- ............................My story being done,
- She gave me for my pains a world of sighs.
- She swore, i' faith, 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange;
- 'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful.
- She wished she had not heard it; yet she wished
- That heaven had made her such a man. She thanked me;
- And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
- I should but teach him how to tell my story,
- And that would woo her. Upon this hint I spake.
- She loved me for the dangers I had passed,
- And I loved her that she did pity them.
- This only is the witchcraft I have used.
from Richard III (Richard is speaking)
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinish'd, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them;
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
A Midsummer Night's Dream (Titania is speaking)
The fairy land buys not the child of me.
His mother was a votaress of my order:
And, in the spiced Indian air, by night,
Full often hath she gossip'd by my side,
And sat with me on Neptune's yellow sands,
Marking the embarked traders on the flood,
When we have laugh'd to see the sails conceive
And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind;
Which she, with pretty and with swimming gait
Following,.her womb then rich with my young squire,--
Would imitate, and sail upon the land,
To fetch me trifles, and return again,
As from a voyage, rich with merchandise.
But she, being mortal, of that boy did die;
And for her sake do I rear up her boy,
And for her sake I will not part with him.
Hap Notes: Just a little taste of Shakespeare on his birthday (or, at least, the date we choose to celebrate it). I thought of using a sonnet or two but I really just wanted to show how Shakespeare's various characters inform his words and how his characters contribute to what Harold Bloom calls "the invention of the human." All these speeches reveal something complex about human behavior.
Othello is explaining how after he told Desdemona his life story, filled as it was with adventure, floods, being sold into slavery, hard labors, his escapes and many exploits, the story fills her with love and sympathy and admiration. (Shakespeare is telling us that a woman can love someone whose life story is well-told. Desdemona is moved by the events of his life. He does not woo her with flowery speeches, he speaks of military campaigns, cannibals and his own suffering. Why would she fall in love with him for this?)
Richard the III is explaining why his deformities prevent him from being a part of regular happy life and how, even if he wanted to join in he is spurned. Even his shadow reminds him of his physical limitations and while he cannot be a "normal" person, he is quite capable and determined to be a villain. (It's truly the first case I can think of where a brute villain's childhood has been his psychological underpinnings. His rejection by life causes his anger and his evil deeds.)
Third is the goddess Titania talking about a servant boy that her "mate" Oberon wants from her. It's her charming chat about her serving woman and herself bonded as sisters through talk and laughter together that charms me here. That and the "spiced Indian air" which sounds so romantic and beautiful on the beach. (Women bonding in friendship through joking and talk- cool stuff in the 1600s. Titania loves the child because she was good friends with the mother...another complex idea.)
Here are some funnier Shakespearean things for a Saturday:
First the enormously funny Reduced Shakespeare Company doing some of Hamlet: www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLCbsuXwb6o
Here's Second City's "Sassy Gay Friend" with Ophelia: www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnvgq8STMGM&feature=relmfu
Last, the Slings and Arrows theme song for their Hamlet episodes: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mqioi08EIHQ
And a cartoon: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KGF3Tap94k