Romeo and Juliet

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The Play’s the Thing: Amidst the feuding Montagues and Capulets in Verona, Romeo (a Montague) and Juliet (a Capulet) meet at a party and fall in love. They chat for a bit at night and then get engaged and secretly married the next day. Following the marriage, Romeo kills Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt, after Tybalt kills Romeo’s friend, Mercutio, which leads to the Prince banishing Romeo from Verona, who only gets to spend one night with Juliet. Just after Romeo leaves, Juliet’s parents inform her she’s going to marry Paris in three days which leads to her hatching a plot with Friar Laurence to fake her death to get out of the marriage and allow her to run off with Romeo. Romeo doesn’t get the memo about the fake death, buys poison, and drinks it over Juliet’s “corpse”. Juliet wakes up and stabs herself when she sees Romeo is dead. The Montagues and Capulets end their feud as a result of losing both their children.

Heroes and Villains: While the main focus is on Romeo and Juliet, my favourite character in this play has always been Mercutio, who’s a bit lewd but is a great friend to Romeo right up until he dies.

Pick-up Lines with Style: “the all-seeing sun/ Ne’er saw her match since first the world begun.” (I.ii)


  • “burn daylight” (I.iv)
  • “that which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet” (II.ii)
  • “parting is such sweet sorrow” (II.ii)
  • “A plague o’ both your houses” (III.i)

Speech to Know: When it comes to Romeo and Juliet, the choice of speech is pretty obvious. Romeo’s first speech from the balcony scene.

“But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun! –
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou her maid art far more fair than she:
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green,
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off. –
It is my lady; O, it is my love!
O, that she knew she were! –
She speaks, yet she says nothing: what of that?
Her eye discourses, I will answer it. –
I am too bold, ’tis not to me she speaks:
Two of the fairest stars in all heaven,
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
What if her eyes were there, they in her head?
The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars,
As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing, and think it were not night. –
See how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O, that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!”  (II.ii)

View from the Pit: I’m an unabashed lover of Romeo and Juliet. Their relationship is brief and (I’ll admit freely) highly unrealistic, but the dialogue is so beautiful and romantic and the plot puts all emotions at such a fevered pitch that it’s just irresistibly enjoyable. The conflict between the Montagues and Capulets serves as a brilliant counterpoint to Romeo and Juliet’s relationship and the tragedy is heightened by its inevitability as the entire plot is outlined in the prologue. The play is so familiar to me (from multiple readings and viewings – theatre and film) that the play is one of the few where I anticipate and relish in the dialogue. Whether I enjoy it because the plot and dialogue is so embedded in the social consciousness or just for its own merits, the results are the same: I ❤ me some Romeo and Juliet.

King Lear

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The Play’s the Thing: King Lear is getting old and allocating his kingdom to his three daughters (Goneril, Regan,  and Cordelia) based on how much they say they love him with Cordelia ending up cut off because she won’t lie like her older sisters who really pour it on thick. Goneril and Regan almost immediately turn on Lear and treat him horribly causing him to go mad. Goneril and Regan also backbite with each other, both trying to get rid of their current husbands for Edmund (the manipulative bastard son of Gloster; see subplot) and eventually with one sister poisoning the other and then killing herself. Cordelia returns to England, helps her father recover a bit but is murdered by an assassin sent by Goneril and Edmund. Cordelia’s death drives Lear off the deep end and he dies of shock.

Subplot Edmund is the bastard son of Gloster who masterminds a plot to knock Edgar (Gloster’s legitimate son) out of the position of heir by causing Gloster to believe Edgar is going to kill him. Edgar goes into hiding and pretends to be a crazy man and hangs out with Lear’s entourage during Lear’s crazy phase. Gloster is blinded by Regan’s husband. He eventually joins up with Edgar (not knowing who he is) and Edgar prevents him from committing suicide. Gloster eventually joins up with Lear and he and Edgar reconcile, while Edmund is injured in battle (did I mention there’s a war going on in Act V?) and dies just before Lear.

Heroes and Villains: Cordelia really is the only likable and sane human being in this play so she wins the prize this time around.

