cliche: random shakespeare/bible quotation

I’ve seen this a lot in different tv shows and movies and it always strikes me as odd: a character in dialogue with the protagonists chooses to randomly quote a Shakespeare play or a verse from the bible, a quote that is often followed by the protagonist not only recognizing the quote but also continuing it with painstaking accuracy.

Now, I may just not be the kind of person to memorize passages like this, but I wouldn’t learn a quote by heart unless it was really something I was obsessively interested in. I might read Macbeth, but I certainly wouldn’t learn to recognize every single piece of text from it like it was the back of my hand.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of people who are obsessively interested in Shakespeare and the Bible.

When I was a teenager, I was so Shakespeare-crazy that I knew every word of my two favorite plays, Hamlet and Richard III. I didn’t sit down intending to memorize them; it just happened.

He who so remembereth is forever thought to be most amongst conceit.

-Complacence 1:11

On top of that, they rarely quote King John, for instance. The quote is usually from a well-known play, or a reasonably well-known line from an obscure play. Nobody, but nobody reads, watches, or memorizes Henry VI, Part 2, but most can complete the following quote:

Cade: There shall be in England seven halfpenny loaves sold for a penny; the three-hooped pot shall have ten hoops; and I will make it a felony to drink small beer. All the realm shall be in common, and in Cheapside shall my palfrey go to pass. And when I am king – as king I will be – there shall be no money; all shall eat and drink on my score; and I will apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree like brothers, and worship me their lord.


I remember some sitcom where some self-satisfied girl was going on about the “Let’s kill all the lawyers quote,” whereupon an adult pointed out that she had taken the quote completely out of context and, in fact, ran opposite to the point she wanted to make.

I wouldn’t be so sure of that. As I mentioned above, I was a huge Shakespeare buff when I was young. In the early 1960s, a television series called An Age of Kings, which consisted of several the English history plays, caught my interest, and even the Henry VI plays stuck in my mind. This was several years before Star Trek entered my life, and a new obsession arose.

The first thing we do is killl all the lawyers.

As to the OP, my favorite of this came from The West Wing. An obnoxis but popular radio hostess who frequently quotes the bible to taunt gays gets her ass handed to her by President Bartlet.


Using something he clearly got from an e-mail forward. :wink:

I beg your pardon! :slight_smile:

The Henry VIs are my favorite of Shakespeare’s histories – I wish they were produced more often! Margaret of Anjou is one of the all-time greats, and there’s fantastic monologues from nearly everyone in the cast. Murder! Intrigue! Adultery! The French! Mini-Richard III! What’s not to love?

Figures. Say that anywhere else, and you’ll get complete agreement or blank looks. Here, every third posters not only knows swaths of Henry VI and King John by heart, but they can discuss it critically. :smack:

How about Love’s Labours Won? Anybody read that one? :stuck_out_tongue:

I have a supervisor who goes all damp around the edges when I declaim the “To be or not to be” soliloquy from Hamlet.

No, some people really do this. I do it, my friends do it. Not that I expect it’s the norm, or anything, but we know Shakespeare.

Not as good as Cardenio, IMO. :wink:

…although I do have a pet theory that “Love’s Labour’s Won” is actually a popular title for “Much Ado About Nothing,” based on chronology and that damned bookseller’s inventory list.

Guess he forgot about 1066.

When Star Wars came out I was 12. I memorized the entire soundtrack and would recite it to myself every night as I was falling asleep.

That’s the George Lucas remake, isn’t it? With all the unpleasant parts digitially altered?

Or maybe… he sent the email. President Bartlett totally roxxors. :slight_smile:

I had to learn the “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” soliloquy from macbeth by heart for school- other than that, I tend not to know things by heart.

Rather scary admission from a doctor, that.

See, my dad’s a family doctor, and he’s noted that a lot of med school (at least when he attended back in the early '70s) is a lot of rote memorization.