meat it feeds on." Iago says that in Othello.

Have you ever been REALLY excited about something? Ever wait for something with "bated breath?" Take a look at a quote from Shylock from The Merchant of Venice: "...With bated breath and whisp'ring humbleness,..." What's interesting is that here, they're actually talking about whispering. We've turned that into great anticipation. Interesting how words and phrases change meanings over time.

We've all cracked or heard someone crack a joke about lawyers. We've heard people say that they're crooks or whatever have you. Ever hear someone say that we should kill all the lawyers & that will make for a better world? Whether or not that is true, Shakespeare suggested that in Henry the Sixth. "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Good old Dick says that in that play. Funny, huh? I guess some opinions never change! :)

Polonius says in Act I of Hamlet, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be,..." I've heard this umpteen million times. We all know how mucky waters can become when dealing with lending or borrowing from someone else, don't we?

Othello once said, "O farewell,
Farewell the neighing steed, and the shrill trump,
The spirit-stirring drum, th' ear-piercing fife;
The royal banner, and all quality,
Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!
And O you mortal engines, whose rude throats
Th' immortal Jove's dread clamors counterfeit,
Farewell! Othello's occupation's gone."

I am going to borrow the summation from for this one.

"If there were one speech that revealed Othello's "tragic flaw," this would be it. The noble Moor, who has led a life of astounding exploits and military glory, has ultimately staked his self-image and peace of mind on his marriage to a Venetian woman of privilege. When the villain Iago craftily persuades Othello that his wife has been unfaithful—a highly improbable event—the general bids farewell not just to marital bliss, but to his livelihood ("occupation"). No longer, he cries, can he experience "all quality,/ Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!"

Othello obviously isn't talking about his high school graduation. "Pomp and circumstance" (and "quality" and "pride") are the glories and ceremonies of warfare. In war's splendid rituals, Othello has forged his identity. Although we often use "pomp and circumstance" negatively, to denote affectation and overwrought exhibitionism, the Renaissance would have been more generous: pomp and circumstance were considered inherent, positive duties of the exalted classes."

Pretty cool, eh?

In "The Scottish Play," Willy writes: "If it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere well
It were done quickly. If th' assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
With his surcease, success: that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all—here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We'd jump the life to come."

Once again, e-notes comes up with a great explanation. "We use "the be-all and the end-all" in two rather different ways, neither of which pays much respect to Macbeth's intention. On one hand, the be-all and the end-all is something superlative in its category—a paragon or an extreme. On the other hand, the be-all and the end-all is an all-consuming project or passion—an idée fixe. Both uses, which meet somewhere in the vicinity of "the last word in the matter," pick up on the literal meaning of Macbeth's words while slighting the context. Macbeth speaks of an action, not a person or thing; he wonders if that action will be all that is required and end all that he must go through to be king. We refer to what is all it can possibly be and ends all competition, or to something that overrides all the normal limits. Macbeth would like his deed to be limited, while we admire a nearly unlimited excellence, or a passion without bounds." (Sorry about borrowing these explanations, but the little one is becoming impatient with me while I try to type this!)

There are COUNTLESS more quotes that have weaved themselves into the fabric of our culture. Personally, I think it's fantastic! We are carrying on history and heritage. As a writer, I could only hope to be quoted once, let alone an infinite number of times!

So folks, I hope this made Shakespeare slightly less intimidating, and perhaps even understandable. :) Enjoy his works. I think that without literary greats like Shakespeare, we as writers, would be lost.

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