Insults with Style:

  • “A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking whoreson, glass-gazing, superserviceable, finical wouldst be bawd, in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch: one whom I will beat into clamorous whining, if thou denyest the least syllable of addition.” (II.ii)
  • “thou whoreson zed! Thou unnecessary letter” (II.ii)


  • “although the last, not least” (I.i)
  • “take her or leave her” (I.i)
  • “more sinned against, than sinning” (III.ii)
  • “that way madness lies” (III.iv)

Speech to Know: There’s no speeches in King Lear that I found super impressive, but there’s a brief moment of dialogue when Lear appears on stage in Act V carrying Cordelia’s dead body that brilliantly evokes the intensity of his grief.

“Howl, howl, howl, howl! – O, you are men of stones:
Had I your tongues and eyes, I’d use them so
That heaven’s vault should crack. – She’s gone for ever!” (V.iii)

View from the PitKing Lear is fascinating study of madness and family relations. Lear himself goes really far round the bend and big chunks of his dialogue are truly batty. The parallel plots of Goneril and Regan betraying their father for more extensive power while Edmund does the same to Gloster provides for some truly heinous actions from some repulsive human beings. Admittedly, I have issues keeping Edmund and Edgar straight (dear Shakespeare, couldn’t you make their names a little more distinctive?) but Edgar is intriguing as one of the more heroic characters as he doesn’t just reveal himself to his father or Lear right away but maintains his disguise of madmen for much of the play after his banishment. And of course Cordelia is just the lovely human being who loves her father the right amount, is punished for not lying and saying she loves him more, still gets to marry a French royal, but ends up dead after doing her daughterly duty. Really, King Lear is all about the daughters and Cordelia is the best of them in the intriguing but horrifying mess that her sisters create.

Pericles, Prince of Tyre

Prior to the post proper (I do love me some alliteration), an apology fair reader. There has been far too long a gap in posts (slightly over two months!) and I have little excuse. But I do promise a true blitz in posts over the weeks that are left in this year. Now with that over…

The Play’s the Thing: Pericles has come to pursue the dangerous business of courting Antiochus’ daughter which requires solving a riddle (otherwise he’s executed), but while Pericles figures out the riddle he doesn’t give his response as it will reveal that Antiochus is having an incestuous affair with said daughter and instead goes into hiding. Pericles is shipwrecked in his flight and ends up meeting Thaisa whom he marries. Pericles then receives word he needs to return to Tyre and sails with his pregnant wife but there is a storm, Thaisa “dies” while giving birth to Marina, their daughter, whom Pericles leaves with Cleon as he continues on to Tyre, and Thaisa is rescued from her coffin and joins a convent.  Cleon’s wife is jealous of Marina’s beauty which outshines her daughter’s and sells her to a brothel (telling Pericles she’s dead) where Marina repeatedly manages to avoid doing the deed. Pericles, Thaisa, and Marina eventually reunite despite some truly ridiculous odds.

Heroes and Villains: There’s no real standout characters in this play due to its episodic nature, but I guess the prize goes to Marina for the strangest means of keeping her virginity.

Speech to Know: Pericles gives a highly romantic speech at the beginning of the play when he courts Antiochus’ daughter. Prior to finding out about the incest, of course.

“See where she comes, apparell’d like the spring,
Graces her subjects, and her thoughts the king
Of every virtue gives renown to men!
Her face the book of praises, where is read
Nothing but curious pleasures, as from thence
Sorrow were raz’d, and testy wrath
Could never be her mild companion,
Ye gods, that made me man, and sway in love,
That have inflam’d desire in my breast
To taste the fruit of yon celestial tree,
Or dies in the adventure, be my helps,
As I am son and servant to your will,
To compass such a boundless happiness!” (I.i)

View from the PitPericles, Prince of Tyre is highly episodic and a little reminiscent of Henry V (although not nearly as cool). Reading the play for the first time I was in honest suspense as to whether it would have a tragic or comic ending and have to admit that after reading many, many, many tragic endings, it was nice to have everything turn out right in the end. But due to the episodic nature of the play, the action feels extremely over the top. Each plot development feels even more insane than the last until we get to Marina in the brothel who avoids losing her virtue by shaming her potential clients for wanting to take away her virtue. Not super realistic that (I would guess). The play definitely has a heavy dose of Greek drama around it with each act opening with the equivalent of a chorus delineating the action but it never reaches the empathetic emotional heights that Shakespeare is capable of.

