LIARS and LIES in Shakespeare

The top ten types of lies and liars:

1. A notorious liar as in everybody knows your propensity for avoiding facts. You have such an unsavoury reputation only strangers are misled and then not for long.

2. A consummate liar as in rarely does anyone lie as convincingly. In fact your mastery of the art is so great your lies are crowned with success.

3. An incorrigible liar as in you are impervious to correction. Even if caught in your lie and despite punishment, embarassment or unhappiness, there is no reforming your distortions of the truth.

4. An inveterate liar as in you are the victim of firmly fixed and deep rooted habits. Telling untruths is as frequent and customary as brushing your teeth or waking up.

5. A congenital liar as in you have such a long history of persistent falsification that you can only suspect you started when you were in your mother’s womb.

6. A chronic liar as in you never stop lying. You lie continually, not occasionally or frequently but all the time.

7. A pathological liar as in you are not concerned with the difference between truth or falsehood. You do not distinguish between fact and fantasy. Your lying is a disaease.

8. An unconscionable liar as in you are completely without regret or even a conscience. No matter what misery your lies may cause your innocent victims, you never feel the slightest twinge of guilt.

9. A glib liar as in youare possessed of a lively imagination and a ready tongue. You can distort facts as smoothly and effortlessly as you can say your name. But ironically enough, your very smoothness makes you suspect because your answers are too quick to be true.

10. An egregious liar as in all your lies are vicious, calculated, predetermined, and cold. Your lies are so hurtful people gasp in amazement and disgust at hearing them.

thanks to Bloomsbury word power for this overview and definitions.
ISBN 0-7475-2213-8

All’s Well That Ends Well
[IV, 3]
He will steal, sir, an egg out of a cloister: for
rapes and ravishments he parallels Nessus: he
professes not keeping of oaths; in breaking ‘em he
is stronger than Hercules: he will lie, sir, with
such volubility, that you would think truth were a
fool: drunkenness is his best virtue, for he will
be swine-drunk; and in his sleep he does little
harm, save to his bed-clothes about him; but they
know his conditions and lay him in straw. I have but
little more to say, sir, of his honesty: he has
every thing that an honest man should not have; what
an honest man should have, he has nothing.

Antony and Cleopatra
[II, 5]
Should I lie, madam?

Antony and Cleopatra
[V, 2]
You lie, up to the hearing of the gods.

As You Like It
[III, 2]
Me believe it! You may as soon make her that you love
believe it; which, I warrant, she is apter to do than to confess
she does. That is one of the points in the which women still give
the lie to their consciences. But, in good sooth, are you he that
hangs the verses on the trees wherein Rosalind is so admired?
As You Like It
[III, 5]
I would not be thy executioner;
I fly thee, for I would not injure thee.
Thou tell’st me there is murder in mine eye.
‘Tis pretty, sure, and very probable,
That eyes, that are the frail’st and softest things,
Who shut their coward gates on atomies,
Should be call’d tyrants, butchers, murderers!
Now I do frown on thee with all my heart;
And if mine eyes can wound, now let them kill thee.
Now counterfeit to swoon; why, now fall down;
Or, if thou canst not, O, for shame, for shame,
Lie not, to say mine eyes are murderers.
Now show the wound mine eye hath made in thee.
Scratch thee but with a pin, and there remains
Some scar of it; lean upon a rush,
The cicatrice and capable impressure
Thy palm some moment keeps; but now mine eyes,
Which I have darted at thee, hurt thee not;
Nor, I am sure, there is not force in eyes
That can do hurt.

Touchstone + Jacques have a wonderful dialogue about giving the lie.

[II, 1]
Menenius Agrippa
I am known to be a humorous patrician, and one that
loves a cup of hot wine with not a drop of allaying
Tiber in’t; said to be something imperfect in
favouring the first complaint; hasty and tinder-like
upon too trivial motion; one that converses more
with the buttock of the night than with the forehead
of the morning: what I think I utter, and spend my
malice in my breath. Meeting two such wealsmen as
you are—I cannot call you Lycurguses—if the drink
you give me touch my palate adversely, I make a
crooked face at it. I can’t say your worships have
delivered the matter well, when I find the ass in
compound with the major part of your syllables: and
though I must be content to bear with those that say
you are reverend grave men, yet they lie deadly that
tell you you have good faces. If you see this in
the map of my microcosm, follows it that I am known
well enough too? what barm can your bisson
conspectuities glean out of this character, if I be
known well enough too?

[II, 2]
Second Officer
He hath deserved worthily of his country: and his
ascent is not by such easy degrees as those who,
having been supple and courteous to the people,
bonneted, without any further deed to have them at
an into their estimation and report: but he hath so
planted his honours in their eyes, and his actions
in their hearts, that for their tongues to be
silent, and not confess so much, were a kind of
ingrateful injury; to report otherwise, were a
malice, that, giving itself the lie, would pluck
reproof and rebuke from every ear that heard it.
[III, 2]
Must I go show them my unbarbed sconce?
Must I with base tongue give my noble heart
A lie that it must bear? Well, I will do’t:
Yet, were there but this single plot to lose,
This mould of CORIOLANUS, they to dust should grind it
And throw’t against the wind. To the market-place!
You have put me now to such a part which never
I shall discharge to the life.
[IV, 6]
Junius Brutus
Let’s to the Capitol. Would half my wealth
Would buy this for a lie!
[V, 2]
First Senator
Faith, sir, if you had told as many lies in his
behalf as you have uttered words in your own, you
should not pass here; no, though it were as virtuous
to lie as to live chastely. Therefore, go back.
[V, 6]
Measureless liar, thou hast made my heart
Too great for what contains it. Boy! O slave!
Pardon me, lords, ’tis the first time that ever
I was forced to scold. Your judgments, my grave lords,
Must give this cur the lie: and his own notion—
Who wears my stripes impress’d upon him; that
Must bear my beating to his grave—shall join
To thrust the lie unto him.

[II, 4]
Posthumus Leonatus
No swearing.
If you will swear you have not done’t, you lie;
And I will kill thee, if thou dost deny
Thou’st made me cuckold.
[III, 6]
I see a man’s life is a tedious one:
I have tired myself, and for two nights together
Have made the ground my bed. I should be sick,
But that my resolution helps me. Milford,
When from the mountain-top Pisanio show’d thee,
Thou wast within a ken: O Jove! I think
Foundations fly the wretched; such, I mean,
Where they should be relieved. Two beggars told me
I could not miss my way: will poor folks lie,
That have afflictions on them, knowing ’tis
A punishment or trial? Yes; no wonder,
When rich ones scarce tell true. To lapse in fulness
Is sorer than to lie for need, and falsehood
Is worse in kings than beggars. My dear lord!
Thou art one o’ the false ones. Now I think on thee,
My hunger’s gone; but even before, I was
At point to sink for food. But what is this?
Here is a path to’t: ’tis some savage hold:
I were best not to call; I dare not call:
yet famine,
Ere clean it o’erthrow nature, makes it valiant,
Plenty and peace breeds cowards: hardness ever
Of hardiness is mother. Ho! who’s here?
If any thing that’s civil, speak; if savage,
Take or lend. Ho! No answer? Then I’ll enter.
Best draw my sword: and if mine enemy
But fear the sword like me, he’ll scarcely look on’t.
Such a foe, good heavens!
[IV, 2]
I cannot sing: I’ll weep, and word it with thee;
For notes of sorrow out of tune are worse
Than priests and fanes that lie.
[IV, 2]
Richard du Champ.
If I do lie and do
No harm by it, though the gods hear, I hope
They’ll pardon it.—Say you, sir?
[V, 5]
Posthumus Leonatus
Shall’s have a play of this? Thou scornful page,
There lie thy part.

HAMLET Now I am alone

[V, 1]
First Clown
You lie out on’t, sir, and therefore ’tis not yours.
For my part, I do not lie in’t, yet it is mine.
59 Hamlet
[V, 1]
Thou dost lie in’t, to be in’t and say it is thine. ‘Tis for
the dead, not for the quick; therefore thou liest.
60 Hamlet
[V, 1]
First Clown
‘Tis a quick lie, sir; ’twill away again from me to you.
61 Hamlet
[V, 1]
How long will a man lie i’ th’ earth ere he rot?

Henry IV, Part I
[II, 1]
What talkest thou to me of the hangman? if I hang,
I’ll make a fat pair of gallows; for if I hang, old
Sir John hangs with me, and thou knowest he is no
starveling. Tut! there are other Trojans that thou
dreamest not of, the which for sport sake are
content to do the profession some grace; that would,
if matters should be looked into, for their own
credit sake, make all whole. I am joined with no
foot-land rakers, no long-staff sixpenny strikers,
none of these mad mustachio purple-hued malt-worms;
but with nobility and tranquillity, burgomasters and
great oneyers, such as can hold in, such as will
strike sooner than speak, and speak sooner than
drink, and drink sooner than pray: and yet, zounds,
I lie; for they pray continually to their saint, the
commonwealth; or rather, not pray to her, but prey
on her, for they ride up and down on her and make
her their boots.
Henry IV, Part I
[II, 2]
You lie, ye rogue; ’tis going to the king’s tavern.
Henry IV, Part I
[II, 3]
Hotspur (Henry Percy)
‘But for mine own part, my lord, I could be well
contented to be there, in respect of the love I bear
your house.’ He could be contented: why is he not,
then? In respect of the love he bears our house:
he shows in this, he loves his own barn better than
he loves our house. Let me see some more. ‘The
purpose you undertake is dangerous;’—why, that’s
certain: ’tis dangerous to take a cold, to sleep, to
drink; but I tell you, my lord fool, out of this
nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety. ‘The
purpose you undertake is dangerous; the friends you
have named uncertain; the time itself unsorted; and
your whole plot too light for the counterpoise of so
great an opposition.’ Say you so, say you so? I say
unto you again, you are a shallow cowardly hind, and
you lie. What a lack-brain is this! By the Lord,
our plot is a good plot as ever was laid; our
friends true and constant: a good plot, good
friends, and full of expectation; an excellent plot,
very good friends. What a frosty-spirited rogue is
this! Why, my lord of York commends the plot and the
general course of action. ‘Zounds, an I were now by
this rascal, I could brain him with his lady’s fan.
Is there not my father, my uncle and myself? lord
Edmund Mortimer, My lord of York and Owen Glendower?
is there not besides the Douglas? have I not all
their letters to meet me in arms by the ninth of the
next month? and are they not some of them set
forward already? What a pagan rascal is this! an
infidel! Ha! you shall see now in very sincerity
of fear and cold heart, will he to the king and lay
open all our proceedings. O, I could divide myself
and go to buffets, for moving such a dish of
skim milk with so honourable an action! Hang him!
let him tell the king: we are prepared. I will set
forward to-night.
How now, Kate! I must leave you within these two hours.

