What Are Some Of Your Favorite Moments in Shakespeare?

I’m not a big fan of “favorites” when it comes to Shakespeare – I like to play the “that’s like picking a favorite child” card.  But part of the reason for that is because every play has got some good and some bad, something to recommend and something to avoid, none of them are perfect.

So instead let’s play Moments.  Doesn’t have to be a scene, or a line.  I’m not interested so much in the “what” as I am in the “why”?  Explain for me when, during the course of a particular play, you feel like everything hinges on this one moment?  Maybe it’s just one character’s chance to do something right. Maybe it gives ultimate insight into your favorite interpretation of the character. Maybe it’s one of those lines that rockets through 400 years and hits you square in the heart like it happened 5 minutes ago.

Examples

King Lear‘s “Why is my man in the stocks?” scene.  I wrote about this at length when Commonwealth Shakespeare did the play a few years back, and having rediscovered that post this scene is what gave me the idea for the post.  It’s not the line that’s important. I can’t even tell you the act and scene in which it occurs.  But that image of the king, who previously had people falling to their knees whenever he looked at them crossly, now being unable to get his question answered? Just does something for me.  This is the unraveling.

Emilia’s confrontation of Othello.  How she discovers what has happened, and how she is implicated in Desdemona’s murder?  Her first thought isn’t, “How can I get out of this?” her first thought is to confront her husband.  Bold move, since she has the most insight into just how dangerous he is.

Who else has some good ones?

 

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5 thoughts on “What Are Some Of Your Favorite Moments in Shakespeare?

  1. In Much Ado, the part where Beatrice and Benedict have been having their merry war of words, and when Don Pedro jokingly chides her for having “lost the heart” of Signor Benedict, she agrees that she did bc once he won it off her with “false dice.” It just sums up so sadly why their merry war is not so merry as others might think. It always makes me a little sad, thinking Benedict may have made a joke of romancing her, while underneath they both really cared for each other.

    1. Nice, and exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. Makes me wonder, are we supposed to assume that B&B used to be a couple? Or at least slept together? I prefer thinking that is not the case, but maybe I’m wrong.

      1. They certainly did have a past relationship; it is mentioned several times by Beatrice. She felt wronged by him, and in some ways, he too, is smarting. It is doubtful that the relationship was sexual…Benedict speaks of her virtue. Virtue and purity went hand in hand.

  2. I love moments that can have multiple interpretations and require an actor or director to make specific choices about motivation and characterization: Hamlet choosing not to kill Claudius, Hal’s “I do. I will.”, Coriolanus finally breaking to his mother’s will, Beatrice calling for Claudio’s death and Benedick’s reaction, the wooing of Anne by Richard…and probably fifty more if I keep thinking. These are moments that keep Shakespeare fresh and endlessly interesting.

  3. “I know you all, and will awhile uphold
    The unyoked humour of your idleness” from 1HIV, I.ii

    Absolutely this section – it’s chilling, and sets up a dramatic irony that leaves an unsettling aftertaste to all Hal’s dealings with Falstaff et al over the next two, perhaps three, plays.

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