Titus Andronicus

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The Play’s the Thing: Titus Andronicus is a war hero coming back to Rome (with captives in tow) who is initially renowned by the about to be emperor Saturninus but the tide turns when Bassianus takes Titus’ daughter, Lavinia, against her will and marries her, leaving Saturninus to marry Tamora, former queen of the Goths, who has a serious grudge against Titus for killing her firstborn son. Tamora’s two sons make a plot her lover Aaron, a Moor, to set up the murder of Bassianus so they can rape Lavinia (and afterwards cut out her tongue and cut off her hands) while everyone’s out hunting, and then the brothers pin the murder on two of Titus’ sons. Titus’ sons are executed even though Titus cuts off one of his own hands to try and save them, another of his sons is banished and heads off to ally himself with the Goths, and Titus learns what’s happened to his daughter and plots revenge. Lavinia manages to communicate who her rapists were to her father and uncle, who continue to further their revenge plot while we also learn that Tamora gave birth to a black baby which could be seriously bad news if her husband finds out. Titus kills Lavinia’s rapists, feeds their heads to their mother, reveals her infidelity to Saturninus, kills Lavinia and Tamora, and is killed by Saturninus who in turn is killed by Titus’ son, Lucius, who is named the new emperor who will save Rome from the Goths and all this tragedy.

Heroes and Villains: The prize this time around goes to Marcus Andronicus, Titus’ brother, who is just such a sympathetic character and treats everyone in his family with such respect and dignity.

Speech to Know: Titus’ speech in Act III when his sons are taken away to be executed is so beautiful and sad.

“Why ’tis no matter, man: if they did hear
They would not mark me; or if they did mark
They would not pity me; yet plead I must,
And bootless unto them.
Therefore I tell my sorrows to the stones;
Why, though they cannot answer my distress,
Yet in some sort they are better than the tribunes,
For that they will not intercept my tale:
When I do weep they humbly at my feet
Receive my tears, and seem to weep with me;
And were they but attired in grave weeds
Rome could afford no tribune like to these.
A stone is soft as wax, tribunes more hard than stones;
A stone is silent, and offendeth not, –
And tribunese with their tongues doom men to death.” (III.i)

View from the Pit: I have been avoiding Titus Andronicus for years, having been familiar with the basic plot elements, I didn’t feel compelled to spend time immersed in such a dark work. And there’s no denying the plot is bleak with the utter hell Lavinia is put through and the slow descent of Titus Andronicus and all of the obligatory deaths that a tragedy requires. But the play is also riveting in its tragedy like a train wreck in slow motion. The beautiful dialogue also goes a long way to making this play worth encountering despite the dark subject matter. While the characters mostly exist for things to happen to, Titus and his brother, Marcus are truly dynamic men whom it is sad to watch suffer as their family is slowly picked off. Also of note is Aaron the Moor who is a pure villain. While he’s not as nuanced as that delightful creation, Iago, he is an interesting character to study as he takes such glee in the vile acts perpetrated on the Andronici that leaves the reader so horrified.


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The Play’s the Thing: In ancient Britain, Imogen, daughter of Cymbeline, the king, is in trouble because she married Posthumus Leonatus rather than her idiot step-brother, Cloten, like her evil step-mother (who is trying to kill Imogen) wanted so Posthumus is banished to Italy where he makes a bet with an Italian named Iachimo that Iachimo won’t be able to seduce Imogen in his absence. Iachimo smuggles himself into Imogen’s bedchamber, steals her bracelet while she’s sleeping, and gets enough details to convince Posthumus that he slept with his wife, which drives Posthumus ’round the bend a bit. Imogen gets a letter from Posthumus and head’s off to Wales (much to the consternation of everyone at home) only to discover it was a plot to have her servant murder her but the servant refuses and tells her to disguise herself as a man until they can straighten everything out, leaving her in Wales to meet her (unkown to her) long lost brothers and Cloten heading off with an evil plan to rape Imogen. Cloten gets his head chopped off by one of the (still unknown) brothers, Imogen looks a little dead for a while (thanks to evil step-mother poison) and then joins up with one of the Roman military leaders as they head off to attack Britain while the brothers head off to defend Britain with their kidnapper in tow. Posthumus hearing false news of Imogen’s death regrets his assassination of her, the Brits and Romans fight and eventually make up, the evil step-mother dies, Cymbeline forgives Imogen, she and Posthumus are reunited, and the long lost brothers are restored to their roles as princes and everyone lives happily ever after (thanks to a literal deus ex machina).

