Posted in Male speaker, Speeches

To Be or Not to Be

Background:

“To be or not to be, that is the question” is undoubtedly a famous line. This line is actually part of a monologue found in William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. The tragedy is about Prince Hamlet of Denmark who is haunted by his father’s ghost. He has to avenge his father’s death by killing his uncle and usurper to the throne, Claudius, who has married his mother after becoming king.

Hamlet returns home to a much changed Denmark. The play centers around Hamlet’s descent into madness (and the debate on whether or not he is genuinely insane or just pretending). The monologue is about his musings on how human life is fleeting and very trivial compared to many things. He reflects on life and death.

To be or not to be
Act 3. Scene 1.

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ‘tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.–Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember’d.

For those who would rather read modernized lines side-by-side Shakespeare’s writings, you can buy No Fear, Shakespeare: Hamlet.

Posted in Male speaker, Speeches

All The World’s a Stage

Background:

A famous quote that has circulated around the internet, “All the world’s a stage” is from William Shakespeare’s comedy, As You Like It. The speaker, Jacques, expresses that everyone on earth has a role to play and that many of us have different roles and wear different masks in one lifetime.

All the World’s a Stage
Act 2. Scene 7.

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.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel,
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even 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 sixth 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 everything.

For those who want to read modernized texts side-by-side Shakespeare’s writings, you can look up the No Fear, Shakespeare series.

Posted in Male speaker, Speeches

Tomorrow and Tomorrow (or Out, Out, Brief Candle)

Background:

Tomorrow and Tomorrow, or sometimes known as Out, Out Brief Candle is a heartfelt monologue delivered by Macbeth, William Shakespeare’s tragic hero in his play, Macbeth.

This speech is said by Macbeth after learning that his wife has died, knowing that he is seeing the ghosts of former friends he had killed to secure his power, and coming to the realization that almost everything is falling apart and that life is like a candle – brief and uncertain. One small breeze and the light will flicker and die.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow (or Out, Out, Brief Candle!)

Act 5. Scene 5.
She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
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. Out, 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,
Signifying nothing.

Posted in Male speaker, Speeches

Shylock’s Justification for Revenge

Background:

Shylock’s Justification for Revenge is a well-known monologue by a Shakespearean villain. Shylock is a Jew. He is a merchant who has often been oppressed. This does not make him a victim, though, because Shylock also tricks and deceives others. One of his fellow merchants is Antonio, who owes him a great debt. Shylock demands a piece of Antonio’s flesh as payment. Shylock feels that his offer is justified because of the many times he has been cheated off his earnings because of his being a Jew.

The play is also memorable because of a subplot concerning a very smart woman, Portia, who disguises herself as a man and defends Antonio as his lawyer during the trial.

Shylock’s Justification

Act 3. Scene 1.
To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else,
it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and
hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses,
mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my
bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine
enemies; and what’s his reason? I am a Jew. Hath
not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian,
what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian
wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by
Christian example? Why, revenge. The villany you
teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I
will better the instruction.

For those who want to read modernized texts side-by-side Shakespeare’s writings, you can look up the No Fear, Shakespeare Merchant of Venice and other versions with modernized texts for comparison.

Posted in Female speaker, Speeches

Till I Have No Wife I Have Nothing

Background:

This monologue is from the play All’s Well That Ends Well, a comedy by William Shakespeare. The speech is delivered by Helena, who is very much in love with her husband Bertram. Unfortunately, Bertram is not in love with her and has gone to Italy. Helena receives a letter from her husband stating that he will not go back to France to live with her.

Depressed, Helena delivers this monologue:

Till I Have No Wife I Have Nothing

Act 3. Scene 2.
“Till I have no wife I have nothing in France.”
Nothing in France until he has no wife!
Thou shalt have none, Rossillion, none in France;
Then hast thou all again. Poor Lord, is’t I
That chase thee from thy country and expose
Those tender limbs of thine to the event
Of the none-sparing war? And is it I
That drive thee from the sportive court, where thou
Wast shot at with fair eyes, to be the mark
Of smoky muskets? O you leaden messengers,
That ride upon the violent speed of fire,
Fly with false aim, move the still ‘pearing air
That sings with piercing, do not touch my lord;
Whoever shoots at him, I set him there;
Whoever charges on his forward breast,
I am the caitiff that do hold him to’t;
And though I kill him not, I am the cause
His death was so effected. Better ’twere
I met the ravin lion when he roared
With sharp constraint of hunger; better ’twere
That all the miseries which nature owes
Were mine at once. No, come thou home, Rossillion,
Whence honor but of danger wins a scar,
As oft it loses all. I will be gone;
My being here it is that holds thee hence.
Shall I stay here to do’t? No, no, although
The air of paradise did fan the house
And angels officed all. I will be gone,
That pitiful Rumor may report my flight
To consolate thine ear. Come, night—end, day,
For with the dark (poor thief) I’ll steal away.

