Thursday, March 3, 2011

Running Wild with Shakespeare

I am a great advocate for quoting Shakespeare (you may have noticed).

There is one thing that is unforgivable...quoting Shakespeare out of context. This happens to every author and is somewhat unavoidable, but taking something a character says and then forgetting that it is in a play and who says it and when, is dreadful.

One example is a few lines from King Lear. I love King Lear and although it's a sad story I do not think it a completely depressing and hopeless one. The lines so frequently quoted that we are only "the play-thing of the gods" are not the final words on the matter...

The famous quote "to thy own self be true" is rarely attributed to Polonius. Polonius' speech to Laertes has always been one to puzzle me. Polonius hardly seems like a voice of wisdom in the play as a whole. Much of his advice to his children seems legitimate, but other portions just leave you wondering on what exactly Shakespeare is trying to say.

Recently I've been thinking about citing references and being careful with quotes. Poor Shakespeare has come up rather frequently.

If we think about it, this is like saying Christopher McQuarrie and and Nathan Alexander actually believe "Any problem on Earth can be solved with the careful application of high explosives." or that William Goldman actually thinks that "Australia is entirely peopled with criminals".

I think this is partly why we get confused about who's who in Shakespeare and who in the world Shakespeare actually is and what he actually believed.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

4 comments:

Molly @ A Bit O' Shine said...

Part of the reason I find reading so important is there are so many things we say that are FROM SOMETHING and so many people have no idea!

There's a scene in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn where the Duke and the King are trying to do a Shakespearean performance and they absolutely butcher it. Absolutely CRACKS ME UP every time. I'm such a nerd. :) But really it wouldn't be funny unless you'd read the originals.

Lindsay said...

This makes a lot of sense. Since he is the second most quoted author in the world, it doesn't surprise me, however. Look at how much the Biblical scripture is quoted completely out of context!

The Odd Fish said...

This is random, but I love that you posted Romans 5:1-5 on a sidebar on your blog. I memorized it awhile back and it is of great encouragement. :)

Happy Homemaker said...

I wonder how many times Shakespeare has turned over in his grave.