The Merchant of Venice

Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman

Known as one of the greatest contemporary actors, let’s remember Philip Seymour Hoffman and his work today. He had a great presence both on screen and on stage, appearing in productions of The Merchant of Venice, and Henry V.
In 1995, he appeared in a film version of 15 Minute Hamlet, based on the play by Tom Stoppard. The film is an interesting take on the film industry, and what it would been like had it been around in Shakespeare’s time. You can watch 15 Minute Hamlet here:

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What If Modern Authors Redid Shakespeare?

In June of 2013, Random House imprint Hogarth Press announced that they are commissioning a slate of authors to novelize the complete works of Shakespeare for a modern audience. The launch of these books in 2016 will coincide with the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death.

The roster of illustrious authors who have signed on to modernize Shakespeare’s plays includes Margaret Atwood (The Tempest), Jeannette Winterson (The Winter’s Tale), Anne Tyler (The Taming of the Shrew), Howard Jacobson (The Merchant of Venice), and Jo Nesbo (Macbeth).

With the 400th anniversary only two years away, and 32 plays left unclaimed, Hogarth is running out of time to get these books written, so we thought we’d help them out with suggestions of author and play pairings we’d like to see. We had trouble limiting our imaginations to living authors only though!

jrr-tolkein

J.R.R. Tolkein + Hamlet: Hamlet, Shakespeare’s longest work, is a four hour play about a prince who decides in Act 1 to avenge his father’s death, and after five acts and 3834 lines of flip-flopping, he eventually gets around to it. Who better to take on the dithering Dane than the man who wrote the three-part story of a skittish hobbit who takes 1300 pages to accomplish one task?

stephenie-meyer

Stephenie Meyer + Romeo and Juliet: Despite its reputation as the greatest love story ever told, let’s face it, once Mercutio dies, Romeo and Juliet is a total snooze-fest. In order to appeal to today’s main audience for epic love stories (i.e. tweens), R&J could use an injection of vampire vs. werewolf warfare to pump up the drama. “O Romeo, Romeo, a werewolf art thou, Romeo?”

george-rr-martin

George R.R. Martin + Titus Andronicus: Shakespeare, who was never one to shy away from bloodshed and violence, has a literary soul mate in the bloodthirsty author of the Game of Thrones series. I get chills just imagining what gruesome twists Martin would add to a story already brimming with beheadings, tongue removals, and characters getting baked into pies.

dr-seuss

Dr. Seuss + Timon of Athens: Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens is essentially the plot of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas told in reverse. In this lesser known play, Timon, a wealthy Athenian, blithely bestows his riches on his flaky artist friends, and anyone else who asks. But when his money runs out and his friends abandon him, he renounces human society and runs off to the forest to live in a cave. He spends the rest of his days hating everyone and spouting abuse at anyone who dares to visit.

jasper-fforde

Jasper Fforde + The Tempest: I know Hogarth already has an author for The Tempest, but we couldn’t resist fantasizing about what kinds of transgressions Fforde’s literary detective Thursday Next would call out the characters on Prospero’s island for.

Wordy Wednesday- “Good Riddance”

As the year winds down, I tend to reflect on my accomplishments, my goals (whether realized, in progress, or forgotten), and all the memories made with friends and family. As I reflect, I sometimes think of the song Good Riddance (Time of Your Life). I tend to think of the phrase as a positive, hopeful sentiment for things to come based on the things I’ve learned from past experiences. This is encouraged by the many times I’ve heard the song played at graduation ceremonies. However, I am discovering that I may be misinterpreting its meaning, and as a consequence, misusing the phrase.
According to phrases.org.uk, ‘good riddance’ means: An expression of pleasure on being rid of some annoyance – usually an individual.

I certainly don’t think of the events and achievements of the past as an annoyance, though I’m happy to be past the more difficult, challenging moments. In the context of my personal graduating experiences, I’ve been proud to have earned my way to graduation. Sure, I was happy to be rid of the stress of completing assignments and studying for exams, etc., but I wouldn’t have used the term good riddance to describe my sentiments upon completion of the overall experience. If anything, I felt grateful for all the opportunities I was able to take advantage of, and proud of all the obstacles I was able to overcome.
How does this all relate to Shakespeare you ask? The phrase “good riddance” appears to have been coined by Shakespeare in Troilus and Cressida.

Thersites. I will hold my peace when Achilles’ brach bids me, shall I?

Achilles. There’s for you, Patroclus.

Thersites. I will see you hanged, like clotpoles, ere I come
any more to your tents: I will keep where there is
wit stirring and leave the faction of fools.975

[Exit]
Patroclus. A good riddance.

