Ever since I hacked into Shakespeare Geek’s blog, I’ve been waiting for him to get within shouting distance of a computer and shut me out. In fact, he tweeted something that made me suspect he was on to me. The expression for the state I’m in is “waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
You may not know that the expression comes from Shakespeare’s day. You see, Thomas Dekker wrote a hilarious comedy called The Shoemaker’s Holiday. It was so popular that audiences were crying out for a sequel. And the Elizabethan theatre was all about the sequel—I mean, three parts to Henry VI?
Everyone thought a sequel was coming, and it was rumored that Shakespeare was going to collaborate on the piece. They were so excited, they felt like they were on pins and needles, only that expression hadn’t been invented yet. So they started saying “We’re waiting for the other Shoemaker’s Holiday to drop.”
Of course, that expression was awkward, so it was shortened to “We’re waiting for the other Shoemaker to drop.” And then it was shortened still further to “We’re waiting for the other Shoe to drop,” giving us the expression we all know and love.
So I’ll keep this up until that shoe drops.
In the meantime, “Let not the creaking of shoes nor the rustling of silks betray thy poor heart to Shakespeare Geek!”
I just read a brief 2001 article by Eric Sterling that argues that Hamlet knew that it was Polonius behind the arras and that he kills him on purpose (rather than killing him by mistake, thinking him to be Claudius).
Here’s his argument in a nutshell:
It’s an interesting idea, but I’m not sure Sterling addresses the counerarguments sufficiently. He asks us to consider the lines “I took thee for thy better” and “For this same lord I do repent” as Hamlet pretending he mistook Polonius for Claudius.
Does Hamlet have enough motive to kill Polonius? If he knows it’s Polonius back there, how can he kill him without a soliloquy examining the pros and cons of such an action?
A few days ago, Taylor Swift announced a new album—the first in several years. It will be called Reputation (Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation, Iago, my reputation!).
Yesterday, she released “Look What You Made Me Do,” the first single from the album. In it, the narrator disclaims all responsibility for her actions, putting that responsibility on the you of the song’s title.
What character or line from Shakespeare most closely fits this song? Is it “O, I am fortune’s fool”? Or the opposite of “The fault is not in our stars but in ourselves”? Or is it more like Edmund’s speech near the beginning of King Lear? He says, “My father compounded with my mother under the dragon’s tail, and my nativity was under ursa major; so that it follows I am rough and lecherous.” Of course, he’s making fun of the idea there, but it might fit.
Any other places where people talk about responsibility in Shakespeare?
It’s Bardfilm! I’ve taken over Shakespeare Geek (the blog, not the guy) while he’s away.
In effect, I’ve seized this bully pulpit.
Teddy Roosevelt coined the term “bully pulpit” to describe the presidency. He meant that it was a terrific (“bully”) place to deliver important messages (“pulpit”).
Shakespeare uses the word “bully” quite a bit. When I was just thinking about it, the only one I could remember was “bully Bottom!” from Midsummer Night’s Dream, but he uses it a lot in Merry Wives of Windsor—and once each in The Tempest and Henry V.
He uses the word “pulpit” in only one play. Can anyone guess which one? Hint: It sounds anachronistic, but it isn’t.
I recently saw Baby Driver, and it had a tiny fragment of Shakespeare in it. Over at Bardfilm, I write a lot about Shakespeare and film, but sometimes the references are so tiny that they don’t merit a full write-up. But now that I’ve seized control of Shakespeare Geek, I can throw up something here quickly.
Yes, that was poorly phrased, but I’ll let it go.
In Baby Driver, one of the bad guys is searching for one of the good guys, and says, “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?”
So it’s the usual confusion of what wherefore actually means—it persists even though SG and I dealt with it in one of our Shakespeare Knock-Knock Jokes (for which, c.v.). In this case, though, I think it’s meant to be a marker of just how uncultured the bad guy is. It helps contribute to what makes him a bad guy. Not only is he a villain and a cad, he doesn’t even know what wherefore means!