For those who want to read modernized texts side-by-side Shakespeare’s writings, you can look up:

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Posted in Female speaker, Speeches

This Knot of Life at Once Untie

Background:
This piece is delivered by Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt in a Shakespearean play, Antony and Cleopatra. Cleopatra’s lover, Marc Antony, has been defeated by Julius Caesar’s successor, Octavius or August Caesar. Rather than brought to Rome as spoils of war, Cleopatra asks her handmaids to bring her asp (a snake). Cleopatra, in her room, kills herself.

This Knot of Life at Once Untie
Act 5. Scene 2.

Give me my robe, put on my crown—I have
Immortal longings in me. Now no more
The juice of Egypt’s grape shall moist this lip.
Yare, yare, good Iras, quick—methinks I hear
Antony call; I see him rouse himself
To praise my noble act; I hear him mock
The luck of Caesar, which the gods give men
To excuse their after wrath. Husband, I come!
Now to that name my courage prove my title!
I am fire and air—my other elements
I give to baser life. So, have you done?
Come then and take the last warmth of my lips.
Farewell, kind Charmian; Iras, long farewell.
[Kisses them. Iras falls and dies]
Have I the aspic in my lips? Dost fall?
If thou and nature can so gently part,
The stroke of death is as a lover’s pinch,
Which hurts and is desired. Dost thou lie still?
If thus thou vanishest, thou tellst the world
It is not worth leave-taking.

If she first meet the curlèd Antony,
He’ll make demand of her, and spend that kiss
Which is my heaven to have. Come, thou mortal wretch,
[To an asp which she applies to her breast]
With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate
Of life at once untie. Poor venomous fool,
Be angry, and dispatch. O, couldst thou speak,
That I might hear thee call great Caesar ass
Unpolicied!

For those who want to read modernized texts side-by-side Shakespeare’s writings, you can look up the No Fear, Shakespeare series.

Posted in Female speaker, Speeches

Though You Have No Beauty

Background:

Delivered by Rosalind in the comedy As You Like It, this is one of Shakespeare’s famous monologues for women. Rosalind and her cousin Celia have been banished by their uncle, the duke. They hide out in the forest, Rosalind disguised as a man “Ganymede”. She finds out that Orlando, the love of her life, is also hiding in the forest.

In this scene, “Ganymede” is waiting for Orlando, who is running late. While waiting, Rosalind and her cousin witness a man trying to woo a shepherdess who does not love him in return. Rosalind jumps into the fray and delivers this speech.

Though You Have No Beauty

Act 3. Scene 5.
And why, I pray you? Who might be your mother,
That you insult, exult, and all at once,
Over the wretched? What though you have no beauty—
As, by my faith, I see no more in you
Than without candle may go dark to bed—
Must you be therefore proud and pitiless?
Why, what means this? Why do you look on me?
I see no more in you than in the ordinary
Of Nature’s sale-work. ‘Od’s my little life,
I think she means to tangle my eyes too!
No, faith, proud mistress, hope not after it.
’Tis not your inky brows, your black silk hair,
Your bugle eyeballs, nor your cheek of cream
That can entame my spirits to your worship.
You foolish shepherd, wherefore do you follow her,
Like foggy South, puffing with wind and rain?
You are a thousand times a properer man
Than she a woman. ’Tis such fools as you
That makes the world full of ill-favored children.
’Tis not her glass but you that flatters her,
And out of you she sees herself more proper
Than any of her lineaments can show her.
But, mistress, know yourself. Down on your knees,
And thank Heaven, fasting, for a good man’s love;
For I must tell you friendly in your ear,
Sell when you can—you are not for all markets.
Cry the man mercy, love him, take his offer;
Foul is most foul, being foul to be a scoffer.
So take her to thee, shepherd. Fare you well.