Henry IV, Part I
[II, 4]
Nay, that’s past praying for: I have peppered two
of them; two I am sure I have paid, two rogues
in buckram suits. I tell thee what, Hal, if I tell
thee a lie, spit in my face, call me horse. Thou
knowest my old ward; here I lay and thus I bore my
point. Four rogues in buckram let drive at me—
Henry IV, Part I
[III, 3]
Ye lie, hostess: Bardolph was shaved and lost many
a hair; and I’ll be sworn my pocket was picked. Go
to, you are a woman, go.
Henry IV, Part I
[V, 4]
[Rising up] Embowelled! if thou embowel me to-day,
I’ll give you leave to powder me and eat me too
to-morrow. ‘Sblood,’twas time to counterfeit, or
that hot termagant Scot had paid me scot and lot too.
Counterfeit? I lie, I am no counterfeit: to die,
is to be a counterfeit; for he is but the
counterfeit of a man who hath not the life of a man:
but to counterfeit dying, when a man thereby
liveth, is to be no counterfeit, but the true and
perfect image of life indeed. The better part of
valour is discretion; in the which better part I
have saved my life.’Zounds, I am afraid of this
gunpowder Percy, though he be dead: how, if he
should counterfeit too and rise? by my faith, I am
afraid he would prove the better counterfeit.
Therefore I’ll make him sure; yea, and I’ll swear I
killed him. Why may not he rise as well as I?
Nothing confutes me but eyes, and nobody sees me.
Therefore, sirrah,
[Stabbing him]
with a new wound in your thigh, come you along with me.
Henry IV, Part I
[V, 4]
Henry V
This is the strangest fellow, brother John.
Come, bring your luggage nobly on your back:
For my part, if a lie may do thee grace,
I’ll gild it with the happiest terms I have.
[A retreat is sounded]
The trumpet sounds retreat; the day is ours.
Come, brother, let us to the highest of the field,
To see what friends are living, who are dead.
Henry IV, Part II
[III, 2]
Fare you well, gentle gentlemen. [Exeunt JUSTICES] On,
Bardolph; lead the men away. [Exeunt all but FALSTAFF] As I
return, I will fetch off these justices. I do see the bottom of
justice Shallow. Lord, Lord, how subject we old men are to this
vice of lying! This same starv’d justice hath done nothing but
prate to me of the wildness of his youth and the feats he hath
done about Turnbull Street; and every third word a lie, duer paid
to the hearer than the Turk’s tribute. I do remember him at
Clement’s Inn, like a man made after supper of a cheese-paring.
When ‘a was naked, he was for all the world like a fork’d radish,
with a head fantastically carved upon it with a knife. ‘A was so
forlorn that his dimensions to any thick sight were invisible. ‘A
was the very genius of famine; yet lecherous as a monkey, and the
whores call’d him mandrake. ‘A came ever in the rearward of the
fashion, and sung those tunes to the overscutch’d huswifes that
he heard the carmen whistle, and sware they were his fancies or
his good-nights. And now is this Vice’s dagger become a squire,
and talks as familiarly of John a Gaunt as if he had been sworn
brother to him; and I’ll be sworn ‘a ne’er saw him but once in
the Tiltyard; and then he burst his head for crowding among the
marshal’s men. I saw it, and told John a Gaunt he beat his own
name; for you might have thrust him and all his apparel into an
eel-skin; the case of a treble hautboy was a mansion for him, a
court—and now has he land and beeves. Well, I’ll be acquainted
with him if I return; and ‘t shall go hard but I’ll make him a
philosopher’s two stones to me. If the young dace be a bait for
the old pike, I see no reason in the law of nature but I may snap
at him. Let time shape, and there an end. Exit
Henry IV, Part II
[V, 1]
I’ll follow you, good Master Robert Shallow.
[Exit SHALLOW] Bardolph, look to our horses. [Exeunt
and PAGE] If I were sawed into quantities, I should make
dozen of such bearded hermits’ staves as Master Shallow. It
wonderful thing to see the semblable coherence of his men’s
spirits and his. They, by observing of him, do bear
like foolish justices: he, by conversing with them, is turned
into a justice-like serving-man. Their spirits are so married
conjunction with the participation of society that they flock
together in consent, like so many wild geese. If I had a suit
Master Shallow, I would humour his men with the imputation of
being near their master; if to his men, I would curry with
Shallow that no man could better command his servants. It is
certain that either wise bearing or ignorant carriage is
as men take diseases, one of another; therefore let men take
of their company. I will devise matter enough out of this
to keep Prince Harry in continual laughter the wearing out of
fashions, which is four terms, or two actions; and ‘a shall
without intervallums. O, it is much that a lie with a slight
oath, and a jest with a sad brow will do with a fellow that
had the ache in his shoulders! O, you shall see him laugh
his face be like a wet cloak ill laid up!
Henry IV, Part II
[V, 4]
Doll Tearsheet
Nut-hook, nut-hook, you lie. Come on; I’ll tell thee what,
thou damn’d tripe-visag’d rascal, an the child I now go with do
miscarry, thou wert better thou hadst struck thy mother, thou
paper-fac’d villain.

Henry V
[IV, 8]
That’s a lie in thy throat. I charge you in his
majesty’s name, apprehend him: he’s a friend of the
Duke Alencon’s.

Henry VIII
[IV, 2]
Queen Katharine
In which I have commended to his goodness
The model of our chaste loves, his young daughter;
The dews of heaven fall thick in blessings on her!
Beseeching him to give her virtuous breeding—
She is young, and of a noble modest nature,
I hope she will deserve well,—and a little
To love her for her mother’s sake, that loved him,
Heaven knows how dearly. My next poor petition
Is, that his noble grace would have some pity
Upon my wretched women, that so long
Have follow’d both my fortunes faithfully:
Of which there is not one, I dare avow,
And now I should not lie, but will deserve
For virtue and true beauty of the soul,
For honesty and decent carriage,
A right good husband, let him be a noble
And, sure, those men are happy that shall have ‘em.
The last is, for my men; they are the poorest,
But poverty could never draw ‘em from me;
That they may have their wages duly paid ‘em,
And something over to remember me by:
If heaven had pleased to have given me longer life
And able means, we had not parted thus.
These are the whole contents: and, good my lord,
By that you love the dearest in this world,
As you wish Christian peace to souls departed,
Stand these poor people’s friend, and urge the king
To do me this last right.

Julius Caesar
[II, 2]
Shall Caesar send a lie?
Have I in conquest stretch’d mine arm so far,
To be afraid to tell graybeards the truth?
Decius, go tell them Caesar will not come.

King John
[V, 2]
Philip the Bastard
By all the blood that ever fury breathed,
The youth says well. Now hear our English king;
For thus his royalty doth speak in me.
He is prepared, and reason too he should:
This apish and unmannerly approach,
This harness’d masque and unadvised revel,
This unhair’d sauciness and boyish troops,
The king doth smile at; and is well prepared
To whip this dwarfish war, these pigmy arms,
From out the circle of his territories.
That hand which had the strength, even at your door,
To cudgel you and make you take the hatch,
To dive like buckets in concealed wells,
To crouch in litter of your stable planks,
To lie like pawns lock’d up in chests and trunks,
To hug with swine, to seek sweet safety out
In vaults and prisons, and to thrill and shake
Even at the crying of your nation’s crow,
Thinking his voice an armed Englishman;
Shall that victorious hand be feebled here,
That in your chambers gave you chastisement?
No: know the gallant monarch is in arms
And like an eagle o’er his aery towers,
To souse annoyance that comes near his nest.
And you degenerate, you ingrate revolts,
You bloody Neroes, ripping up the womb
Of your dear mother England, blush for shame;
For your own ladies and pale-visaged maids
Like Amazons come tripping after drums,
Their thimbles into armed gauntlets change,
Their needles to lances, and their gentle hearts
To fierce and bloody inclination.

King Lear
[I, 4]
I have us’d it, nuncle, ever since thou mad’st thy daughters
thy mother; for when thou gav’st them the rod, and put’st down
thine own breeches,
[Sings] Then they for sudden joy did weep,
And I for sorrow sung,
That such a king should play bo-peep
And go the fools among.
Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach thy fool to
lie. I would fain learn to lie.
129 King Lear
[I, 4]
An you lie, sirrah, we’ll have you whipp’d.
King Lear
[V, 3]
In wisdom I should ask thy name;
But since thy outside looks so fair and warlike,
And that thy tongue some say of breeding breathes,
What safe and nicely I might well delay
By rule of knighthood, I disdain and spurn.
Back do I toss those treasons to thy head;
With the hell-hated lie o’erwhelm thy heart;
Which- for they yet glance by and scarcely bruise-
This sword of mine shall give them instant way
Where they shall rest for ever. Trumpets, speak!

Love’s Labour’s Lost
[I, 1]
Ay, that there is. Our court, you know, is haunted
With a refined traveller of Spain;
A man in all the world’s new fashion planted,
That hath a mint of phrases in his brain;
One whom the music of his own vain tongue
Doth ravish like enchanting harmony;
A man of complements, whom right and wrong
Have chose as umpire of their mutiny:
This child of fancy, that Armado hight,
For interim to our studies shall relate
In high-born words the worth of many a knight
From tawny Spain lost in the world’s debate.
How you delight, my lords, I know not, I;
But, I protest, I love to hear him lie
And I will use him for my minstrelsy.
Love’s Labour’s Lost
[II, 1]
But to speak that in words which his eye hath
I only have made a mouth of his eye,
By adding a tongue which I know will not lie.
Love’s Labour’s Lost
[IV, 3]
The king he is hunting the deer; I am coursing
myself: they have pitched a toil; I am toiling in
a pitch,—pitch that defiles: defile! a foul
word. Well, set thee down, sorrow! for so they say
the fool said, and so say I, and I the fool: well
proved, wit! By the Lord, this love is as mad as
Ajax: it kills sheep; it kills me, I a sheep:
well proved again o’ my side! I will not love: if
I do, hang me; i’ faith, I will not. O, but her
eye,—by this light, but for her eye, I would not
love her; yes, for her two eyes. Well, I do nothing
in the world but lie, and lie in my throat. By
heaven, I do love: and it hath taught me to rhyme
and to be melancholy; and here is part of my rhyme,
and here my melancholy. Well, she hath one o’ my
sonnets already: the clown bore it, the fool sent
it, and the lady hath it: sweet clown, sweeter
fool, sweetest lady! By the world, I would not care
a pin, if the other three were in. Here comes one
with a paper: God give him grace to groan!
Love’s Labour’s Lost
[V, 2]
You lie, you are not he.

[II, 3]
Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and
urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes;
it provokes the desire, but it takes
away the performance: therefore, much drink
may be said to be an equivocator with lechery:
it makes him, and it mars him; it sets
him on, and it takes him off; it persuades him,
and disheartens him; makes him stand to, and
not stand to; in conclusion, equivocates him
in a sleep, and, giving him the lie, leaves him.
[II, 3]
I believe drink gave thee the lie last night.
145 Macbeth
[II, 3]
That it did, sir, i’ the very throat on
me: but I requited him for his lie; and, I
think, being too strong for him, though he took
up my legs sometime, yet I made a shift to cast
146 Macbeth
[III, 1]
First Murderer
And I another
So weary with disasters, tugg’d with fortune,
That I would set my lie on any chance,
To mend it, or be rid on’t.
147 Macbeth
[III, 2]
We have scotch’d the snake, not kill’d it:
She’ll close and be herself, whilst our poor malice
Remains in danger of her former tooth.
But let the frame of things disjoint, both the
worlds suffer,
Ere we will eat our meal in fear and sleep
In the affliction of these terrible dreams
That shake us nightly: better be with the dead,
Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace,
Than on the torture of the mind to lie
In restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave;
After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well;
Treason has done his worst: nor steel, nor poison,
Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing,
Can touch him further.
148 Macbeth
[IV, 2]
And must they all be hanged that swear and lie?
[V, 7]
Young Siward
Thou liest, abhorred tyrant; with my sword
I’ll prove the lie thou speak’st.

Merchant of Venice
[V, 1]
If I could add a lie unto a fault,
I would deny it; but you see my finger
Hath not the ring upon it; it is gone.

Merry Wives of Windsor
[I, 1]
Sir Hugh Evans
Shall I tell you a lie? I do despise a liar as I do
despise one that is false, or as I despise one that
is not true. The knight, Sir John, is there; and, I
beseech you, be ruled by your well-willers. I will
peat the door for Master Page.
What, hoa! Got pless your house here!
Merry Wives of Windsor
[III, 5]
Master Brook, I will not lie to you: I was at her
house the hour she appointed me.

Midsummer Night’s Dream
[II, 2]
O, take the sense, sweet, of my innocence!
Love takes the meaning in love’s conference.
I mean, that my heart unto yours is knit
So that but one heart we can make of it;
Two bosoms interchained with an oath;
So then two bosoms and a single troth.
Then by your side no bed-room me deny;
For lying so, Hermia, I do not lie.
Midsummer Night’s Dream
[II, 2]
Lysander riddles very prettily:
Now much beshrew my manners and my pride,
If Hermia meant to say Lysander lied.
But, gentle friend, for love and courtesy
Lie further off; in human modesty,
Such separation as may well be said
Becomes a virtuous bachelor and a maid,
So far be distant; and, good night, sweet friend:
Thy love ne’er alter till thy sweet life end!
Midsummer Night’s Dream
[III, 1]
The finch, the sparrow and the lark,
The plain-song cuckoo gray,
Whose note full many a man doth mark,
And dares not answer nay;—
for, indeed, who would set his wit to so foolish
a bird? who would give a bird the lie, though he cry
‘cuckoo’ never so?

Much Ado about Nothing
[IV, 1]
Confirm’d, confirm’d! O, that is stronger made
Which was before barr’d up with ribs of iron!
Would the two princes lie, and Claudio lie,
Who loved her so, that, speaking of her foulness,
Wash’d it with tears? Hence from her! let her die.
Much Ado about Nothing
[IV, 1]
As strange as the thing I know not. It were as
possible for me to say I loved nothing so well as
you: but believe me not; and yet I lie not; I
confess nothing, nor I deny nothing. I am sorry for my cousin.
183 Much Ado about Nothing
[IV, 1]
Princes and counties! Surely, a princely testimony,
a goodly count, Count Comfect; a sweet gallant,
surely! O that I were a man for his sake! or that I
had any friend would be a man for my sake! But
manhood is melted into courtesies, valour into
compliment, and men are only turned into tongue, and
trim ones too: he is now as valiant as Hercules
that only tells a lie and swears it.

