Methinks ’tis Talketh Like Shakespeare Day

23 Apr

Zounds and egads! Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the city of Chicago have proclaimed today, the 445th anniversary of English playwright William Shakespeare’s birth, as “Talk Like Shakespeare Day.”

In celebration of Shakespeare’s contributions to language and literature, Chicago’s Mayor Richard M. Daley encourages us to use 16th century language, such as “prithee,” “thou,” “fie,” and “knave.” And the Chicago Shakespeare Theater asks us not to forget to use rhyming couplets, “thou” and “thee,” “sirrah,” and curses and insults like “poisonous bunch-back’d toads.”

“It’s not surprising that we remember Shakespeare today,” says Paula McQuade, associate professor and director of DePaul’s graduate program in English and expert on Shakespeare and Renaissance literature.  “His plays and sonnets have stood the test of time due to their beauty, intricacy and influence on modern literature and culture.”

Check out one of McQuade’s favorite Shakespeare passages, courtesy of Kenneth Branagh’s “Hamlet”:

McQuade breaks down the soliloquy for those of us who are rusty on our Shakespeare:

“The passage is an incredibly beautiful examination of what it means to be a human being, and more specifically,  a human being in Hamlet’s predicament. In this speech, Hamlet suggests that human beings are different from beasts because we do not live soley to satisfy our appetites. We have reason to guide us in our actions, but reason is a double edged-sword. It can prevent us from acting just as much as it might urge us to action. Hamlet concludes that in order to be fully human, we have to maintain this difficult balance: we must use reason wisely and not let our human habit of ‘thinking too precisely upon th’ event’ keep us from acting.”

Prithee, tell us how you are celebrating “Talk Like Shakespeare Day.” Don’t be a tongueless toad-spotted flirt-gill! (as Shakespeare’s contemporaries might say.)

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