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6rant6's avatar

What's a well known scene from Shakespeare?

Asked by 6rant6 (13624 points ) March 12th, 2012

I’m going to assume that the balcony scene is Romeo and Juliet is the most well known scene in Shakespeare. But what’s the second most?

A lot of lines are well known – “Out damn spot,” “Alas Poor Yorrick,” “We come not to praise Caesar but to bury him.” But I’m not sure people know the scene they are taken from.

Anyway, what’s your thought on the second most well known scene?

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30 Answers

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Perhaps the witches around the cauldron?

tranquilsea's avatar

Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy.

FutureMemory's avatar

The soliloquy that includes the line “To be or not to be”.

edit: dangit, Tranquil!

Blackberry's avatar

Some guy stabbing another guy through a curtain because he watched him bang his mom I think?

FutureMemory's avatar

@Blackberry You’re thinking of when Polonious spied on Hamlet and his mother. Hamlet assumed it was the king (his uncle), and stabbed him.

tranquilsea's avatar

Oh and he stabs the guy behind the curtain because he thinks it is his step father. It is actually his true love’s father. A mess ensues.

Blackberry's avatar

Ah ok, thanks guys :)

6rant6's avatar

“To be or not to be” is a great example of a line people know, but can’t tell where it happens or when it happens in the story. Some don’t know who says it or what ply it’s from. __Not to name names…__

FutureMemory's avatar

@tranquilsea Just don’t ask me about any of his other plays ;)

6rant6's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate That’s a great one! I imagine if you showed the scene, many people would be able to come up with, “Double, double toil and trouble” or something close. I wonder how many would get “Macbeth.”

marinelife's avatar

I like this one from Richard III.

6rant6's avatar

The final scene of Hamlet is what gave me the impetus to post this question.

I’m writing a comedy, and wanted to parody a famous Shakespearean scene. This scene has some elements that really work for my purposes, (whereas the balcony scene won’t work) but I was concerned it wasn’t well known enough. So this is encouraging news.

FutureMemory's avatar

“I am dead, Horatio.”

Great scene, @6rant6

muppetish's avatar

Well… I suppose the balcony scene (or just about any scene in Hamlet) would be the most well known to contemporary audiences, but there are many scenes in King Lear that stand out to me (the beginning when he asks which of his daughters loves him most, when the blinded Gloucester compares the human-god relationship as flies to wanton boys, and spoiler: when Lear enters the court carrying Cordelia’s body). But there are so many others, such as Miranda exclaiming “O Brave new world” in The Tempest, that are so subversive we reference and notice them without knowing where they originally came from.

I’m a little sheepish posting this as a literature graduate student studying drama. It may be what I go into teaching one day.

filmfann's avatar

to be or not to be.

How could you think anything else? It is the ultimate moment from the greatest play ever.

Trillian's avatar

Um… what about the scene from Henry V?
”..We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”

I think the real grabber is the whole “hold their manhoods cheap” idea. I know it gets my attention every time.

6rant6's avatar

@filmfann Soliloquies won’t work for my purposes and Hamlet was a whiner.

Sunny2's avatar

Lady Macbeth’s “Out damned spot!” speech.
“If music be the food of life. . .” from the opening of Twelfth Night.

saint's avatar

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

Portia, The Merchant of Venice, act 4 [?] scene 1 [?]

Jeruba's avatar

Thinking of the scenes I see most often parodied myself, I agree that the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet is probably number 1. And the three witches from Macbeth might well be number 2. They show up in a lot of cartoons and comic situations.

It seems to me that “A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!” in Richard III would be another very well-known line. Don’t know about the familiarity of the whole scene to a general audience. Is it really an entire scene you want or just a highly recognizable moment? If the latter, then yes, Yorick, and “Et tu, Brute?” and Bottom and Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and maybe a rough-and-tumble moment from The Taming of the Shrew.

lonelydragon's avatar

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves…” from Julius Caesar.

Earthgirl's avatar

Shylock’s soliliquy from Merchant of Venice:
“Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villany you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.”—Shylock, “The Merchant of Venice”, Act III Scene I

Quite powerful and quite famous but might not be very PC to parody it. Tread carefully.

linguaphile's avatar

The scene with Bottom from Midsummer Night’s Dream and Puck’s closing monologue: “If we shadows have offended…

not many comedies on this thread, @HawaiiJake, mostly tragedies :D

iphigeneia's avatar

Will the “Get thee to a nunnery” scene from Hamlet work for your purpose? Even if people don’t recognise it straight away, they’ll pick it up very quickly.

But I’d agree that the witches in Macbeth make the second most familiar scene.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I’m late to this thread, and I don’t think I have anything really to add. The witches come to mind quickly. The graveyard scene in Hamlet using a skull is right up there at the top. The killing of Julius Caesar is another good one.

If you’re looking for something to poke fun at, then the ghost in Hamlet could lend itself to comedy. But the witches might be funnier still.

@linguaphile : Nope, very few comedies.

cazzie's avatar

This is GREAT! so many varied answers. My faith in human nature restored.

I can’t even begin to name my many favourites, but I’m not a normal person to ask because I read Shakespeare for fun, so my view is determinedly squewed.

When Caesar is knifed in the forum and turns to Brutus and says, Et tu, Brute? (but that is me, today, after being stabbed in the back by a neighbour who I thought was a friend. Mistake made by talking to another human being. Shall not do that again.)

Oh, and Jerbera is right. A horse, a horse….. is another well known one. But again. that might just be me projecting because our car died recently with no hope of a new one and I would REALLY love a horse to make the trekk up the hill to get groceries.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

Methinks one could find in the lines of The Bard, a quote or saying to apply to any situation one finds oneself.

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