You love me not. Julius Caesar Act 4 Scene 3 by William Shakespeare

The tense exchange comes to a head as Cassius puts it all on the table. The “love” here is not romantic love but respect, honor, trust, fellowship: the kind of love brothers feel for each other—and conspirators want to be able to feel for each other. Cassius is essentially saying: “You’re not on my side.”

Brutus does not contradict him. Of course, Cassius is a hard person to feel affection or trust toward…

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Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Hamlet Act 1 Scene 4 by William Shakespeare

One of the best-known lines in the play. Popularly used as an expression meaning, “Something’s very wrong around here.” If you’re cast as Marcellus, this is going to be the highlight of your performance, every night.

We’ve learned throughout this first act that the Danish court has become decadent and corrupt since the death of Hamlet’s father, that there is something extremely fishy about Claudius’s rise to power, and that the misrule has even upset the natural order of things (ghosts are walking around!). Marcellus' line crystallizes the sense of unease that even the ordinary Danish people feel, and for which King Hamlet’s ghost has given a dramatic explanation.

The country is rotten and “the time is out of joint,” as Hamlet says in the next scene. It’s Hamlet duty to “set it right”—but since he has a habit of putting things off, Denmark might want to call in Arnold instead:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqJTeyVnZu0

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If you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for
yours; for I will never love that which my friend hates.
Much Ado Act 5 Scene 2 by William Shakespeare

i.e., If you hate your heart for loving me, I’ll hate it too—I’ll never love something my friend hates.

Another witty Beatrice comeback, and a callback to the real dislike the two of them felt for each other earlier. (Although that dislike always had romantic tension simmering underneath—a classic romantic comedy situation echoed in countless other works of fiction, including Pride and Prejudice and its many imitators.) Now that they’ve expressed their love, they can joke about their previous squabbles.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lf5AVrZK4Ro

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I did say so,
When first I raised the tempest.
The Tempest Act 5 Scene 1 by William Shakespeare

“The tempest”…hey wait, isn’t that the title of the…?

Prospero’s mentioning the storm again now, in the final scene, helps bring the play full circle. The “work” of the actors will soon “cease” as well (see Ariel’s line above).

Michael Winters as Prospero

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Give not this rotten orange to your friend; Much Ado Act 4 Scene 1 by William Shakespeare

A particularly nasty putdown. Rejecting Hero because he believes she’s no longer a virgin, Claudio compares her to a piece of spoiled fruit.

The mention of oranges also reminds us of the Italian (specifically Sicilian) setting of the play. Sicily is famed for its blood orange, the Arancia Rossa di Sicilia:

Italy’s got so many oranges lying around that the Northern Italian city of Ivrea stages an annual food fight with them—the “Battle of the Oranges.”

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O, how I love thee! how I dote on thee! A Midsummer Night's Dream Act 4 Scene 1 by William Shakespeare

This may be the moment in which the love-madness of A Midsummer Night’s Dream reaches its peak absurdity. Titania is passionately in love with someone who literally has the head of an ass. (Although to be fair, Bottom’s a mensch, and looks aren’t everything…)

Titania cuddling with ass-headed Bottom has been a popular subject for artists over the years.

Henry Fuseli, 1790

Fuseli again, 1790

Edwin Henry Landseer, 1848

1846 caricature of Charles Dickens as Titania!

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When my love swears that she is made of truth, Sonnet 138 by William Shakespeare

When my lover swears that she’s always completely honest.

Is anyone ever completely honest? As reported by LiveScience:

[A 2006] study, published in the Journal of Basic and Applied Psychology, found that 60 percent of people had lied at least once during [a] 10-minute conversation, saying an average of 2.92 inaccurate things.

A 2010 British study found (or CLAIMED to find) that men lie more than women on average.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyE4CLM0QIA&feature=kp

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There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
Julius Caesar Act 4 Scene 3 by William Shakespeare

A famous metaphor about seizing the historical moment and not letting opportunities pass you by. Ride the “tide” of opportunity when it’s high, or “at the flood,” and you’ll be carried on to success; let it pass, and you’ll be stuck mucking around in the “shallows” of depressed unfulfillment.

Very inspirational; of course, whether the opportunities Brutus seizes here and throughout the play are worth acting on is left to the reader to judge.

Specifically, Brutus is saying here that the time is now ripe for his and Cassius’s army to confront Antony and Octavius’s forces. If they wait, they might lose soldiers and face defeat.

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You must lay lime to tangle her desires
      By wailful sonnets, whose composed rhymes
      Should be full-fraught with serviceable vows.
Two Gentlemen of Verona Act 3 Scene 2 by William Shakespeare

A bit of self-mockery on Shakespeare’s part? Shakespeare, of course, wrote a lot of sonnets—154 of them, to be exact. Many of them are clearly composed with the intent to woo, although they vary widely and some dissect the end of a relationship or meditate on desire, age, time, and death. Critical debate continues as to the intended recipients of Shakespeare’s sonnets, with most agreeing that different batches address a so-called Fair Youth, Rival Poet, and Dark Lady.

If Shakespeare is poking fun at himself here, he’s also poking fun at the sonnet form, and the way it’s used in the hands of bad poets—then as now. The sonnets should be “wailful” (melodramatic, heartsick), Proteus advises, and stuffed to the gills with promises. Serviceable here means “ready to do service,” not “good enough to do the trick.”

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This love feel I, that feel no love in this. Romeo and Juliet Act 1 Scene 1 by William Shakespeare

I feel this kind of love [with all the characteristics just mentioned: “heavy lightness,” etc.], even though nobody loves me back.

Here and throughout the first act, Romeo talks a lot about love before he’s truly in it—i.e. before he’s met Juliet. This is one of the jokes of the play, and ultimately one of its tragic elements: Romeo and Juliet is in part the story of Romeo’s education in what love is really like.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-voFydnXGA

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