[III, 3]
Why, why is this?
Think’st thou I’ld make a lie of jealousy,
To follow still the changes of the moon
With fresh suspicions? No; to be once in doubt
Is once to be resolved: exchange me for a goat,
When I shall turn the business of my soul
To such exsufflicate and blown surmises,
Matching thy inference. ‘Tis not to make me jealous
To say my wife is fair, feeds well, loves company,
Is free of speech, sings, plays and dances well;
Where virtue is, these are more virtuous:
Nor from mine own weak merits will I draw
The smallest fear or doubt of her revolt;
For she had eyes, and chose me. No, Iago;
I’ll see before I doubt; when I doubt, prove;
And on the proof, there is no more but this,—
Away at once with love or jealousy!
[III, 4]
To tell you where he lodges, is to tell you where I lie.
188 Othello
[III, 4]
I know not where he lodges, and for me to devise a
lodging and say he lies here or he lies there, were
to lie in mine own throat.
189 Othello
[IV, 1]
Lie with her! lie on her! We say lie on her, when
they belie her. Lie with her! that’s fulsome.
confess, and be hanged for his labour;—first, to be
hanged, and then to confess.—I tremble at it.
Nature would not invest herself in such shadowing
passion without some instruction. It is not words
that shake me thus. Pish! Noses, ears, and lips.
—Is’t possible?—Confess—handkerchief!—O devil!—
[V, 2]
You told a lie, an odious, damned lie;
Upon my soul, a lie, a wicked lie.
She false with Cassio!—did you say with Cassio?

Passionate Pilgrim
When my love swears that she is made of truth,
I do believe her, though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutor’d youth,
Unskilful in the world’s false forgeries.
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although I know my years be past the best,
I smiling credit her false-speaking tongue,
Outfacing faults in love with love’s ill rest.
But wherefore says my love that she is young?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
O, love’s best habit is a soothing tongue,
And age, in love, loves not to have years told.
Therefore I’ll lie with love, and love with me,
Since that our faults in love thus smother’d be.

[I, 1]
How courtesy would seem to cover sin,
When what is done is like an hypocrite,
The which is good in nothing but in sight!
If it be true that I interpret false,
Then were it certain you were not so bad
As with foul incest to abuse your soul;
Where now you’re both a father and a son,
By your untimely claspings with your child,
Which pleasure fits an husband, not a father;
And she an eater of her mother’s flesh,
By the defiling of her parent’s bed;
And both like serpents are, who though they feed
On sweetest flowers, yet they poison breed.
Antioch, farewell! for wisdom sees, those men
Blush not in actions blacker than the night,
Will shun no course to keep them from the light.
One sin, I know, another doth provoke;
Murder’s as near to lust as flame to smoke:
Poison and treason are the hands of sin,
Ay, and the targets, to put off the shame:
Then, lest my lie be cropp’d to keep you clear,
By flight I’ll shun the danger which I fear.
[II, 5]
Even in his throat—unless it be the king—
That calls me traitor, I return the lie.

Richard II
[I, 1]
Thomas Mowbray
Let not my cold words here accuse my zeal:
‘Tis not the trial of a woman’s war,
The bitter clamour of two eager tongues,
Can arbitrate this cause betwixt us twain;
The blood is hot that must be cool’d for this:
Yet can I not of such tame patience boast
As to be hush’d and nought at all to say:
First, the fair reverence of your highness curbs me
From giving reins and spurs to my free speech;
Which else would post until it had return’d
These terms of treason doubled down his throat.
Setting aside his high blood’s royalty,
And let him be no kinsman to my liege,
I do defy him, and I spit at him;
Call him a slanderous coward and a villain:
Which to maintain I would allow him odds,
And meet him, were I tied to run afoot
Even to the frozen ridges of the Alps,
Or any other ground inhabitable,
Where ever Englishman durst set his foot.
Mean time let this defend my loyalty,
By all my hopes, most falsely doth he lie.
Richard II
[I, 1]
Thomas Mowbray
Then, Bolingbroke, as low as to thy heart,
Through the false passage of thy throat, thou liest.
Three parts of that receipt I had for Calais
Disbursed I duly to his highness’ soldiers;
The other part reserved I by consent,
For that my sovereign liege was in my debt
Upon remainder of a dear account,
Since last I went to France to fetch his queen:
Now swallow down that lie. For Gloucester’s death,
I slew him not; but to my own disgrace
Neglected my sworn duty in that case.
For you, my noble Lord of Lancaster,
The honourable father to my foe
Once did I lay an ambush for your life,
A trespass that doth vex my grieved soul
But ere I last received the sacrament
I did confess it, and exactly begg’d
Your grace’s pardon, and I hope I had it.
This is my fault: as for the rest appeall’d,
It issues from the rancour of a villain,
A recreant and most degenerate traitor
Which in myself I boldly will defend;
And interchangeably hurl down my gage
Upon this overweening traitor’s foot,
To prove myself a loyal gentleman
Even in the best blood chamber’d in his bosom.
In haste whereof, most heartily I pray
Your highness to assign our trial day.
Richard II
[III, 2]
King Richard II
Needs must I like it well: I weep for joy
To stand upon my kingdom once again.
Dear earth, I do salute thee with my hand,
Though rebels wound thee with their horses’ hoofs:
As a long-parted mother with her child
Plays fondly with her tears and smiles in meeting,
So, weeping, smiling, greet I thee, my earth,
And do thee favours with my royal hands.
Feed not thy sovereign’s foe, my gentle earth,
Nor with thy sweets comfort his ravenous sense;
But let thy spiders, that suck up thy venom,
And heavy-gaited toads lie in their way,
Doing annoyance to the treacherous feet
Which with usurping steps do trample thee:
Yield stinging nettles to mine enemies;
And when they from thy bosom pluck a flower,
Guard it, I pray thee, with a lurking adder
Whose double tongue may with a mortal touch
Throw death upon thy sovereign’s enemies.
Mock not my senseless conjuration, lords:
This earth shall have a feeling and these stones
Prove armed soldiers, ere her native king
Shall falter under foul rebellion’s arms.
Richard II
[IV, 1]
Duke of Surrey
Dishonourable boy!
That lie shall lie so heavy on my sword,
That it shall render vengeance and revenge
Till thou the lie-giver and that lie do lie
In earth as quiet as thy father’s skull:
In proof whereof, there is my honour’s pawn;
Engage it to the trial, if thou darest.
Richard II
[IV, 1]
King Richard II
Ay, no; no, ay; for I must nothing be;
Therefore no no, for I resign to thee.
Now mark me, how I will undo myself;
I give this heavy weight from off my head
And this unwieldy sceptre from my hand,
The pride of kingly sway from out my heart;
With mine own tears I wash away my balm,
With mine own hands I give away my crown,
With mine own tongue deny my sacred state,
With mine own breath release all duty’s rites:
All pomp and majesty I do forswear;
My manors, rents, revenues I forego;
My acts, decrees, and statutes I deny:
God pardon all oaths that are broke to me!
God keep all vows unbroke that swear to thee!
Make me, that nothing have, with nothing grieved,
And thou with all pleased, that hast all achieved!
Long mayst thou live in Richard’s seat to sit,
And soon lie Richard in an earthly pit!
God save King Harry, unking’d Richard says,
And send him many years of sunshine days!
What more remains?

Richard III
[IV, 4]
Queen Elizabeth
But how long fairly shall her sweet lie last?
Richard III
[V, 3]
Richard III
Give me another horse: bind up my wounds.
Have mercy, Jesu!—Soft! I did but dream.
O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me!
The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight.
Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.
What do I fear? myself? there’s none else by:
Richard loves Richard; that is, I am I.
Is there a murderer here? No. Yes, I am:
Then fly. What, from myself? Great reason why:
Lest I revenge. What, myself upon myself?
Alack. I love myself. Wherefore? for any good
That I myself have done unto myself?
O, no! alas, I rather hate myself
For hateful deeds committed by myself!
I am a villain: yet I lie. I am not.
Fool, of thyself speak well: fool, do not flatter.
My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,
And every tongue brings in a several tale,
And every tale condemns me for a villain.
Perjury, perjury, in the high’st degree
Murder, stem murder, in the direst degree;
All several sins, all used in each degree,
Throng to the bar, crying all, Guilty! guilty!
I shall despair. There is no creature loves me;
And if I die, no soul shall pity me:
Nay, wherefore should they, since that I myself
Find in myself no pity to myself?
Methought the souls of all that I had murder’d
Came to my tent; and every one did threat
To-morrow’s vengeance on the head of Richard.

Romeo and Juliet
[I, 1]
You lie.
Romeo and Juliet
[II, 0]
Now old desire doth in his death-bed lie,
And young affection gapes to be his heir;
That fair for which love groan’d for and would die,
With tender Juliet match’d, is now not fair.
Now Romeo is beloved and loves again,
Alike betwitched by the charm of looks,
But to his foe supposed he must complain,
And she steal love’s sweet bait from fearful hooks:
Being held a foe, he may not have access
To breathe such vows as lovers use to swear;
And she as much in love, her means much less
To meet her new-beloved any where:
But passion lends them power, time means, to meet
Tempering extremities with extreme sweet.

Sonnet 72, 115, 123, 138, 150, 152,

Taming of the Shrew
[II, 1]
You lie, in faith, for you are call’d plain Kate,
And bonny Kate, and sometimes Kate the curst;
But, Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom,
Kate of Kate Hall, my super-dainty Kate,
For dainties are all Kates, and therefore, Kate,
Take this of me, Kate of my consolation-
Hearing thy mildness prais’d in every town,
Thy virtues spoke of, and thy beauty sounded,
Yet not so deeply as to thee belongs,
Myself am mov’d to woo thee for my wife.
Taming of the Shrew
[III, 2]
‘Tis some odd humour pricks him to this fashion;
Yet oftentimes lie goes but mean-apparell’d.
Taming of the Shrew
[IV, 5]
Nay, then you lie; it is the blessed sun.

[I, 2]
I pray thee, mark me.
I, thus neglecting worldly ends, all dedicated
To closeness and the bettering of my mind
With that which, but by being so retired,
O’er-prized all popular rate, in my false brother
Awaked an evil nature; and my trust,
Like a good parent, did beget of him
A falsehood in its contrary as great
As my trust was; which had indeed no limit,
A confidence sans bound. He being thus lorded,
Not only with what my revenue yielded,
But what my power might else exact, like one
Who having into truth, by telling of it,
Made such a sinner of his memory,
To credit his own lie, he did believe
He was indeed the duke; out o’ the substitution
And executing the outward face of royalty,
With all prerogative: hence his ambition growing—
Dost thou hear?
[II, 1]
My master through his art foresees the danger
That you, his friend, are in; and sends me forth—
For else his project dies—to keep them living.
[Sings in GONZALO's ear]
While you here do snoring lie,
Open-eyed conspiracy
His time doth take.
If of life you keep a care,
Shake off slumber, and beware:
Awake, awake!
256 Tempest
[II, 2]
All the infections that the sun sucks up
From bogs, fens, flats, on Prosper fall and make him
By inch-meal a disease! His spirits hear me
And yet I needs must curse. But they’ll nor pinch,
Fright me with urchin—shows, pitch me i’ the mire,
Nor lead me, like a firebrand, in the dark
Out of my way, unless he bid ‘em; but
For every trifle are they set upon me;
Sometime like apes that mow and chatter at me
And after bite me, then like hedgehogs which
Lie tumbling in my barefoot way and mount
Their pricks at my footfall; sometime am I
All wound with adders who with cloven tongues
Do hiss me into madness.
Lo, now, lo!
Here comes a spirit of his, and to torment me
For bringing wood in slowly. I’ll fall flat;
Perchance he will not mind me.
257 Tempest
[III, 2]
Nor go neither; but you’ll lie like dogs and yet say
nothing neither.
258 Tempest
[III, 2]
Thou liest, most ignorant monster: I am in case to
justle a constable. Why, thou deboshed fish thou,
was there ever man a coward that hath drunk so much
sack as I to-day? Wilt thou tell a monstrous lie,
being but half a fish and half a monster?
259 Tempest
[III, 2]
Thou liest, thou jesting monkey, thou: I would my
valiant master would destroy thee! I do not lie.
260 Tempest
[III, 2]
Do I so? take thou that.
As you like this, give me the lie another time.
261 Tempest
[III, 2]
I did not give the lie. Out o’ your
wits and bearing too? A pox o’ your bottle!
this can sack and drinking do. A murrain on
your monster, and the devil take your fingers!
262 Tempest
[III, 3]
I’ll believe both;
And what does else want credit, come to me,
And I’ll be sworn ’tis true: travellers ne’er did
Though fools at home condemn ‘em.
[V, 1]
Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves,
And ye that on the sands with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune and do fly him
When he comes back; you demi-puppets that
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make,
Whereof the ewe not bites, and you whose pastime
Is to make midnight mushrooms, that rejoice
To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid,
Weak masters though ye be, I have bedimm’d
The noontide sun, call’d forth the mutinous winds,
And ‘twixt the green sea and the azured vault
Set roaring war: to the dread rattling thunder
Have I given fire and rifted Jove’s stout oak
With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory
Have I made shake and by the spurs pluck’d up
The pine and cedar: graves at my command
Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let ‘em forth
By my so potent art. But this rough magic
I here abjure, and, when I have required
Some heavenly music, which even now I do,
To work mine end upon their senses that
This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I’ll drown my book.
[Solemn music]
[Re-enter ARIEL before: then ALONSO, with a]
frantic gesture, attended by GONZALO;
SEBASTIAN and ANTONIO in like manner,
attended by ADRIAN and FRANCISCO they all
enter the circle which PROSPERO had made,
and there stand charmed; which PROSPERO
observing, speaks:]
A solemn air and the best comforter
To an unsettled fancy cure thy brains,
Now useless, boil’d within thy skull! There stand,
For you are spell-stopp’d.
Holy Gonzalo, honourable man,
Mine eyes, even sociable to the show of thine,
Fall fellowly drops. The charm dissolves apace,
And as the morning steals upon the night,
Melting the darkness, so their rising senses
Begin to chase the ignorant fumes that mantle
Their clearer reason. O good Gonzalo,
My true preserver, and a loyal sir
To him you follow’st! I will pay thy graces
Home both in word and deed. Most cruelly
Didst thou, Alonso, use me and my daughter:
Thy brother was a furtherer in the act.
Thou art pinch’d fort now, Sebastian. Flesh and blood,
You, brother mine, that entertain’d ambition,
Expell’d remorse and nature; who, with Sebastian,
Whose inward pinches therefore are most strong,
Would here have kill’d your king; I do forgive thee,
Unnatural though thou art. Their understanding
Begins to swell, and the approaching tide
Will shortly fill the reasonable shore
That now lies foul and muddy. Not one of them
That yet looks on me, or would know me Ariel,
Fetch me the hat and rapier in my cell:
I will discase me, and myself present
As I was sometime Milan: quickly, spirit;
Thou shalt ere long be free.
[ARIEL sings and helps to attire him]
Where the bee sucks. there suck I:
In a cowslip’s bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat’s back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.