In this context, it appears that Shakespeare used the phrase in the same way as defined above.
A variation is also seen in The Merchant of Venice.

 Morocco. Then, farewell, heat, and welcome, frost! Portia, adieu. I have too grieved a heart To take a tedious leave: thus losers part. Exit with his train. Flourish of cornets

Portia. A gentle riddance. Draw the curtains, go. Let all of his complexion choose me so.

I’ve also heard “good riddance” used as a euphemism in the same way we might use the phrase “good grief”.

Wordy Wednesday!

Today’s Wordy Wednesday is the phrase the ‘truth will out’.

 

Nay, indeed, if you had your eyes, you might fail of
the knowing me: it is a wise father that knows his
own child. Well, old man, I will tell you news of
your son: give me your blessing: truth will come
to light; murder cannot be hid long; a man’s son
may, but at the length truth will out.

The Merchant of Venice [II. ii. 640-45]

 

Launcelot Gobbo is telling Old Gobbo not to worry, as the truth will surely be discovered in the end. He shortens his previous assertion ‘the truth will come to light’ with an even more emphatic declaration of certainty – ‘the truth will out’.  In this scene, however, Launcelot can afford to proclaim with such a level of certainty that the truth about Old Gobbo’s son will soon be uncovered, as he is in fact that very son – fooling his blind father who did not recognize his voice.

 

O heavens, this is my true-begotten father!
who, being more than sand-blind, high-gravel blind,
knows me not: I will try confusions with him.

The Merchant of Venice [II. ii. 600-02]

 

The phrase ‘the truth will out’ had been in use in England from the Fifteenth Century and appeared in print when The Merchant of Venice was first published in the First Quarto in 1600. Dictionary.com defines the phrase as meaning: ‘One way or another, in spite of all efforts to conceal it, the truth will come to be known’. A related idiomatic phrase with similar connotations is ‘murder will out’.  The Dictionary.com definition for this phrase is: ‘Crime or wrongdoing will eventually be discovered and punished as certain news cannot be suppressed’. This expression had already appeared in Chaucer’s The Nun’s Priest’s Tale:  “Murder will out that we see day by day.” [Circa 1390]

 

The phrase ‘the truth will out’ has travelled from the mouth of the actor playing Launcelot Gobbo on ‘The Theatre’ stage during the first performances of The Merchant of Venice in 1598, to being uttered by Mark Williams – playing Arthur Weasley in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

index

“As the Muggles say, truth will out”

– declares Arthur Weasley, as he leads Harry down to the Ministry of Magic’s underage wizardry hearing.

By Linda Nicoll

 

References:

 

The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy – Third Edition. 2005 Houghton Mifflin Company

The British Library: ‘Shakespeare in Quarto’ – The Merchant of Venice Early Performances and Publication. London 2013 http://www.bl.uk/treasures/shakespeare/merchantbibs.html [Accessed 17 April 2013]

Open Source Shakespeare: ‘The Merchant of Venice’ George Mason University 2013 http://www.opensourceshakespeare.com/views/plays/play_view.php?WorkID=merchantvenice&Act=2&Scene=2&Scope=scene [Accessed 17 April 2013]

Dictionary.com: ‘Cultural Dictionary’ 2013 http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/truth+will+out [Accessed 17 April 2013]

Dictionary.com: ‘Cultural Dictionary’ 2013 http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/murder%20will%20out [Accessed 17 April 2013]

The English Club: ‘Reference – Sayings’ 2013 http://www.englishclub.com/ref/esl/Sayings/Quizzes/Truth/Truth_will_out_942.htm [Accessed 17 April 2013]

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Dir. David Yates) Warner Bros. 2007 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0373889/ [Accessed 17 April 2013]

 

What if Shakespeare…had the world’s worst CAT?

I cannot choose: sometime he angers me /With telling me of the mouldwarp and the ant, /Of the dreamer Merlin and his prophecies, /And of a dragon and a finless fish, /A clip-wing’d griffin and a moulten raven, /A couching lion and a ramping cat. [1] Some, that are mad if they behold a cat; /And others, when the bagpipe sings i’ the nose, /Cannot contain their urine. [2] I could endure any thing before but a cat, and now he’s a cat to me. [3] civet is of a baser birth than tar. [4] You fur your gloves with reason. [5]

Purr! the cat is gray. [6] Like the poor cat i’ the adage. [7] Since we have locks to safeguard necessaries, /And pretty traps to catch the petty thieves. [8] If the cat will after kind [9], pray you, sir, use the carp as you may. [10]

The cat, with eyne of burning coal, /Now crouches fore the mouse’s hole; [11] Yet, foul night-waking cat, he doth but dally. [12] Come on your ways; open your mouth; here is that which will give language to you, cat: open your mouth. [13] The cat will mew, and dog will have his day. [14]

A pox on him, he’s a cat still. [15] Hang off, thou cat, thou burr! vile thing, let loose, /Or I will shake thee from me like a serpent! [16] Zounds … a cat, to scratch a man to death! […] Why the devil came you between us? I was hurt under your arm. [17]

Shakespeare re-arranged by Zhan Zhang.

