My Word | To be or not to be. That is the question.

WORDS MAN: William Shakespeare. To be or not to be. That is the question.

WORDS MAN: William Shakespeare. To be or not to be. That is the question.

To be or not to be. That is the question.

Whenever I hear that comment, I think of William Shakespeare. I don’t know about you, but that’s who I think of.

It was in Hamlet, Act 3,Scene 1.

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, often shortened to Hamlet is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare at an uncertain date between 1599 and 1602.

Set in Denmark, the play dramatises the revenge Prince Hamlet is called to wreak upon his uncle, Claudius, by the ghost of Hamlet's father, King Hamlet. Claudius had murdered his own brother and seized the throne, also marrying his deceased brother's widow.

Just in case you haven’t heard of William Shakespeare, Shakespeare also spelled Shakspere, byname Bard of Avon or Swan of Avon, (baptized April 26, 1564, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England—died April 23, 1616, Stratford-upon-Avon), English poet, dramatist, and actor, often called the English national poet and considered by many to be the greatest dramatist of all time.

Shakespeare penned many quotes, many of which we still use today.

Here are some of them:

All the world’s a stage. As you like it, Act 2, Scene 7.The idea that all the world’s a stage was already clichéd when Shakespeare wrote As You Like It

What the Dickens. The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 3, Scene 2. What the dickens is an oath referring not to Charles, but to Satan.

There Are More Things in Heaven And Earth.Hamlet, Act1, Scene 5. Horatio and Marcellus, though advised against it, barge into Hamlet’s conversation with his father’s ghost.

Salad Days. Antony and Cleopatra, Act 1, Scene 5. Some believe that salad refers to a meal; others to youthful innocence.

O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo. Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2.  By wherefore, Juliet asks for what purpose, rather than why.

Neither Rhyme Nor Reason. The Comedy of Errors, Act 2, Scene 2 The confused Dromio thinks that he hasn’t said what Antipholus thinks he has said.

Parting is such sweet sorrow. Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2. Parting is ideas of pleasure and pain.

Out, Damned Spot. Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 1. Lady Macbeth sleepwalks through the royal castle and incriminates herself.

One Fell Swoop. Macbeth, Sct 4, Scene 3, Shakespeare uses “fell” as an adjective meaning fierce, deadly.

Method In the Madness. Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2.Polonius is convinced that Hamlet is truly mad.

Let’s kill all the Lawyers. Henry The Sixth Part Two, Act 4, Scene 2. Jack Cade alleges that lawyers shuffle parchments back and forth on an attempt to ruin the common man.

Knock, knoch, Who’s there? Macbeth, Act 2, Scene 3. The thane has just murdered the king of Scotland.

A horse, a horse. My kingdom for a horse. Richard the Third, Act 5, Scene 4.King Richard 111 is about to meet his doom at the hands of the future Henry V11.

Hoist with his own petard. Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 4. Blown up with his own mine.

Eaten me out of house and home. Henry the Fourth, Part 2. Hostess Quickly, of the  Boar’s Head Tavern, is complaining  about her lodger, Sir John Falstaff.

Hob Nob, Twelfth Night, Act 3, Scene 4. Hamlet lectures the actors, who will soon perform for his stepfather.

Friends, Romans, Countrmen, lend me your ears. Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2. Antony skilfully manipulates the crowd where Brutus lectured to it.

Read on…

In my book, My Word.                                                                                                  This book deals with columns published in Australian newspapers since 1995.

They deal in a lighthearted way with the words we use. 

Contact lbword@midcoast.com.au.