266 Timon of Athens
[I, 1]
Then I lie not.
Timon of Athens
[IV, 3]
This is in thee a nature but infected;
A poor unmanly melancholy sprung
From change of fortune. Why this spade? this place?
This slave-like habit? and these looks of care?
Thy flatterers yet wear silk, drink wine, lie soft;
Hug their diseased perfumes, and have forgot
That ever Timon was. Shame not these woods,
By putting on the cunning of a carper.
Be thou a flatterer now, and seek to thrive
By that which has undone thee: hinge thy knee,
And let his very breath, whom thou’lt observe,
Blow off thy cap; praise his most vicious strain,
And call it excellent: thou wast told thus;
Thou gavest thine ears like tapsters that bid welcome
To knaves and all approachers: ’tis most just
That thou turn rascal; hadst thou wealth again,
Rascals should have ‘t. Do not assume my likeness.
270 Timon of Athens
[IV, 3]
Rogue, rogue, rogue!
I am sick of this false world, and will love nought
But even the mere necessities upon ‘t.
Then, Timon, presently prepare thy grave;
Lie where the light foam the sea may beat
Thy grave-stone daily: make thine epitaph,
That death in me at others’ lives may laugh.
[To the gold]
O thou sweet king-killer, and dear divorce
‘Twixt natural son and sire! thou bright defiler
Of Hymen’s purest bed! thou valiant Mars!
Thou ever young, fresh, loved and delicate wooer,
Whose blush doth thaw the consecrated snow
That lies on Dian’s lap! thou visible god,
That solder’st close impossibilities,
And makest them kiss! that speak’st with
every tongue,
To every purpose! O thou touch of hearts!
Think, thy slave man rebels, and by thy virtue
Set them into confounding odds, that beasts
May have the world in empire!
Timon of Athens
[V, 4]
[Reads the epitaph] ‘Here lies a
wretched corse, of wretched soul bereft:
Seek not my name: a plague consume you wicked
caitiffs left!
Here lie I, Timon; who, alive, all living men did hate:
Pass by and curse thy fill, but pass and stay
not here thy gait.’
These well express in thee thy latter spirits:
Though thou abhorr’dst in us our human griefs,
Scorn’dst our brain’s flow and those our
droplets which
From niggard nature fall, yet rich conceit
Taught thee to make vast Neptune weep for aye
On thy low grave, on faults forgiven. Dead
Is noble Timon: of whose memory
Hereafter more. Bring me into your city,
And I will use the olive with my sword,
Make war breed peace, make peace stint war, make each
Prescribe to other as each other’s leech.
Let our drums strike.

Troilus and Cressida
[III, 2]
Hard to seem won: but I was won, my lord,
With the first glance that ever—pardon me—
If I confess much, you will play the tyrant.
I love you now; but not, till now, so much
But I might master it: in faith, I lie;
My thoughts were like unbridled children, grown
Too headstrong for their mother. See, we fools!
Why have I blabb’d? who shall be true to us,
When we are so unsecret to ourselves?
But, though I loved you well, I woo’d you not;
And yet, good faith, I wish’d myself a man,
Or that we women had men’s privilege
Of speaking first. Sweet, bid me hold my tongue,
For in this rapture I shall surely speak
The thing I shall repent. See, see, your silence,
Cunning in dumbness, from my weakness draws
My very soul of counsel! stop my mouth.
Troilus and Cressida
[III, 3]
Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back,
Wherein he puts alms for oblivion,
A great-sized monster of ingratitudes:
Those scraps are good deeds past; which are devour’d
As fast as they are made, forgot as soon
As done: perseverance, dear my lord,
Keeps honour bright: to have done is to hang
Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail
In monumental mockery. Take the instant way;
For honour travels in a strait so narrow,
Where one but goes abreast: keep then the path;
For emulation hath a thousand sons
That one by one pursue: if you give way,
Or hedge aside from the direct forthright,
Like to an enter’d tide, they all rush by
And leave you hindmost;
Or like a gallant horse fall’n in first rank,
Lie there for pavement to the abject rear,
O’er-run and trampled on: then what they do in present,
Though less than yours in past, must o’ertop yours;
For time is like a fashionable host
That slightly shakes his parting guest by the hand,
And with his arms outstretch’d, as he would fly,
Grasps in the comer: welcome ever smiles,
And farewell goes out sighing. O, let not
virtue seek
Remuneration for the thing it was;
For beauty, wit,
High birth, vigour of bone, desert in service,
Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all
To envious and calumniating time.
One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,
That all with one consent praise new-born gawds,
Though they are made and moulded of things past,
And give to dust that is a little gilt
More laud than gilt o’er-dusted.
The present eye praises the present object.
Then marvel not, thou great and complete man,
That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax;
Since things in motion sooner catch the eye
Than what not stirs. The cry went once on thee,
And still it might, and yet it may again,
If thou wouldst not entomb thyself alive
And case thy reputation in thy tent;
Whose glorious deeds, but in these fields of late,
Made emulous missions ‘mongst the gods themselves
And drave great Mars to faction.
Troilus and Cressida
[V, 2]
To make a recordation to my soul
Of every syllable that here was spoke.
But if I tell how these two did co-act,
Shall I not lie in publishing a truth?
Sith yet there is a credence in my heart,
An esperance so obstinately strong,
That doth invert the attest of eyes and ears,
As if those organs had deceptious functions,
Created only to calumniate.
Was Cressid here?

Twelfth Night
[II, 3]
Sir Toby, there you lie.
286 Twelfth Night
[II, 3]
Sir Toby Belch
Out o’ tune, sir: ye lie. Art any more than a
steward? Dost thou think, because thou art
virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?
Twelfth Night
[III, 2]
Sir Toby Belch
Go, write it in a martial hand; be curst and brief;
it is no matter how witty, so it be eloquent and fun
of invention: taunt him with the licence of ink:
if thou thou’st him some thrice, it shall not be
amiss; and as many lies as will lie in thy sheet of
paper, although the sheet were big enough for the
bed of Ware in England, set ‘em down: go, about it.
Let there be gall enough in thy ink, though thou
write with a goose-pen, no matter: about it.

Winter’s Tale
[I, 2]
It is; you lie, you lie:
I say thou liest, Camillo, and I hate thee,
Pronounce thee a gross lout, a mindless slave,
Or else a hovering temporizer, that
Canst with thine eyes at once see good and evil,
Inclining to them both: were my wife’s liver
Infected as her life, she would not live
The running of one glass.
Winter’s Tale
[IV, 4]
A lie; you are rough and hairy. Let me have no
lying: it becomes none but tradesmen, and they
often give us soldiers the lie: but we pay them for
it with stamped coin, not stabbing steel; therefore
they do not give us the lie.
310 Winter’s Tale
[V, 2]
You are well met, sir. You denied to fight with me
this other day, because I was no gentleman born.
See you these clothes? say you see them not and
think me still no gentleman born: you were best say
these robes are not gentlemen born: give me the
lie, do, and try whether I am not now a gentleman born.


Take 4 experts and 12 actors from the leading Dutch acting company, Toneel Groep AMsterdam. Add an alarm button to press if you want to interject. Tie it together with a funny master of ceremonies and voila! The Rabotheater was full and the promise of apples and beer onstage at the end kept us slavering.

Here are some hasty notes i made:

Shakespeare was een eenvoudige vent. Shakespeare was a simple guy. He dramatised our lives.

Ulysses speech about degree when talking about the cosmology of the Elizabethans.

Throw in some Richard 2nd laying on the ground and talking of Kings.

The Copernican versus the Ptolymean world views. Or does the sun revolve around the earth? Or the earth the sun?
The Church dictated the ancient view and scientific minds accepted in private the new. Bruno, Descartes, Huygens and Newton all represented the new.

Shakespeare lived in interesting times. The old world order was changing on all levels. Humoral psychology moved towards scientific investigation. Church and the divine right of Kings was being challenged by secular learning aided by the printing press and the growth of business and exploration. Money talks and influences power bases.

Niets is helemaal zeker. Zelfs dat niet.
Nothing is for certain. Not even that.

The City theatre or Schouwburg in Amsterdam dates from 1638. Before this rederijkers or rhetoricians met in an Academy of letters on the Keizersgracht from 1617-1637. Prior to this the same rederijkers had practiced their art since the late 15thC; wherever they could, in public space or on temporary podia.

The point is they were out there, and thinking and living and breathing on the pathos, weighing light on the ethos, if needs be to turn the logos, and spin the argument either and or both ways.

What’s being worshipped by rhetoricians? The swaying of hearts and minds through words. What greater example than Mark Antony’s oration to the crowd after Caesar’s assassination.

Rhetoric then is one aspect of early modern performance we cannot ignore. Rhetoric consists of
Pathos works on the emotions of the crowds
Ethos works on their sense of right and wrong
Logos works on the words and how we use them.

Nowadays rhetoric is still in full swing. We use it constantly in our TV shows and Films. Also politicians and religious institutions use it to justify their temporal power or heavenly sway.

here’s a pdf of rhetorical devices commonly used.

Identity viewed through the lenses of Benedick and Beatrice, Viola and Olivia.
Keats Negative capability. Harold Bloom’s thesis that Shakespeare caused the individual was mentioned too.
The mirroring of microcosm (person) and macrocosm (society, universe) too.

Shakespeare isn’t in his works, he has a capacity for vanishing.

All in all a good night out at the theatre worshipping the Bard. Wish you were here continues with nights on Ibsen, Bergman and Chekhov.

If you want to see hear and learn more about SHakespeare you could always attend one of our Shakespeare Karaoke evenings at the Badhuis theater. The difference being the audience gets to play too.

GUEST POST: DS's my long summer stateside sojourn

21 September

“That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang…”

The first lines of Sonnet 73 remind me that autumn is upon us, and my long summer stateside sojourn has come to an end. This last/past week in New York City, the Bard has been ever present in my thoughts by way of several literary and dramatic events that I was fortunate enough to attend.

On Saturday evening, the East Village Lit Crawl brought me to the stylish dungeon-like cellar of the Von Bar on Bleecker Street for three short readings and three long toasts under the title Literature and Libations. One of the three authors was John Reed, a New York novelist with whom I was not acquainted. His latest book, published in 2008, is “All the World’s a Grave: A New Play by William Shakespeare.”

Written in dramatic form, the story is constructed of lines drawn from Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies, but rearranged to tell a totally new tale. Prince Hamlet goes to war for Juliet, daughter of King Lear. Upon his triumphant return home he discovers his mother has murdered his father and married Macbeth. Enter Iago and General Romeo… Some forty years after Tom Stoppard shifted focus to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, something also done in comic form by W.S. Gilbert in 1874, such theatrical grave-digging has become commonplace. (How did I miss the 2009 vampire film Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead, featuring several reincarnations throughout history?)

However, on this occasion Read introduced the audience to newer material. In the last few years, inspired by the research for his book, he’s been writing a Sequence of Sonnets, a total of 60 so far. When he began, he primarily used the English sonnet structure as practiced by WS. But of late Reed has been exploring the earlier Italian forms. His Lit Crawl reading included tricky #20 (John John), one which employed the Elizabethan model:

John John automaton, born to never,
never learn. John John automaton, born
to never never learn. Born to ever
ever urn. Born to burn and born to scorn.

John John automaton, got nothing,
nothing, nothing done. John John automat,
nothing winning, always spinning spinning
spinning. John-a-folds his wrinkles flat.

