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tabbycat's avatar

What is your favorite Shakespeare play and why?

Asked by tabbycat (1803points) September 12th, 2008
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23 Answers

JackAdams's avatar

Hamlet, and I don’t think I can give you a definitive explanation as to precisely why I like it, but I guess my reasons might include that so many present-day English-language idioms/expressions are tied directly to it.

For example, in Act I, Scene III, Lord Polonius exclaims:

Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell: my blessing season this in thee!

I usually quoted the above passage from memory, when declining to loan money to my shiftless and no-good relatives.

osullivanbr's avatar

I’d have to agree with Jack. It is very hard to explain why though. I studied it in school, which, for me, makes it very strange that I love it so much. Similarly to jack, I’d have to say it’s because it has so much wisdom and sense in it.

And now that I have it on my iphone, I can read it whenever I want. Yah Shakespeare

JackAdams's avatar

@osullivanbr: When you were in school, were you also forced to memorize and recite Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be: that is the question” soliloquy? I was!

Several years ago (and I apologize for not being able to mention his name) a US Congressman in the House of Representatives stood up, to comment on a bill being debated, which would include increased funding for the USAF B2 Bomber.

Naturally, this mischievous Representative, with a wink to the TV cameras, began his speech to those assembled, by saying, “B2, or not B2, THAT is the question…”

Lots of congressional laughter followed, of course, and his remarks were part of every TV newscast, that evening.

Wish I knew who it was that said it, and had a transcript of it, from the Congressional Record.

osullivanbr's avatar

Totally made to memorize it. To this day I’ll occasionally break out and recite it just to annoy people. I am really easily entertained though.

JackAdams's avatar

I found what I was seeking!

Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) argued on the House floor Wednesday, July 26, 1989 against the B-2 Stealth bomber. Here is part of the text of his statement:

“B-2, or not B-2: That is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous expense, Or to take arms against a sea of deficits, and by opposing end them. To cut, to spend no more, and by a cut say we end the heartache and a thousand cost overruns that B-2 is heir to.”

Lightlyseared's avatar

What ever they doing at the RSC each year.

osullivanbr's avatar

That’s kinda clever.

JackAdams's avatar

For those who may not know, RSC = Royal Shakespeare Company

JackAdams's avatar

Forgot to provide a link to the RSC Website, in case anyone is interested.

Lightlyseared's avatar

@jack cheers

Slightly more info – 2007 season production of Twelfth Night with John Lithgow as Malvolio was fantastically entertaining.

This year Hamlet with Dr Who (David Tennant) as Hamlet was also pretty good but I preffered Taming of the Shrew.

Highly recommend you visit if you get the chance.

BarbieM's avatar

For tragedy, I love King Lear. I think Lear is such a great tragic character. He does bring about his own downfall with a traditional tragic flaw, but he’s so heartbreaking at the end. I do love Macbeth and Titus Andronicus too though.

My favorite history play is a toss up between Henry IV and Henry V, but they both center on the same character. I always taught them back to back.

For comedy, I woul dhave to go with Much Ado About Nothing.

sdeutsch's avatar

I have to agree with Jack and osullivan – I love Hamlet, but I don’t have a specific reason why. I think it was the first Shakespeare I ever read where I really truly understood the depth of the story and the beauty of the language – I’d read R&J and Midsummer before that, but they never quite hit me the same way that Hamlet did.

I also have an everlasting love for The Tempest – I’ve done the show several times, and it always has a sort of magic to it that you don’t get from most Shakespeare plays – the power of the storm at the beginning, Prospero’s speech at the end – they give me goosebumps! =)

tWrex's avatar

Yeah I’d have to go with Macbeth. Hamlet is a close second, though. Ask a teenie bopper and they’ll say, “Romeo and Juliet! Oh that’s the best!” to which I have to interject… Seriously. What’s wrong with you. I bet you liked that Leonardo DiCrappio version that totally blew ass too huh.

JackAdams's avatar

@sdeutsch: Actor Charlton Heston invoked the name of Prospero in his address to his fans, when he informed them that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. He is part of that he said from those prepared remarks:

“William Shakespeare, at the end of his career wrote his farewell through the words of Prospero in “The Tempest.” It ends like this:

“Be cheerful, Sir. Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.

“Thank you, and God bless you, every one.”

The transcript of his entire farewell address, can be found here.

JackAdams's avatar

Speaking of movie adaptations, have any of you ever seen Romeo + Juliet where it takes place in an American Verona during modern times (1996) but with the original dialogue unchanged?

It was, as Mr. Spock would say, “fascinating!”

Lightlyseared's avatar

Ah yes with pistols made by rapier and the MP5 great sword or something

sdeutsch's avatar

@Jack: Wow – thanks for the link!

I think that’s why I love Prospero so much – he’s so totally human, and I think it’s easier for us to relate to him than to a lot of Shakespeare’s other characters. Plus, there’s so much hope in those words – he gives up his magic, but the freedom and hope he gets from that create a sort of magic of their own…

sigh – I need to find me a production of Tempest to go see… =)

Lightlyseared's avatar

Well if your in the UK next Febuaury may I recomend this RSC production of the Tempest

JackAdams's avatar

You know, I really must confess how thrilled I am, that so many other members of The Collective are fans of The Bard, because it gives a kind of refreshing change of pace in here, when you see so many questions that are similar to “How do I get my GF to attend (and participate in) a Naked Twister party, where Crisco Oil® is utilized?”

sdeutsch's avatar

Oooh, I might just plan to be in the UK next February… ;)

la_reine's avatar

A Midsummer Night’s Dream… it was the first play I ever directed. I chose it because it has a little bit of everything. It captures the imagination. It’s very adaptable to interpretation. It might seem silly, these lovers chasing each other round the forest, but there are some macabre undertones… Demetrius remains under the spell of the love potion even after the play is over… There are lots of interesting characters, not just one or two protagonists with a load of supporting roles. I think overall the play has a really wide appeal, and a lot of potential to be re-invented in infinite ways. I’ve seen it and read it and studied it so much, and performed in it and I never get bored of it. I can’t wait to be in it again!

JackAdams's avatar

If anyone is interested, I have attended this, and it is very good!

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