2016 will be the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. In preparation for the vent, Victoria Bos writes about the craziest characters in his plays.
William Shakespeare is regarded by many to be one of the finest wordsmiths the world has even seen. Throughout his career he wrote over 35 plays, consisting of comedies, histories and tragedies, as well as 154 sonnets. April 2016 marks the 400 year anniversary of his death, and as such now seems like an appropriate time to examine some of his most memorable and craziest characters. So, in no particular order:
(A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
“Methought I was,—and methought I had,—but man is but a patched fool, if he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was.”
Bottom the weaver fits in well in this comedy of errors. Wishing to take on every role in the play the workmen are to perform before then falling fowl of Puck’s work and being turned into a donkey for the fairy queen Titania to fall in love with. Poor Bottom seems to get his comeuppance for his arrogance, and generally plays the fool in every situation, even if he thinks otherwise.
“I will grind your bones to dust and with your blood and it I’ll make a paste, and of the paste a coffin I will rear and make two pasties of your shameful heads.”
The namesake character of arguably Shakespeare’s bloodiest play. Upon discovering the two brothers who molested and mutilated his daughter he proceeds to kill them and bake them into a pie to feed to their mother. Some would say, in this case, the bard created the character of Hannibal Lecter 300 years early.
Lear (King Lear)
“I have full cause of weeping, but this heart shall break into a hundred thousand flaws or ere I’ll weep. O fool, I shall go mad!”
There is almost a moral lesson in this character’s descent into madness as he grants his kingdom to the two daughters, and their husbands, who flatter him, only to be denied by them later. This leads to the death of his final daughter Cordelia and thus his own as well as some interesting dynamics and scenes and the king is brought to his knees and seems to lose his wits.
Capulet (Romeo and Juliet)
“To go with Paris to Saint Peter’s Church, Or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither. Out, you green-sickness carrion! Out, you baggage! You tallow-face!”
I wouldn’t call this one a best loved or known character, but he certainly can be seen as memorable. With some serious anger issues Capulet is prepared to disinherit, or indeed kill, his only child if Juliet refuses to marry Paris.
(Much Ado About Nothing)
“O that he were here to write me down an ass! But, masters, remember that I am an
ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass.”
A rather incompetent police constable who catches one of the villains more by luck than judgement. The audience, and indeed the other characters, are never quite sure what he’s talking about, proving that he really is an “ass”.
by Victoria Bos