John John automatic. Panic panic
panic panic. Needs to needs to needs to naught.
Needs machined, by house mechanic.
John-O-John, ought-to-John on auto ought.

Not John-o-ton. John John, not John-o-ton.
John John, not John-o-ton. John John, not John

John Reed’s entire (and open-ended, so one can assume he is not yet finished) Sequence of Sonnets can be found on his website:

Three nights later I traveled uptown to Barnes & Noble on 82nd Street to hear another author I’d not heard of. Jaime Manrique is an award-winning gay Columbian novelist, poet and journalist who now lives in New York City. He writes in both Spanish and English and is most well-known for his memoir “Eminent Maricones: Arenas, Lorca, Puig, and Me.” His newest book is a historical novel based on the early life of Miguel de Cervantes. I knew Cervantes and Shakespeare were contemporaries, but didn’t realize they died within ten days of each other (in part why World Book Day is celebrated on 23 April.)

“Cervantes Street” draws heavily upon “Don Quixote,” considered the first modern novel in Western literature. And during his talk, Manrique cited WS as another important source of inspiration. In a note to the reader, he references “an homage to Shakespeare.” Yet to read it, I can’t be more specific. I will say this: on the way home I opened my personally signed copy on the subway and became so enthralled that I almost missed my stop.
For more:

“If I wanted to be master of my own destiny, and choose my path to manhood, my only two options were fame as a poet or glory as a soldier. To become the most famous poet and warrior of my time- now that was a worthy goal.” (from “Cervantes Street” by Jaime Manrique)

The following night, full-blooded poetry combined with bloodthirsty warriors to set the stage for an Encore presentation at the Soho Playhouse. “Pulp Shakespeare” is a wickedly clever mash-up, posing the question: What if the Bard had written Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 cult classic Pulp Fiction?

Director Jordan Monsell founded Her Majesty’s Most Secret Players in Los Angeles in 2011 “to bring a new slant on Shakespeare.” With their first outing they opted for a no holds barred, go for broke approach that won them Best of Fringe awards in both LA and, a year later, in NYC. On many levels, the successful pairing of WS with QT might be obvious. Much has been written about parallels between the two, and in interviews Tarantino has stated, tongue firmly in cheek, “I’ve always had a thought maybe that I might have been Shakespeare in another life.”

Both writers share a love of language/dialogue, often by using two-character scenes, or self-revealing monologues. Both share a taste for raw sexual tension and explicit violence. When push comes to shove, does it matter if a shotgun or a crossbow is aimed at a man’s groin? Much of the contemporary humor is perfectly suited to Elizabethan jests and jibes, like references to Amsterdam coffeeshops or the danger inherent in foot-rubs.

Perhaps needless to say, the better you know the film, the more you’ll enjoy the play. Aye, there’s the rub. I don’t remember seeing the film after its initial release, so I missed a lot that had diehard fans giggling with unbridled glee. Parody, even well-writ and expertly played, can grow wearisome over ninety minutes. But I’ve always held a fondness for Jacobean revenge tragedy, which “Pulp Shakespeare” most resembles. Interestingly, the play’s original title when first produced in 2009 at the Minnesota Fringe Festival (yes, Minnesota!) was “Bard Fiction.” It’s safe to assume Jordan Monsell’s deft direction and reshaping (he now shares a writing credit) improved more than the title.


Posted by David Swatling
New York City, 21 Septemeber 2012

Shakespeare a nutshell

…It all began with the internet. Just to be clear fb friends are people you interact with online and have never met in person.

A fb friend introduced me to another fb friend of hers. He joined my fb group page. There are several such in the group and I know, as far as one can know anything, that if we meet we will click. Shared interest in Shakespeare is enough but there’s more. There’s a difference towards the kooky the quirky the little bit out of the ordinary.

The first time you meet a fb friend in person you are familiar with much about their ideas and opinions from their timelines and comments. You accept or reject said such like a demi-god wantonly killing flies. But face to face is more than that. The social veneer, present or absent, will out.

D-day, june 6th, platform 14a Centraal Station, Amsterdam the TGV (trein grand vitesse) from Paris arrives. Out back of the station my partner in theatrical crime Michael M. waits in his vehicle. The package is in the pocket I phone to him. Mike loves silliness and has the attention span of oh look aaah, as the bishop said to the…

The package is actor Colin David Reese. The first person I see is a dutch actress who had cancelled doing his forthcoming workshop due to paid work, picking up some American friends. Then behind her surprised effusions I see a man in black with matching floppy hat bearing down on us. My actor. His first words after introductions assure me we’re on the right footing, can I smoke in the station or is there a fine?

Outside we pile him and his baggage into Mike’s car and head off to his bnb and then to the Badhuistheater, a former bath house. The evening is picture perfect Amsterdam summer as it’s meant to be. Thursday and friday Colin introduced about 9 actors to his method of approaching verse and prose. His technique being based on the cue scripts used by Jacobethan actors.

Sadly for this part of the exegesis I too had paid work at the Binger Filmlab under tutelage of Mark Travis. Meaning I pertinently will avoid any discussion of his method until I do it myself. Here for the curious is an outline:

The Workshop:

The workshop consists of 4 sessions over two days:
Two morning sessions of three hours and two afternoon sessions of four hours.
A maximum of 12 participants.
Each participant is requested to half prepare a verse monologue, NOT to learn it by heart. Soft shoes and track suits for the men and practice skirts for the women.
Participants are requested to bring a “Complete Works” and a note book and pencil.

Session 1
• Physical warm up (Lecoq techniques)
Aimed at each participant finding his or her weak and strong points in terms of tension; how tension is blocking corporal expression and how to release the morphology from inherent psychological detrimental memories.
• Breathing exercises.
Designed to develop the participant’s ability to augment their capacity and extension.
• First contact with the text.
Each participant reads their semi prepared monologue.

Session 2
• Movement analysis.
Working with the “pointe fixe” and equilibrium and disequilibrium.
How physicality affects characterisation. How to analyse movement, both one’s own and that of other people.
• Linking movement to breathing.
How breathing affects movement and vice versa.
• Verse analysis.
Explanation of Iambic pentameter and how Shakespeare exploits and deforms its structure, thus giving indications to the actor concerning interpretation and characterisation. Examples are taken from different plays, showing how the use of mid-line endings, end-stops, short lines (less than 5 feet), assonance, alliteration, and repetition are all used by the author to guide the actor, helping with character creation.

Overnight work
• Each participant will be asked to study their chosen monologue with regards to the verse analysis.

Session 3
• Warm up.
Guided, whilst giving each participant a chance to practice their own exercises.
Voice warm up and placement exercises.
Diction and articulation exercises.
• Presentation of monologues showing results from overnight work.
Criticism and direction from Mr. Reese inviting comments from the other participants.

Session 4
• Continuation of presentation of monologues.
Taking a short section from each monologue – committing it to memory, adding movement and breathing pattern to take it to a performance level.
• Sight reading Shakespeare. Using the verse techniques acquired, each participant will sight read an unfamiliar monologue or scene selected by Mr. Reese.

Judging by the reactions of the workshop participants his workshop cannot be highly recommended enough. And indeed as we search the web for cue scripts we find the Folger has developed a similar technique as have others. Certainly he will be back for those of us who missed out on it this time around.

So that’s what I didn’t experience. Shakespeare Unbound I did. And boy was I excited beforehand. An audience with John Heminges. ‘At last at last’ are his first words as he rushes onstage into to his dimly lit Jacobean study. The actor I met has been replaced by an old Elizabethan man who worked with SHakespeare and in his hands is a copy of the First Folio, hot from the presses. (speaking of which Heminges copy is nowhere extant right)?

Heminges realises he’s not alone and addresses his audience as the ghosts of the future. And whether they still know of Will? He questions them about their knowledge is of the plays or the poems. And whether they know any titles. I threw in Pericles knowing it didn’t make the FOlio and Heminges answered, while the actor rebalanced.

Shakespeare unbound is a collection of anecdotes from Sh’s life, from the travelling group that lost young Knell the impetuous actor in Oxford and picked up young ingenue Will Shakspere whilst travelling through Stratford in the mid 1580′s to the burning of the Globe in 1613. Interspersed with this necessarily shortened biography are readings from the Folio that illustrate some particular character trait of Heminge’s remembered Will.

As such we are treated to a veteran actor smoothly shifting gears from piece to piece. His method of running with the impulses of the verse gives plenty of scope for hearing the text like new. His physical skill in creating character is seamless and flawed. The subject matter is such that the I of the story is always being questioned. Sometimes Heminges was Reese, and Will through the text whatever he wanted Colin David Reese to want him to be. Or not to be. But that’s another question.

The next day Mike and I released the package to continue his journeys to chateaux and down under. Earlier that saturday afternoon I finally had a chance to brunch at Renzo’s with Colin to myself, and of course our knowledge of Will. Later at my apartment he glanced at my bookshelves and noted the same books as in his collection. And like him our prized possessions are our First Folio facsimiles that have been read and read again.

So our first fb shakespeare collaboration commenced and interluded, for a time will come when we meet again. Until then much thanks, and if you ever see this show Shakespeare Unbound in a theatre near you don’t hesitate to buy a ticket. The workshop likewise is perfect for Universities and colleges and drama schools. Or do what we did and use fb to do it.

Btw Colin what was that last quote you used?

All over the place...t

…all over the place and unfocused in between being focused and accomplishing the necessaries. Anarchy is big on my personal radar. Politically i’ve never defined myself, except as my behavior showed my politics. I am as fascist in my thinking as I am hippy. This was sometime a paradox, but if you ever witness’d two snarling scrapping hippies, my friend look to it! I have then a problem with authority. My own included.

Contrary to what you might think, my feelings may be part judge in this, that i am but mad north north west, when the wind blows southerly, i know a hawk from a hand shaw. Saw. Heron.

There is of course nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. An ironic dualism taunting its weaker partner into admitting its non-existence.

Remember I am but weak on sundays and in a rotting carcass maggots fill me to the brim. Haste make haste! Slow down, slow, slow down and speed up in a silly manner, flying your banner and waving it round and round.

Words, words, words. How pregnant sometimes his replies are? Though this be madness, yet there is method innit? Fortune plays a big part and a little part in Hamlet. I’d never noticed before how fortune gets used (yes she’s a slag. Used is right)! first by Hamlet with R+G in their greeting each other dialogue. If it live in your memory begin at this line. Let me see, let me see…

Good lads how do you both?
Ros: As the indifferent children of the earth.
Guil: Happy in that we are not over happy; on fortune’s cap we are not the very button.
Ham: Nor the soles of her shoe?
Ros: Neither, my lord.
Ham: Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her favors?
Guil: Faith her privates we.
Ham: in the secret parts of fortune? O most true she is a strumpet.

What news?
None my lord but that the world’s grown honest.

Then is doomsday near.
But your news is not true.

Let me question more in particular.
What have you my good friends deserved at the hands of Fortune, that she sends you to prison hither?

And again not much further along, Fortune as a strumpet returns. Is this why Hamlet gets the player to do this speech? Does he feel like the painted tyrant, poised and unable to move? Unable to find his vengeance at mincing limbs?

Out out thou strumpet fortune!

he cries and would break all her spokes and fellies from her wheel.

(let’s get ready to play, the wheel of fortune. Dumb show as Game show. Here’s the wonderful prizes. Get it yet Claudius)?

And on to the mobled Queen. That’s good, mobled Queen is good. Is this Gertrude’s part of the show? The realization of what battening on moors does to a person?

Who this had seen, with tongue in venom steep’d,
Gainst Fortune’s state would treason have pronounced
But if the gods themselves did see her then,
When she saw Pyrrhus make malicious sport
In mincing with his sword her husband’s limbs,
The instant burst of clamor that she made,
Unless things mortal move them not at all,
Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven,
And passion in the gods.

Gods or ghosts? Hamlet’s central problem? What a piece of work is a man. How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty and yet to me what is this?

Being nature’s livery, or fortune’s star.

Is this a social natural split or what? Clothed in nature’s livery? Or dressed by chance of birth? Hamlet the prince cannot fall into such disfavor being a prince that he should fall from his position in the firmament. Old Hamlet is trailing the Court like a ghostly comet. Remember me, old mole! More sightings than any episode of ghost hunters.

Young Hamlet examines his options and obligations and finds himself wanting in the doing power. Leading him to think on that which is to come but is most feared. Action. Anarchy. No other authority than himself. He had examples enough in common Renaissance mythology exhorting him to action. Yet like a Pyrrhus he takes a weak victory.

The player shows him how. Rosencrantz and Guildernstern awaken his slumbering wrath. Claudius and Gertrude hang around unsure as to who knows what. Unseen between the scenes, furtively copulating now legalised guilt sex behind the arrasses. Polonius runs and runs and plots his plots behind the plot. Ophelia rejected lies abed a sewing. Short sharp pricks.

And Hamlet?
Like a true liberal humanist, he puts on a play for the man that murdered his father. Hoping his terrors will implode or explode him as he watches forcing and publicly confessing his nefarious deeds. His mother stricken with self-loathing claims Hamlet rightful heir to the throne. Hamlet forgives them and they all live in a slightly less rotten Denmark.

