From the doomed Othello, who first assumed a "foregone conclusion," to the impetuous Mercutio, who went off on the first "wild-goose chase," here are several hundred of the most famous lines and newly minted words from Shakespeare's canon. Each phrase is presented with background notes, explanations, and literary anecdotes that set it in its original context. With a new filmography of the finest Shakespeare movies, Brush Up Your Shakeapeare! is an accessible and entertaining guide for Bard aficionados and amateurs alike.
- The gargantuan Sir Falstaff was the first unwelcome guest to eat his hostess "out of house and home"
- Juliet thought that parting from her Young Romeo was "such sweet sorrow"
- Macbeth believed himself to be "a sorry sight"
- It was Rosalind who desired "too much of a good thing"
- Lady Macbeth realized that "what's done is done"
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About the Author
Michael Macrone is the author of nine entertaining guides to literary and intellectual history. His specialties include the Shakespeare canon, classical writings, mythology, the Bible, and great ideas. He lives in San Francisco, California.
Read an Excerpt
All the World's a StageJAQUES:All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts beng seven ages.
The idea that "all the world's stage" was already cliched when Shakespeare wrote As You LIke It. So Jaques is intended to sound at least a little pretentious here. Jaques (pronounced "Jay-keys" or 'jay-kweez") is the resident sourpuss in the Forest of Arden, home to political exiles, banished lovers, and simle shepherds. Picking up on another character's stray suggestion that the world is a "wide and universal theater," Jaques deploys the theatrical metaphor for his famous speech on the Seven Ages of Man. The first of these ages, according to Jaques, is infancy (when a babe is found "Mewling [sobbing] and puking in his nurse's arms"), and the last is "second childishness and mere oblivion" (complete senility). His glum epigrams make up a "set speech"; Shakespeare meant them to sound practiced, like a bit of oratory polished off and hauled out on the appropriate (or inappropriat) occasion.