References:

1) Henry IV, Part I [III. 1.1693-1698]

2) Merchant of Venice [IV. 1. 1980]

3) All’s Well That Ends Well [IV. 3. 2320]

4) As You Like It [III. 2. 1180]

5) Troilus and Cressida [II. 2. 1028]

6) King Lear [III. 6. 2049]

7) Macbeth [I. 7. 522]

8) Henry V [I. 2. 321]

9) As You Like It [III. 2. 1213]

10) All’s Well That Ends Well [V. 2. 2636]

11) Pericles [III. 0. 1123]

12) Rape of Lucrece 605

13) Tempest [II. 2. 1171]

14) Hamlet [V, 1.3638]

15) All’s Well That Ends Well [IV. 3. 2357]

16) Midsummer Night’s Dream [III. 2.1303]

17) Romeo and Juliet [III. 1. 1605-1609]

What if Shakespeare…were a PIRATE?

16940_flags_pirates_pirate_flag

[The Pirate’s Code]

I must obey (1). I drink the air before me (2). I’ll confine myself no finer than I am. These clothes are good enough to drink in, and so be these boots too. An they be not, let them hang themselves in their own straps (3). My commission is not to reason of the deed, but to do’t (4). When I was born: Never was waves nor wind more violent; and from the ladder-tackle washes off a canvas-climber (5).

Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore, So do (my) minutes hasten to their end; Each changing place with that which goes before, In sequent toil all forwards do contend (6). I am not such an ass, but I can keep my hand dry (7). My very walk should be a jig (8).

My stars shine darkly over me (9), (and yet) my bounty is as boundless as the sea (10), (upon which) my drink and good counsel will amend (11). Heigh, my hearts! Cheerly, cheerly, my hearts! Yare, yare! Take in the topsail. Tend to the master’s whistle (12).

Ships are but boards, sailors but men; there be land-rats and water-rats, land-thieves and water-thieves (13). (But I am a) notable pirate (14). One foot in sea, and one on shore, To one thing constant never (15).

Our legions are brim-full, our cause is ripe (16). On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves. Or lose our ventures (17). (We) must obey (18).

1) Twelfth Night, III. iv. 299
2) The Tempest, V. i. 102
3) Twelfth Night, I. iii. 129-131
4) Pericles, IV. i. 88-89
5) Pericles, IV. i. 63-66
6) Sonnet 60, 1-4
7) Twelfth Night, I. iii. 65-66
8) Twelfth Night, I. iii. 115
9) Twelfth Night, II. i. 2
10) Romeo and Juliet, II. ii. 133-134
11) Twelfth Night, I. v. 43-44
12) The Tempest, I. i. 9-12
13) The Merchant of Venice, I. iii. 19-21
14) Twelfth Night, V. i. 63
15) Much Ado About Nothing, II. iii. 46-47
16) Julius Caesar, IV. iii. 221
17) Julius Caesar, IV. iii. 228-229
18) Twelfth Night, III. iv. 299

(Shakespearrr re-arranged by Vineeta)

What if Shakespeare…LIVE-TWEETED WRITING HIS FIRST SONNET?

In honour of our upcoming Sonnets by Kids event – the most adorable Valentine’s idea of all time! – let’s imagine that Shakespeare was trying to preserve every moment of his creative process for the ages.

(NB: The Dark Lady is the name we give to the anonymous woman who inspired many of Shakespeare’s sonnets; Christopher Marlowe was Shakespeare’s only plausible rival among the Elizabethan playwrights, who died too young to reach his full potential. Anne Hathaway (!) was Shakespeare’s wife who lived far from London.)