Of course not. The consequences are tragically ineffectual and yet further the plot and minor characters mirror that plot. Polonius takes one for Claudius and the ghost. R+G get their come-uppance in England. (They don’t like it uppance, sir)! Ophelia defines true madness. Hamlet kills Claudius and Laertes, madrigals with Horatio thoughts on the demise of sparrows.
But this is yet to come. If it be now.

Claudius is miffed to put it mildly and Hamlet is convinced that this delusion that he has seen is not a delusion and madness is just a state of mind, so there. As by lot god’s wot, which is a lot. And so it came to pass. Look where my abridgment comes.

Form and Content in the sonnets of shakespeare

‘I must each day say o’er the same’

Touch lightly on each subject (Page) and drive through to the point (Stage).

Real Shakespeare is replicated human response to the rhythms inherent in the verse he composed out of linguistic necessity. (that’s as far as I want to go with Sh intentions thus avoiding Intentional Fallacy)! The Sonnets virtuosity stands a side-by-side test with any other Elizabethan scribbler, Noble or not, in terms of form and content.

Focus for a minute on the fact that the author was a poet in search of a patron like so many of his contemporary poetasters. Court patronage demanded a taste of your wares. A good narrative poem or two about a gory date-rape starring 2 popularly known mythological figures, or a rape by a lust-filled King might get you some credit and good standing as a poet.

This sonnet series I feel was a long-term project and perhaps undertaken whimsically. What the Italians knew as serio ludere serious playing. Certainly he created and worked on them from 1593 – 1608. (as early as 1588 if you follow Andrew Gurr with 145’s Hate-away pun).

We know nothing of how they were composed or delivered , except for two variants of 144 and 138 being printed in ‘The Passionate Pilgrim’ in 1599. Further that same year Francis Meres mentions Shakespeare’s sonnets to his private friends in Palladis Tamia.

We know not how they eventually transferred to the hands of Thomas Thorpe, who ‘staied’ them to be printed and looked to earn some money off them as he had numerous other collections. His nickname was Odd Thorpe and indeed his dedication to the sonnets is odd.

They were published in May, 1609. One batch was printed on the press of George Eld, two of whose compositors compiled the Quarto, from a copy, foul or fair, we cannot know which. They were titled, unusually for comparable series, with the author’s name and the subject at hand: Shake-speare’s Sonnets. Pericles came from the same press the same year.

Two printer/booksellers split the batch, William Aspley and William Wright, who we assume sold out. (Edward Alleyn made a note of paying a shilling for his copy). Thirteen copies are extant and jealously guarded, in libraries public and private,. The copies show few variations and in 1944 one scholar Hyder Rollins collated them.

I actually want to start with the idea that this quarto of 154 Sonnets and A Lover’s Complaint (I believe they belong together) was written by Anonymous.

The three-fold consequence of this is that:

1. the author’s biography,
2. the identities of the Fair Young Man and the Dark Lady, and who wrote the Dedication,
3. and most importantly, the Conspiracy theorists

are eliminated from requiring explication in one fell swoop.

Sexually their author was either hetero, homo, or bi. The persona is any one, or all three, the sonnets prove nothing of the author’s sexuality. Sexual he was, for he had offspring. Diseased , he may also have ended.

The other pronouns this persona invokes are aimed at establishing the persona’s state when in love. Fiction is too good for them, reality too prosaic. They exist, but only in the persona’s mind, and remember you are he. In fact the persona is really just blotches of ink from a printer’s press, twice perhaps thrice removed from their author.

The author will figure personally only as the agent necessary to creating the persona we judge or identify with as readers. So the author is the ‘I’ of the sonnets, and you are he, by reason of your eyes reading his poems. We are after poesy here not conspiracy.

Similarities of the arguments exist in the Sonnet tradition.
Follow the path of white magicians and trace it to Florio and Bruno.
Show the rage of sonnet series ended with a summing up threnody.
Explore Sonnet delivery as far as we know it.

We know EM Readers liked to interact with their texts. They would garner sententiae and exempla for their common-place books. So the author knew his work would be read and said.

I’m a reader not a writer. The author writes like Michelangelo sculpted and painted, or Mozart played piano (anachronism noted), and how Mike Tyson punched!

The sonnet is a true marriage of mind and soul distributed over form and content.

Each ideal Elizabethan sonnet is
a string of words, ideas, and sounds,
expressing an argument in 14 lines,
confined to a maximum of 154 syllables and a minimum of 140 syllables,
riming abab cdcd efef gg. (As usual there are exceptions).

Like the four steps of a combustion engine

Suck, Quatrain 1 a question or statement is posed.
(likes to jump right in, like the first lines of his plays)
squeeze, Quatrain 2 a riposte or development
bang, Quatrain 3 jumps to a higher or deeper level
blow. C final couplet closes or opens the argument: salt sweet bitter sour.

The grand conceit is that the individual sonnet reflects as a mirror for the sonnet series. Simultaneously, it is one sonnet alone and by synecdoche, all the sonnets in one.

Rhetorical analysis and use of orthography are demonstrably applied throughout the series.
Assonance and alliteration support the tone and atmosphere of each sonnet. Argument moves from cerebral conceit to smutty wit in dancing figures, climbing tropes and devious schemes. The balance of metre and rime is worked to the bone and fleshed out as quickly.

Masculine and feminine are both liberally, and almost hermaphroditically, intermixed in form and content. Time is fought and conquered (Q146) and given his due. Nature turns five hundred courses of the sun (Q59) and seasons wax, seasons wane charting the body politic.

Their ordering is just fine. It is consistent with a poet developing an argument from sonnet 1 to sonnet a 154 with recurring themes increasing in intensity until the ties, which first bound them so fast to pain and sorrow, are broken, in a resolutely major, (Q126) then minor fashion (152). Both light plot and dark sub-plot intertwine on an inner stage, only imagination can compass.

The final couplet of the sequence (so to speak) is two almost identical sonnets on Cupid (153 + 154) capping the whole. In fact you can almost apply a 5-Act structure in terms of narrative though the story is disappointingly thin on spiffy action and actual events , but big on the few characters confessing private sins and tumultuous hidden passions.

The Young man is the typical sonneteer’s beloved but with a twist in character. He is portrayed as wanton, frivolous and cruel, exhibiting selfish behaviour and with a low intellect, at least judging him by his friends. The Mistress is all this, but smarter and foxier than the young man could ever be, and we know she beds him as well, as Will.

A man loves a young man, who steals the man’s mistress. The young man dallies then bores with the mistress, the man forgives the young man, who promptly employs another poet to sing his praises.

The man again forgives the young man and realizes the young man in reality (funny that) is hardly any of the virtuous things he’s been calling him, so the man considerately and ceremoniously dumps him.

Meanwhile the mistress continues to make the man’s life a living hell. He’s forgiven her too. Eventually the man realizes his submission to his lover is sick and maddening, so he scornfully and unceremoniously dumps her.

This action was new to sonnet personas. One idealized and forgave one’s beloved for all unattainable eternity. But then it was usually just one beloved. So perhaps this thin gruel of a story is smoke and mirrors hiding the feast of its true purpose.

This series of 154 sonnets can be diagrammatically represented as a circle. An opus circulatorium representing the alchemical struggle of the soul towards God. His verse incorporating the universe within, as Hermes 3x stated: so above, so below.

Their numerology is quixotic and amusingly spaced, if you consider the series as a whole. It fits the Hermes 3x and Pythagorean traditions. The Natural philosophy clubs of London Antwerp Amsterdam etc had their literary and magical counterparts. In any case the precedent is set for clubs like Oxford’s Fisherman’s Folly and Raleigh’s school of night, the friday nights at the Mermaid Tavern.

Fair, kind and true is all their argument.

Let’s review the narrative’s character list
The young man is the beloved who inspires the series is quickly dropped as an over-arching quest (17) in favour of expressing immortality through verse. The poet’s own immortality more than any other character is the end result. These sonnets are more personal than Montaigne, and Less public than Burton.

One fool for love, = the poet Q30
Two loves, = the poet and the young man Q26
Three is a love-triangle, = the poet, the young man and the mistress. Q144
Four Humours and four elements Q44 + 45
Five Wits and Five Senses. Q140
Wit + Will Q135 + 136
Seven sins and virtues.
8 notes in one scale.
9 Muses.
10 times thyself.
Perfection, the godhead.

The eye is the primary sense: for judging beauty.
The heart judges truth and goodness.
The mouth and nose assist in love’s pleas to the beloved .
The ears receive the beloved’s answer, whether sweet or sour.
The touch is the road to perdition or salvation.

CONCLUSION: This inside out look at the Sonnets of Shakespeare concentrates more on the medium than the message. It deals with the words, ideas and sounds that are in the series and imposes nothing more than is necessary for understanding and successfully reciting them. The medium is YOU, your mouth, lips, tongue and breath, his witty twists and bitter turns of invention yours for as long as you speak ‘em.

GUEST Post: Translating Shakespeare to “Modern English”: A Defence

Translating Shakespeare spans centuries and many languages. Late in the 20thC it has become the turn of Early Modern English to be made into Modern English. Many are against this practice. I mean would we do the same for Middleton or Marlowe? Then neither of those has the place in the curricula of modern education that Sh does. And this seems to be the reason why these modern english translations are happening.

It is with pleasure then that I accepted the offer of No Sweat Shakespeare to do this guest post. Enjoy and if you have comments please post them on the FB group page.

Academics interested in the works of Shakespeare often ask the question: ‘Is it necessary to translate Shakespeare’s texts into “modern” English?’ Some take the view that it is but most argue against it.

Although my website, is a site that focuses on translating Shakespeare into modern English and although I have spent a great deal of time translating Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, I actually agree with those who say it’s unnecessary. Unnecessary as it is, though, it is harmless and can be useful.

The well known linguistician, David Crystal, professor of linguistics at Bangor University in Wales, argues eloquently against translation. His main point is that Shakespeare’s texts already are in Early Modern English, with the language already well developed in the form that we use today.

He is right, of course, and he doesn’t just make that point: he goes on to demonstrate it with facts and shows that ninety percent of Shakespeare’s words, for example, are modern English words still in use.

Other arguments against translation are that it’s a kind of dumbing down that would destroy, for the readers of translations, the challenge that Shakespeare’s texts offers; that the rhythms of Shakespeare’s poetry are ruined in translation, and that the multiple meanings produced by his poetry disappear.

All of this is undoubtedly true. However, one has to ask the question why it is that modern English translations are so popular among teachers and students, to the point where there is fierce competition among those who produce them for the growing market. Student forums on the internet abound with questions about where one can get a translation of a particular line of text or Shakespeare quote, or a scene in one of Shakespeare’s plays.

Many years ago, as an English teacher, I took a special interest in ways of introducing and teaching Shakespeare texts to children and young people. During the last quarter of a century a great deal of work has been done on that and now, with a good teacher, a student can have a wonderful Shakespeare experience in the classroom.

In those days, when I was exploring the subject, I used various methods to introduce Shakespeare in the classroom but I felt that there must be something I could do to hand the play over to the students before the actual study of the text began – to allow them to take possession of it and then want to explore the actual text.

I came up with the idea of creating a novelised version of Macbeth. It would be full of action, suspense, violence – a great story with ‘real’ characters with whom readers would identify. They would be able to read it independently of the teacher. Or the teacher could read it with them.

I began work on it. I found, exactly like David Crystal, that the language was almost exactly the English that we use today. But set out as a play, it was alien to student taste.

We should always remember that for Elizabethan writers the text was unimportant: the important thing was the performance. In fact, it was the only thing. Members of the public of the time never read a text – even the actors never read a full text.

In our time we study the text as a piece of literature and often a student will study the text and never see a performance. So the student is looking at the play in a way never dreamt of by its author, which is bound to be problematic in many ways.

Moreover, students rarely go away and read play scripts on their own so they are unfamiliar with that form. A play script is, after all, a most alienating thing. My aim was to create a step between the student and the Shakespeare text, using a form familiar to, and loved by, her, which would not only give her a complete view of the play – its story, its themes and its characters, but also of the language.

I therefore resolved to write something that felt like a novel in the reading but leave the language as intact as possible. However, there are some archaic words, some words whose meaning has changed completely, and some constructions, because of the density of the poetry, that are difficult to unravel.

So my approach was to use Shakespeare’s language and tweak it a bit to make it read fluidly, with the student not having to interrupt the read to try and understand something. She doesn’t have to stop reading a well-written novel to try and work something out so my top priority was to imitate that fluidity. That meant that it had to sound ‘modern’ to the reader’s ear and the result was that Shakespeare’s rhythms were lost for the most part.

It also meant that much of the depth created by the poetry had to go – multiple meanings had to be sacrificed to the needs of an unambiguous, straight read.

However, Shakespeare’s language is still there, almost intact, in the translation. I also used bits of descriptive dialogue to create the kind of authorial narrative that novelists create, giving the text a seamless forward thrust. And in every other way I used the novelist’s methods, retaining Shakespeare’s language wherever possible.

