Shakespeare goes political…


Prince Hal speaking:

I know you all, and will awhile uphold
The unyoked humour of your idleness:
Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That, when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wonder’d at,
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.
If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work;
But when they seldom come, they wish’d for come,
And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.
So, when this loose behavior I throw off
And pay the debt I never promised,
By how much better than my word I am,
By so much shall I falsify men’s hopes;
And like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glittering o’er my fault,
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
I’ll so offend, to make offence a skill;
Redeeming time when men think least I will.

In fact, the whole scene is strangely prescient of things afoot – like pussies in the night, which the dark renders all and one as grey as cloud…


  1. Rufus McCain says

    This is so NOT relevant to things afoot, JOB. Really? No, come on.

    Try this: Shakespeare Explains the 2016 Election

  2. Sure it is, Rufus. I think our candidates will turn out as spotless as a lamb when all is said and done. I just FEEL it.

    “Feelings, nothing more than feelings…”


  3. Rufus,

    Thanks for this. You must have had some time on your hands while awaiting your parole officer…

    At any rate, interesting read, especially interesting to see Shakespeare interpreted as a crypto-democrat (small-D).

    This in particular is insightful (and, by the way, Greenblatt’s sexist use of the masculine pronoun should not go unnoticed by the grammar police):

    “They are we, the audience, charmed again and again by the villain’s jaunty outrageousness, by his [does he mean ‘her’?] indifference to the ordinary norms of human decency, by the lies that seem to be effective even though no one believes them, by the seductive power of sheer ugliness. Something in us enjoys every minute of his [or ‘her’?] horrible ascent to power.”

    Also, I’m curious who Greenblatt could be referring to here: “The problem was not England’s, where a woman of exceptional intelligence and stamina had been on the throne for more than 30 years, but it had long preoccupied thoughtful people.”

    I think St. Edmund Campion and 39 others might beg to differ.

    But never mind. There seems to be a weighting of the scales for women in this piece perhaps because – Oh, thank God, I just caught myself. How wickedly horrible of me to be thinking somehow women cannot be condemned for the same thing men do, especially as they luxuriate for 30 years of so in the corridors of power.

    Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I should be made to wear a dress and made to use a rest room in Target!

    I just feel… DEPLORABLE!

    (Not to mention IRREDEEMABLE!)

    Hee hee!


    For further suggested reading:

  4. Quin Finnegan says

    (1) As for Greenblatt’s article in the times, Hillary fits the Richard III profile as well as Trump, easily, and that he, Greenblatt, doesn’t make more of this is just too damn bad. Especially since she’ll actually win the election. But of course Shakespeare wrote for the ages, while SG writes—here, anyway—for the daily. There’s the difference.

    (2) SG has written a damn fine book (further reaching than the tilt of that article) about the Catholic Shakespeare called Hamlet in Purgatory:

Speak Your Mind