Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’re sharing some of Shakespeare’s delightful romantic comedy, “As You Like It,” directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch and produced by Folger Theatre in association with the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. Cast member Antoinette Robinson introduces this scene, in which Rosalind (disguised as a shepherd boy named Ganymede) helps to tutor Orlando in the ways of courtship—while pretending to be his beloved, Rosalind. This lovely bit of wit and wordplay features Lindsay Alexandra Carter as Rosalind and Lorenzo Roberts as Orlando. For more on this production, visit https://bit.ly/3tRaVza
The word “love” appears 2,146 times in Shakespeare’s collected works (including a handful of “loves” and “loved”). Add to that 59 instances of “beloved” and 133 uses of “loving” and you’ve got yourself a “whole lotta love.” So, what does Shakespeare have to say about the subject? Here are 20 quotations from the Bard about love.
“What is Love?”
What does Shakespeare have to say about love? Let’s start with the basics.
“Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: O no! it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken.”
In an interview on Shakespeare Unlimited, Folger Director Emerita Gail Kern Paster noted that Sonnet 116 is a frequent choice for wedding toasts. Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine, editors of The Folger Shakespeare, wrote of this famous sonnet, “The poet here meditates on what he sees as the truest and strongest kind of love, that between minds. He defines such a union as unalterable and eternal.”
“A lover’s eyes will gaze an eagle blind. A lover’s ear will hear the lowest sound, When the suspicious head of theft is stopped. Love’s feeling is more soft and sensible Than are the tender horns of cockled snails. . . . And when love speaks, the voice of all the gods Make heaven drowsy with the harmony.”
In Love’s Labor’s Lost, the King of Navarre and his three friends vow to spend three years cloistered from the world, studying, fasting, and seeing no women. But as soon as they’ve signed the contract, the Princess of France and her three pals show up to meet with the King. Of course, everyone immediately falls in love and the four men have to figure out how to extricate themselves from their solemn oaths. In Act 4, scene 3, Berowne, the wittiest of the four fellows, argues that love, not rigorous study, will make them better men. In fact, Berowne says, love is like a superpower that “gives to every power a double power.” The full speech is a beautiful testament to the gifts of love.
– A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 1, scene 1, lines 240 – 241 “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”
Ulysses is a book in which everything happens and nothing happens. The story of a day in the life of a city — the Hibernian metropolis, as James Joyce saw Dublin — is a journey in a rambling flow of consciousness, where the very serious political issues of the day (the book is set on June 16, 1904) wrestle for space with the mundanities and excitement of the lives of his characters. Speaking of his appreciation for the book, Jeremy Corbyn noted how “Joyce references and richly describes what’s happening in the street. So somebody is holding forth about a big political issue and then the refuse cart goes by.” Edna O’Brien, one of Joyce’s finest biographers, has rightly maintained that “no other writer so effulgently and so ravenously recreated a city.”
Joyce is now eighty years dead, and yet his reputation as a writer whose work is difficult, even daunting to approach, remains. Anthony Burgess would insist that “If ever there was a writer for the people, Joyce was that writer,” yet others saw only pretension and inaccessibility in Joyce’s work, not least Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. Continue reading →