William Shakespeare, HUMAN NATURE AND THE HUMAN CONDITION
THE NOBILITY OF THE
Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii. lines 310—313
What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals.
THE DARK SIDE OF LIFE
Henry the Eighth, Act III, Scene ii. lines 4 14—428
Farewell! a long farewell, to all my greatness!
This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hopes; to-morrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honours thick upon him;
The third day come a frost, a killing frost, And when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a-ripening, nips his root,
And then he falls, as I do. I have ventur’d,
Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,
This many summers in a sea of glory,
But far beyond my depth: my high-blown pride
At length broke under me, and now has left me,
Weary and old with service, to the mercy
Of a rude stream, that must for ever hide me.
Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye.
Macbeth, Act V, Scene v. lines 20—29
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Our, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Measure for Measure, Act III, Scene i. lines 130—144
Ay, but to die, and go we know not where,
To lie in cold obstruction and to rot,
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice,
To be imprison’d in the viewless winds,
And blown with restless violence round about
The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
Of those that lawless and incertain thought
Imagine howling: ‘tis too horrible!
The weariest and most loathed worldly life
That age, ache, penury and imprisonment
Can lay -on nature is a paradise
To what we fear of death.
THE ROLES WE PLAY
As You Like It, Act II, Scene vii. lines 143—170
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 being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble Reputation
E’en in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixt age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion—
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every-
LOVE AND LOVERS
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V, Scene i. lines 4—11
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover, and the poet,
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is the madman; the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of
Troilus and Cressida, Act III, Scene ii. lines 144—146
But you are wise, Or else you love not; for to be wise and love Exceeds man’s might. That dwells with gods above.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act III, Scene i. lines 81—105
Duke. There is a lady of
Whom I affect; but she is nice and coy
And nought esteems my aged eloquence.
Now therefore, would I have thee to my tutor,— For long agone I have forgot to court;
Besides, the fashion of the time is chang’d— How and which way I may bestow myself
To be tegarded in her sun-bright eye.
Val(entine) Win her with gifts, if she
respect not words.
Dumb jewels often in their silent kind
More than quick words do move a woman’s mind.
Duke, But she did scorn a present that I sent her.
Val. A woman sometime scorns what best contents her.
Send her another; never give her o’er,
For scorn at first makes after-love the more.
If she do frown, ‘tis not in hate of you,
But rather to beget more love in you;
If she do chide, ‘tis not to have you gone;
For why the fools are mad if left alone.
Take no repulse, whatever she doth say;
For ‘get you gone,’ she doth not mean ‘away!’
Flatter and praise, commend, extol their graces;
Though ne’er so black, say they have angels’ faces.
That man that hath a tongue, I say, is no man,
If with his tongue he cannot win a woman.
As You Like It, Act III, Scene ii. lines 359—364
ate you so much in love as your rhymes speak?
Orl(ando). Neithet rhyme nor reason can express how much.
Ros. Love is merely a madness and, I tell you, deserves as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do. And the reason why they are not so punish’d and cured is that the lunacy is so ordinary that the whippers are in love too.*
Much Ado About Nothing, Act II, Scene iii. lines 60—68
Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more, Men were deceivers ever;
One foot in sea, and one on shore, To one thing constant never.
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe Into Hey nonny, nonny.
*The whip and the dark room represented the extent of Elizabethan treatment of the insane.