Shakespeare Twitter

————————————————————————————————————–

DarkLady: @WillShakes Truly, I would the gods had made thee poetical. (1) #BoredofAvon

WillShakes: @DarkLady I do not know what ‘poetical’ is. Is it honest in deed and word? Is it a true thing? (2)

DarkLady: @MarloweFabulous @WillShakes D: What’s here? the portrait of a blinking idiot, Presenting me a schedule!  (3)

MarloweFabulous: @DarkLady @WillShakes virginity is peevish, proud, idle, made of self-love, which is the most inhibited sin in the canon. (4) #getoveryself

WillShakes: @DarkLady Assist me, some extemporal god of rhyme, for I am sure I shall turn sonnet. Devise, wit; write, pen! (5) #WritingUSonnets

DarkLady: I’ll believe as soon This whole earth may be bored. (6)

WillShakes: @DarkLady “From fairest creatures we desire increase, / That thereby beauty’s rose might never…” (7) — melt? break? fry? #wordchoicelesigh

WillShakes: Oh – die! “rose might never die” (should not have been so hard 😦 oh well)

WillShakes: (I have heard a sonnet begin so to one’s mistress.) (8) So it’s all about ‘we want more of you!’ 🙂

DarkLady: If thou say so, villain, Thou kill’st thy mistress. (9) Tush, none but minstrels like of sonneting! (10)

WillShakes: @DarkLady “But as the riper should by time decease, / His tender heir might bear his memory.”  (11) Better?

WillShakes: My sister wants me to talk about the “marriage of true minds” (12) – guess she missed mine. #hathawayfollies

MarloweFabulous: @WillShakes Thy marriage, sooner than thy wickedness. (13)

WillShakes: @MarloweFabulous You’re shallow, madam, in great friends; for the knaves come to do that for me which I am aweary of. (14) ;P

DarkLady: @WillShakes If you’re going to write this stop interrupting and explain what you mean, this is pretty abstract 😡

WillShakes: AAAGGHHH BACK TO WORK TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY THIS IS TITUS ALL OVER AGAIN #betterin1590

WillShakes: Where were we again – wait – hang on – ok, here we go, on a roll, just gonna post these as I get ’em:

WillShakes: @DarkLady “From fairest creatures we desire increase, / That thereby beauty’s rose might never die”(15) = there should always be more you!

WillShakes: @DarkLady “But as the riper should by time decease, / His tender heir might bear his memory.” (16) = it’s okay, you’ll have cute babies!

WillShakes: @DarkLady “But thou contracted to thine own bright eyes, / Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel,” (17) = oh no, you’re too vain to think about kids!

WillShakes: @DarkLady”Making a famine where abundance lies, / Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:” (18) = that means you might leave the world w/o your looks!

WillShakes: @DarkLady”Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament, And only herald to the gaudy spring,” (19) = honestly lady, you’re life & beauty incarnate!

WillShakes: @DarkLady”Within thine own bud buriest thy content, And tender churl mak’st waste in niggarding:” (20) = so don’t ‘save yourself’ – there’s enough win for everyone!

WillShakes: @DarkLady”Pity the world, or else this glutton be, / To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.” (21) = better have kids or you’ll have wasted PERFECT GENES ;P

DarkLady: @WillShakes …It shall suffice, sir. (22) ;3  So rude, but so funny! It’s you all over, really.

DarkLady: @WillShakes I probably should get on the kids thing, considering my super-secret identity (you know)…usual time? 😉

WillShakes: I need to write more of these; so much easier than a whole play! #moneyfornothing

LizziesaurusRex: @WillShakes And that would set my teeth nothing on edge, Nothing so much as mincing poetry (23) – keep writing plays. Not a request.

WillShakes: @Lizziesaurus Rex My precious queen, forebear. (24) Side project it is. I’ll give it a title later. Maybe ‘The Alpha Sonnet’? Eh, just ‘Sonnet 1’ for now.

 

(Shakespeare rearranged/interpolated/mangled by David)

Sources:

(1) Touchstone, As You Like It (III.iii.1517)

(2) Audrey, As You Like It (III.iii.1518-19)

(3) Prince of Aragon, The Merchant of Venice (II.ix.1184-5)

(4) Parolles, All’s Well That Ends Well (I.i.146-8)

(5) Don Adriano, Love’s Labor’s Lost (I.ii.479-81)

(6) Hermia, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (III.ii.1085-8)

(7) Sonnet 1

(8) Duke of Orleans, Henry VIII (III.vii.1681)

(9) Cleopatra, Antony and Cleopatra, (IV.iii.1082-3)

(10) Biron, Love’s Labor’s Lost (IV.iii.1489-90)

(11) Sonnet 1

(12) Sonnet 116

(13) Countess, As You Like It (I.iii.358)

(14) Clown, All’s Well That Ends Well (I.iii.362-3)

(15) Sonnet 1

(16) Sonnet 1

(17) Sonnet 1

(18) Sonnet 1

(19) Sonnet 1

(20) Sonnet 1

(21) Sonnet 1

(22) Francis Feeble, Henry IV Part 2 (III.ii.2021)

(23) Hotspur, Henry IV Part 1 (III.1.1677-9)

(24) Antony, Antony and Cleopatra (I.iii.382)