When I began using a modern English translation of Shakespeare in the classroom I found a response that went even beyond my hopes. Children read the text and then were able to talk about the plot, the ideas and the characters, before even catching a glimpse of the Shakespeare text. Their enthusiasm for the play was very satisfying as a teacher. The subsequent engagement with the text was then a teacher’s dream.

And, so, while agreeing with those critics of Shakespeare translations, in practice they can be very useful: the kind of translation I’ve referred to is a powerful item in the English teacher’s toolbox.

The use of the tool does not mean that the student avoids the Shakespeare text. That would, of course, depend on the teacher but if a teacher does not proceed to the text they, not, the translated text, is at fault.

By Warren King, NoSweatShakespeare

Revenge Rape and Murder in Titus Andronicus...

Revenge, Rape and Murder in Titus Andronicus: How many and why they happen?

Act.Scene: 1.1

1. MURDER. Alarbus (son of Tamora, Queen of the Goths) limbs lopped off and entrails removed and burned by the remaining 4 sons of Titus. Happens offstage.

2. MURDER. Mutius (son of Titus) stabbed by his father for stopping him going after Bassianus and Lavinia.

Act.Scene: 2.3

3. MURDER. Bassianus (brother to Emperor Saturninus and newly wed with Lavinia) stabbed and thrown into a pit by Demetrius and Chiron (sons of Tamora) for threatening to expose Aaron’s affair with Tamora.

Aaron then sets up Martius and Quintus (sons of Titus) for the murder of Bassianus with a faked letter and buried gold. And urges Chiron and Demetrius to the following…

4. Rape and Mutilation Lavinia (daughter of Titus and recently bereaved wife of Bassanius) raped and mutilated (hands chopped off and tongue cut out) by Demetrius and Chiron. Her uncle Marcus finds her and delivers some 25 lines of verse whilst she bleeds idly by.

Act.Scene: 3.1

5. Mutilation. Titus hand chopped off by Aaron. Supposedly setting his sons free by doing this.

7. + 8. MURDER. The heads of Martius and Quintus plus his hand are returned to him soon after. This drives him mad.

Act.Scene: 3.2

9. MURDER. Marcus (brother to Titus, uncle to his kids) stabs a fly to death. Titus tells him off for doing so, until Marcus says the fly was black like Aaron.

Act.Scene: 4.2

10. MURDER. Nurse (who brings the bastard child of Aaron and Tamora for Aaron to kill) is in turn stabbed by Aaron. She squeals like a pig as she dies. Weke, weke, he says.

11. MURDER. The midwife is killed by Demetrius and Chiron on Aaron’s orders. Happens offstage.

Act.Scene: 4.4

13. MURDER. A clown who brings a letter and some pigeons along with a knife from Titus is hanged by Saturninus (the emperor). Happens offstage. Titus has been bothering Saturninus by shooting burning arrows into Rome.

Act.Scene: 5.2

14. + 15. MURDER. Chiron and Demetrius have their throats slit by Titus and Lavinia collects their blood in a basin. Their bones are crushed and made into a paste and their heads are baked in a pie.

Act.Scene: 5.3

16. MURDER. Lavinia is stabbed by her father Titus at a dinner where Tamora has just eaten the pie made of her sons.

17. MURDER. Titus stabs Tamora.

18. MURDER. Saturninus stabs Titus.

19. MURDER. Saturninus is stabbed by Lucius (last remaining son of Titus who has raised an army of Goths and is also attending the banquet).

20. MURDER. Aaron is buried to the chest in the earth and starved to death on the new emperor Lucius’ orders.

21. Aaron’s baby presumably gets a pass and isn’t murdered.

The Peacham drawing is one of the earliest stage drawings of Titus Andronicus. There is some controversy as to whether it represents Sh’s version or a German translation of it.

Found the Dutch version of Aaron and Titus by working-class poet Jan Vos (John the Fox). Still curious about those other German translations of Sh plays published in 1620 under the name of Tragodien und Komodien: Titus en Aaron can be read at this linkage for the Dutch readers. All links open in a new window.

Obviously then Titus has history and was a popular hit in his time. The wiki-wik file for Titus is long and can be read here.

But is it a fiction of Sh’s creation? Or is it based on this chapbook? Or is it based on this ballad? Both are anonymous and undated. Whatever…

Titus is often reviled as infra dig and too bloody and too early to be any good. But it stands as a guide to themes that will be explored in Sh’s later works.

The play starts with and raises the question of hereditary succession to a throne. Our hero Titus is offered the throne and refuses. The warrior who refuses to become politician. Shades here of Bolingbroke in Henry the fourth, Macbeth, and Coriolanus.

Aaron is universally acknowledged as the most evil character in Shakespeare. Check his words. (And note the killing the fly reference).

Lucius asks:
Art thou not sorry for these heinous deeds?
Aaron replies:
Ay, that I had not done a thousand more.
Even now I curse the day—and yet, I think,
Few come within the compass of my curse,—
Wherein I did not some notorious ill,
As kill a man, or else devise his death,
Ravish a maid, or plot the way to do it,
Accuse some innocent and forswear myself,
Set deadly enmity between two friends,
Make poor men’s cattle break their necks;
Set fire on barns and hay-stacks in the night,
And bid the owners quench them with their tears.
Oft have I digg’d up dead men from their graves,
And set them upright at their dear friends’ doors,
Even when their sorrows almost were forgot;
And on their skins, as on the bark of trees,
Have with my knife carved in Roman letters,
‘Let not your sorrow die, though I am dead.’
Tut, I have done a thousand dreadful things
As willingly as one would kill a fly,
And nothing grieves me heartily indeed
But that I cannot do ten thousand more.

In Aaron we find shades of other Shakespeare nasties such as Iago in Othello and Edmund the bastard in King Lear. Or even Richard the humpbacked King.

Madness is another theme dealt with whether pretended or real as in Hamlet and again King Lear.

The flaring up of passions from nowhere as Titus taking his brother Marcus to task for killing that fly is reminiscent of Leontes flash of Jealousy in Winter’s Tale.

A phrase like ‘let it be so’ is found in act 1 scene 1 line 168 (Open Source Shakespeare. Try this plug in for searching their works from your own browser).

Shakespeare’s words website found me 11 results for that exact same phrase:

King John II.i.408 let it be so. Say, where will you assault?
King John IV.ii.67 let it be so. I do commit his youth
King John V.vii.96 let it be so. And you, my noble prince,
King Lear I.i.108 let it be so! Thy truth then be thy dower!
King Lear I.iv.302 let it be so. I have another daughter,
Othello I.iii.284.2 let it be so.
The Merchant of Venice MV II.ii.105 but let it be so hasted that supper
The Merchant of Venice MV V.i.300 let it be so.
The Merry Wives of Windsor MW V.v.235.2 let it be so. Sir John,
The Two Noble Kinsmen TNK V.i.33.1

Speaking of verbal parallels how about Demetrius talking about getting Lavinia without resorting to harsher methods in

Tit II.i.82:
She is a woman therefore would be wooed. She is a woman therefore would be won.

Kinda echoes Pandarus with his:
our kindred, though they be long ere they are wooed, they are constant being won: in act 3 scene 2.

or Don Pedro in Much Ado about Nothing:
Here, Claudio, I have wooed in thy name, and fair Hero is won:

How about Theseus in MND I.i.17:
Hippolyta, I wooed thee with my sword,
And won thy love doing thee injuries;

And now it’s starting to get parallel phrasing with Suffolk in Henry 6th part one, V.iii.78:
She’s beautiful, and therefore to be wooed;
She is a woman, therefore to be won.

And a final parallel phrasing in Richard 3rd just coz it’s getting late and i want to post this. R3 I.ii.228:
Was ever woman in this humour wooed?
Was ever woman in this humour won?

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night

The Oxford story in details the discussion can be found at blogging shakespeare:

William Ray 10 hours ago in reply to William Sutton:

Good questions. Oxford brought the Italian style to England, what is called ‘the English Renaissance’. There was no antecedent, so it was a catch-phrase for an outburst of innovation and talent.

Oxford’s secretaries were Mundy and Lyly, usually said to be “influences” on Shakespeare. It was the other way round. Mundy and Lyly “wrote” nothing after leaving his employ.

(please, click the names above for the wikilink which lays out their writing from 1584-1602).

But they were experienced stage managers and the plays are lively with action and entertaining exchanges, just on the unprecedented level of aristocratic manners, which the public had never seen before.

Oxford also sponsored a college of writers, the University Wits and others, which continued the ‘Renaissance’ in the next generation, those who lived to do so. Recall that Jonson’s praises for ‘Shakespeare’s’ contemporary playwrights specified “sporting Kid or Marlowe”, and Lily. These were of the 1580′s well before Shakspere even arrived in London. Broad hint there as to who ‘Shakespeare’ really was.

Shakespeare’s/Oxford’s popularity was based first on the near-lurid Venus and Adonis and the also youthfully appealing Lucrece, before Shakespeare as a label ever got associated with the plays.

Then presto a dozen anonymous plays were ‘Shakespeare’s’. It sounds like a set-up deal and was, via the Meres’ announcement, but in such a form as to hint to puzzle-readers Oxford and Shakespeare were one and the same playwright.

(You’ll notice by clicking the link on Meres that he was a minister. You’d think he might have some regard for truth and honesty. You’d also think from Billy Ray’s comment that Palladis Tamia was written to promote this puzzle. Judge for yourself).

It is incorrect to say the assumption of love between Elizabeth Trenton is based on a phrase in her will. He wrote her a quite famous acrostic poem that is clearly loving and admiring.

Can you cite where I can find it and that french letter too? Oo-er)!

The character of Portia the legally skilled (cross-dressed) (love trannies) lawyer in Merchant of Venice is also based on her highly respected attempts to apply equity law more broadly in English law, not automatically applying the precedents of common law that unfairly denied justice.

There were almost no other women lawyers in England. (or even any at all) True, she had money and that saved his creative career, so he could rewrite the 1570-80′s court plays and present them in public, and finish the tragedies.

His support for the Earl’s Colne school continued even when he was destitute, from tenant taxes owed to him from the estate.

About the missing will, it is indeed curious, but Camden suggested that the powers that were (Cecils) thought they could eliminate present events from future memory.

Oxford’s probably thousands of literary letters do not exist, (convenient that) only the mining and other unflattering begging letters, to go with the Howard defamations. They did not turn up missing somehow.

About his grave, Percival Golding said it was in Francis Vere’s family vault, although his wife’s will implies it was near their King’s Place estate. That is covered over now. Nobody knows. In the present defensive climate, I don’t expect an officially approved wire-camera to search the Vere vault at Westminster.

(Here’s a link to the Oxford page up to their extinction after the 20th Earl).

On “rival companies”, a big Alan Nelson bugaboo. (Why would he give plays to rival companies when he had two of his own?) The Shakespeare plays are listed as performed by Lord Chamberlain’s Men, Pembrokes, Derbys, and Sussex’s companies,

because one, Oxford’s Men and Oxford’s Boys disappeared by 1590, and two, Oxford was not concerned with the money to be gained, but with the plenary education and cultural understanding to be gained.

(And no one knew this better than Elizabeth, whatever revulsion her advisors felt. He had royal protection).

(For what it was worth, his reputation. His penury must have been shaming beyond belief. Just like Timon. Though why Shakspere couldn’t have thought of that I don’t know.)

He may have been the last stubborn feudalist, contemptuous of money and money-makers, to a fault.

(Even Prince Hal/King Henry didn’t fraternise with the hoi polloi too much or too long. Our Shakespere suffers with poor Francis as any Snug in learning lines. He gives his Athenian craftsmen literacy. He gives a dignity to all his characters that is filled by the actor playing that role. The words are the thing that spin the story in your heart and mind. Pray God you have some!

His characters are also true to their sources and therefore already part of discourse and unnecessary to have been created by a genius noble mind.

His imaginative use of verse further deepens the drama of the time. If played well. Badly, the scorn of the backstage. The same applies today and I don’t care if it’s Shakespeare or Jonson or Middleton or Marlowe that’s playing.

Lastly, Jonson’s 1641 discussion of praise for ‘Shakespeare’s’ not blotting (smudging) a line. Then he said he wished he had crossed out a thousand. The repetition of praises for high skill seemed sincere–a prodigal talent, spoken from the underlying knowledge of the actual author’s skills.

(ah yes Ben Jonson and his manservant follower of fashion in the Tribe of Ben. Ben was actually the SHakespeare superstar of the time. His first work in theatre anecdotally thanks to the Lord Chamberlain’s Men given a boost.

His patron who never had anything to do with Oxford/ShO-Xpeare. Where’s that connection in Oxfordian accounts?

His city comedies and scathing local characters were a massive hit in the late 1590′s. Ben doubled up with Inigo Jone’s in the early 1600′s especially after Liza died, and Oxford too. His roots were in Scotland, actually the borders which is a different kettle of fish.

