Citing Shakespeare For Your Own Purpose

Twice this week I heard stories about people pulling a quote from Shakespeare and using it to make a point that almost certainly was way off base from what the original intended.  But interesting conversation is always good, no? The first (thanks, amusings_bnl!) was this one:

To thine own self be true.

Everybody knows that one, right?  Apparently when looked at from the right angle, it could also mean something like this:  “As long as you think it’s ok, then go ahead and do it.”  That in turn opens up the whole interpretation of living a selfish life, only looking out for #1, and so on.  The other one I just saw on Twitter, where somebody posted:

Hell is empty, and all the devils are here!

Apparently making a statement about the state of the world today.  In this case I pointed out that in context, the “devils” really turn out to be spirit Ariel, who in fact is watching over them and does not let them come to any harm at all.  So perhaps someone with a religious bone in their body (not really my strong suit) could run with that, make some bolder statements about God and how things around us that look like darkest days actually turn out ok?  Sitting here right now I could actually imagine the priest doing that topic as a sermon on Sunday morning.  And I might actually listen :). Got any others?  Pick a quote and argue that it means what you want it to mean.

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One thought on “Citing Shakespeare For Your Own Purpose

  1. I was faced with a group of people who were stereotyping Pittsburghers as a bunch of football fanantical losers. I merely told them “I am native here and to this manner born, but it is a custom more honored in the breach than in the observance.”

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