The other side of the ambiguity was to humanize ‘him’ as lively almost wild in temperament and quite capable of error. This instead of the ‘Monster’ (colossus) portrayed in the First Folio. Neither description, 1623 or 1641, had anything to do with Shakspere. You can see what his script looks like.

I looked at a letter written in French by de Vere when he was fourteen. He not only didn’t make a single mistake in fine French, the calligraphy is perfect. I believe it was this seemingly effortless artistic talent as much as the dramatic talent that impressed Jonson.

The more you read the elegy, the more obvious it is as a mixed message. The numerological cues confirm this impression. Seventeen words in the title, seventeen lines before Jonson writes, now I will begin, seventeen authors listed in the elegy, Shakespeare repeated four (four=vier=Vere) times, the references to the 1580′s playwrights, internal Latin puns about the AUTHORity of genius being confirmed by punishment, allusions to Oxford’s praise of Spenser and Harvey’s praise of Oxford, the similarity of the elegy beginning to a tribute Jonson had written to Susan Vere Herbert. It hasn’t been fully analyzed from the right angle yet.

End of comments so far. I’m not doing this to piss on Oxfordian’s parades. It’s for my own sanity. Doubt Falstaff, doubt the world.

I think Shakspere would see these comments as fighting words! Especially if he was that boor as in Anon. (He slices Marlowe’s throat right? ROTFLMAO)! I still don’t see it working out as the world suddenly turning en masse towards Oxenforde. Or re-writing history, literature, biographies. Much likelier he did it the same as his contemporary poets and playwrights.

You can’t control a creative environment. You have to go with the flow. But you suggest a conspiracy so large too many would have known. That’s why the anagrams and ever veres are so irritating. Coz if it’s that simple how come the close readers of the time missed it. And all the evidence of marginalia shows us they were close readers. See the Meisei Univ folio for the proof.

Who was in on this conspiracy? Besides the fact it was known in print i.e. public knowledge Oxford wrote plays and poems and anyone who could read would know. The stigma comes from the public stage presentations. I ass-u-me. Hyphens intentional.

Sh the actor knew both crafts of writing and playing. Oxenforde could never have acted on the public stage. Never. Pun intended. Private stage and the Courtly absolutely. He was definitely not to be discounted.

I believe too he had an influence on early modern private theatre but not the public stage. Too many grubby hands a Shakspere wouldn’t have minded shaking, if a man’s spirit needed lifting.

Romanticising biography stops here. But it is true. Reading Shakespeare, even a simple soliloquy, lifts your spirits and engages your everything.

Your ShO-Xpeare is priviliged by birth. That leads to the snob assertion. Noblesse oblige and all that jazz. You might be common born or peasant raised, but your candidate ain’t. The link ain’t hard to make. Your guy was coddled and groomed and then FUBAR. Still a leading Earl, a nobody at Court since the Armada and his refusal of the traditionally family post at Harwich. You’ll have me believe he served with the Bonaventure the ship that wasn’t his. Maxed out on credit but could still sell the noble patronage down the river with plays meant for the stage. SO his bright idea was what exactly?

Here follow individual interpretations and a fragmented further argument commences where nobody agrees on the exact events, or insists they do have knowledge of the exact events.

When we know that all our evidence and its multiple and far reaching conclusions do accumulate to where you must accept the record as it stands. There is no need to doubt.

Just maybe like your guy wanted to be anonymous. So did ours. He had a good thing going and it kept him and his family well. Physician heal thyself!

Another thing I like about Sh, whoever he be, he hates sycophants and they are found on all levels of society, depending on their need. Yech! Imagining Shoxperd looking down his nose, no problem. Shakspere uses gently and rounds his argument and teases it out either in words and phrases or particular attention to the verse to heighten some dramatic moment from the underdog’s and the victor’s pov.

There’s a humanity, in his middle and lower class characters, howsoever dim they be. They are by no means the humpty dumpty cut outs other writers of the time were churning out. He makes fun of the development in verse, whilst being at the cutting edge of that verse writing. (at least in the top ten of his contemporaries).

Everyone knew who he was. If he wasn’t the writer and actor, then why did his contemporaries, some of whom had extremely vicious pens, not say anything? Or do they? And we’re not reading it right.

Your man, ShOXperd, Plagued by Troubles with all his houses, mostly of his own causing. I also don’t believe he’s either Elizabeth’s sister aunt mother, or builder of gilded monuments with her for Southampton’s rose. Quirky and kinky, but unprovable. And not evidence you would actually want to use. Really.

Willy Ray I hope you take this in the spirit of the argument. There is nothing personal in this except our differing views on something, I think we can safely say, we both love and are passionate about. I wish you as much enjoyment as I derive from Sh.

But your pov on the SHOXfordian (one who must not be named by the ESTABLISHMENT) holds together with bee spit and cobwebby strands that burst apart when touched with the truth you so hotly desire.

But then there’s the thing it’s meant to be that fragile. Not meal to moth’s wing wrote Matthew Arnold about Shakspere.

I have a confession. When i read your posts I like to use a very RP accent. It’s hilarious! Or rather binnen pret, as the Dutch say; inside fun, its translation. Since you’re from California I suspect your actual voice is rather different.

These then are some of the questions we like to ask. Our candidate passes the test on what you require of a poet playwright and provides a circular argument conclusively identifying him as the author and the actor.

On the other hand you make my candidate mentally, morally, and ethically deficient in the basics of human discourse. Then why did OXford choose him?

Alternatively you can imagine the actor, but not him being the playwright. Then it follows he must have been a pretty good actor because he was playing for the Queen too. 1594, him Kempe and Burbage, revels accounts.

All the stuff that Kathman and Reedy write about in HOW we know SH wrote Sh. Every person who believes SH wrote SH, or is doubting, should read this document first. If you’re already infected with Shoxfordianism, reading this should make your blood boil and seethe your brains!

(obviously working in the case of WIlliam J Ray’s responses to Tom Reedy, co-author. Shout out to the 44-calibre Shakespeare’s Humphrey)!

HHH and Catholic Will

I found this expose of Sh’s life on a link to Judge Stephen’s in the Wall Street Journal. The triple H is the German professor Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel. She’s one of us BUT she is a believer in Catholic Shakespeare.

At least her scenario gives poor Will of Stratford a chance to actually live and breathe. And gain an education. Ever since I first read of Jesuit drama I thought it may have an influence on WIll’s (as well as others and members of a theatre going public) development.

But then Catholic Shakespeare is ruled a heresy in Orthodoxy. All the pieces are put together by Triple H from education to death mask. There is no mystery. So agree or not agree? Judge for yourself:

William Shakespeare: The Features, Education and Diseases of a Genius

The genius of William Shakespeare, the creator of immortal works for the stage who is celebrated today as an icon of world literature, was already fully recognised in his own day.

One drama in particular, Hamlet, after 400 years still among the most fascinating, most read, most frequently staged, most discussed and surely most intensively studied plays of all time, had a profound emotional effect on its contemporary audience, in part because of its dangerous political content.

However, the student youth of his day had a penchant for Romeo and Juliet, and eagerly devoured his lubricious verse epic, Venus and Adonis. According to one literary source, they kept a copy of the text under their pillow, and hung a picture of the author above their bed.

As befitted the famous author, Shakespeare’s family had a lavish funerary monument erected to him, in the Jacobean Renaissance style. It was a monument that can be classed among the funerary memorials of scholars and writers of Tudor and Stuart times, to which Shakespeare as an outstanding poet was entitled.

It was embellished with a coloured, true-to-life limestone bust, based on a death mask, and bore eulogising inscriptions putting the deceased on a par with the great literary authorities of classical antiquity (Nestor, Socrates, and Virgil).

In 1623 his actor colleagues and friends published the first edition of his plays, in which they included for the first time those dramas that were politically explosive. (say what)?

Perhaps the most precious book in the world, the First Folio contains a frontispiece engraving depicting the dramatist, proclaiming his ‘work-author identity’ and thus safeguarding Shakespeare’s intellectual property. Many laudatory poems were included in the volume.

This early homage to the poet was negated, however, by the effect of the English Civil War from which the iconoclastic Puritans emerged victorious. Stratford-upon-Avon did not escape their ravages, which almost certainly included serious damage to Shakespeare’s bust in Holy Trinity Church.

But where, one may ask, did Shakespeare, the son of John and Mary Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, obtain his sound education in the humanities and also his early training as a playwright?

It all has to do with the change in religion. Just like hundreds of Catholic parents in England at that time, the Shakespeares, adherents to the old faith, must also have sent their son William to the then only Catholic English College on the Continent at Douai (which was moved to Rheims from 1578 to 1593) as soon as he had reached the entrance age of fourteen. This was in 1578.

The Shakespeares knew that they were breaking the law. It was the English ambassador to France who advised his government to punish the parents of these students severely.

Hitherto it could not be explained why John Shakespeare was summoned to appear before the Queen’s Bench in Westminster in 1580 – together with 140 other persons from all over the country. At that time the number of students at the English College was c. 140. (need to see more info on this)

It is no accident that William, who would have finished his studies in 1580, was employed as an illegal Catholic teacher or tutor in the household of Alexander Hoghton in Lancashire. Hoghton’s brother, Thomas de Hoghton, the head of the family, had left his native England for reasons of conscience and emigrated to Flanders in the late 1560s. He was a close friend of the founder of the English College (William Allen, formerly a fellow at Oxford University) and had helped building it. He also left the college 100 pounds when he died.

It is significant that the theatrical performances at Douai/Rheims were modelled on the great Jesuit theatre of the time. The Jesuits were astonishingly indifferent to Aristotle’s concept of the Three Unities of Action, Place, and Time. They preferred hybrid forms of drama, and tragicomedy in particular.

All this can easily be recognised in Shakespeare’s theatre. It was the English College at Douai/Rheims where the young Shakespeare must have obtained his academic education and his early theatrical training and practice.[1]

Despite his illustrious literary career, the playwright was only 49 years old when he withdrew to the seclusion of his Stratford retreat.

He died three years later – probably as the result of a systemic skin sarcoidosis, an internal disease to which all organs are vulnerable, and which leads to death normally after many years.

The outer signs of this illness can be seen in all four likenesses of Shakespeare whose authenticity I was able to establish,[2] working closely with many scientists and academics from other disciplines, including a number of medics and experts from the German Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BKA = CID or FBI).

All the tests used to establish identity led to the same unexpected and sensational result, namely that all the images investigated show the same man: William Shakespeare, taken from life.

The symptoms – in the same location each time, though reproduced at different stages of development – diagnosed by the medics show that the artists must have seen them on the living model or that they were extant in Shakespeare’s face after his death.

Thus they are significant indicators that the Chandos and Flower portraits, the Davenant bust and the Darmstadt Shakespeare death mask are true-to-life or true-to-nature representations of Shakespeare.

The thoroughly researched and publicly documented morphological and pathological characteristics of Shakespeare’s face now form a kind of catalogue of criteria, which can be applied whenever the claim is made that a well-known or newly-discovered portrait represents Shakespeare.

The Janssen portrait in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, and the Cobbe portrait in the collection of Alec Cobbe, have both been tested for authenticity.

The investigations showed that the painter of the Janssen portrait was quite familiar with Shakespeare’s characteristic features and with the symptoms of his early-stage illnesses.

The artist who painted the Cobbe picture, however, was not acquainted with all the morphological characteristics of Shakespeare’s face, and in particular was unaware of pathological details, apart from a slight swelling of the left upper eyelid, of which there is only a ‘suggestion’ in his portrait.

Therefore the Cobbe picture can hardly be an authentic portrait of William Shakespeare painted from life. Neither can it have served as the model for the Droeshout engraving.

Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel
Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz

[1] See H. Hammerschmidt-Hummel, The Life and Times of William Shakespeare, 1564-1616. London. Chaucer Press, 2007).

[2] The images concerned are the Chandos portrait, dating from c. 1594-99 (National Portrait Gallery, London); the Flower portrait, painted in 1609 (in the Royal Shakespeare Company collection until c. 1999, and since vanished without trace); the terracotta Davenant bust of c. 1613 (Garrick Club, London);

and the Darmstadt Shakespeare death mask, taken one or two days after Shakespeare’s death (Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek, Darmstadt). See Hammerschmidt-Hummel, The True Face of William Shakespeare. The Poet’s Death Mask and Likenesses from Three Periods of His Life. London: Chaucer Press, 2006).

So she doesn’t think the Cobbe portrait is life-like. Already enough to make her unliked in Stratters. Is this documentary of hers about the death mask in English or German? Stick around, I will be true.

And what about that politically charged plays entered the Folio comment? Where’s that list of 18?

As usual, more questions than answers.

If you are tired of hearing the guff about illiterate daughters and women as toys and playthings while the men do all the work and thinking. Just have a read of Aemilia Lanyer’s work.

The introductory poem to Queen Anne has so many echoes of the sonnets it makes my head spin. I’m not saying she’s Shakespeare but he was lucky if she was the Dark Lady!