Heroes and Villains: Imogen is definitely my favourite, partially because I like her name, and partially because she’s just a really great heroine.

Wordsmith: “bo-peeping” (

Speech to Know: Posthumus gives a really great penitent speech while in prison when he still thinks Imogen is dead.

“Most welcome, bondage! for thou art a way,
I think, to liberty: yet am I better
Than one that’s sick o’ the gout; since he had rather
Groan so in perpetuity than be cur’d
By the sure physician death, who is the key
To unbar these locks. My conscience, thou art fetter’d
More than my shanks and wrists: you good gods, give me
The penitent instrument to pick that bolt,
Then free for ever! Is’t enough I am sorry?
So children temporal fathers do appease;
Gods are more full of mercy. Must I repent?
I cannot do it better than in gyves,
Desir’d more than constrain’d: to satisfy,
If of my freedom ’tis the main part, take
No stricter render of me than my all.
I know you are more clement than vile men,
Who of their broken debtors take a third,
A sixth, a tenth, letting them thrive again
On their abatement: that’s not my desire:
For Imogen’s dear life take mine; and though
‘Tis not so dear, yet ’tis a life; you coin’d it:
‘Tween man and man they weight not every stamp;
Though light, take pieces for the figure’s sake:
You rather mine, being yours: and so, great powers,
If you will take this audit, take this life,
And cancel these cold bonds.” (V.iv)

View from the Pit: I had absolutely no familiarity with Cymbeline when I began reading it and was thrilled to discover in the midst of all the tragic endings of the ancient histories I’d read thus far, a play with a happy ending. The play itself is an interesting mix of fairy tale with the evil step-mother and step-brother, Greek drama with an actual appearance from Jupiter himself (a literal deus ex machina), and some Shakespearean standard elements with a cross-dressing woman, hidden princes, drugs that fake death, and a king who doesn’t realize what he had until he’s lost it. The play also has intriguing dash of British nationalism thrown into act III, which is particularly fascinating as the play ends with Britain bowing to the will of the Roman empire and Caesar (Augustus in this case). Not the most polished of the plays but a nice change in the midst of all the tragedies.

Antony and Cleopatra

A Blogger’s Note: Many apologies, fair reader, for the recent gap in posting after promising to be all caught up. Epic fail on my part. But having returned from vacation and seeing my brother off into the land of wedded bliss, I am back and ready to tackle all things Bard. However, because these posts are increasingly taking longer to write, I’m now shortening my summaries of play contents. One sentence per act. Not so great as serving as a cheat sheet anymore but it means I can get through a post in significantly less time.

The Play’s the Thing: Antony and Cleopatra are madly in love (even though she’s a crazy cow) but there’s issues brewing in Rome that will pull Antony away. Antony makes up with Caesar and even marries Octavia, Caesar’s sister, to make things better between them as they head off to battle Pompey but then end up signing a treaty. Antony ditches Octavia and goes back to Cleopatra to fight in a battle which he loses because Cleopatra’s an idiot and sails away. Antony and Caesar go to battle which ultimately ends up going in Caesar’s favour and which makes Antony pissed at Cleopatra, so she fakes her death to make him like her again and then he stabs himself. Antony lives long enough to kiss Cleopatra goodbye and then she kills herself by letting asps bite her.

Heroes and Villains: Ugh, a lot of really annoying characters floating around in this play but I suppose if I must choose, I like Enobarbus who manages to maintain his sanity for most of the play.

Speech to Know: Antony gives the best speech when he decides to really leave Cleopatra in act IV for her perceived disloyalty.

“O sun, thy uprise shall I see no more:
Fortune and Antony part here; even here
Do we shake hands. – All come to this! – The hearts
That spaniel’d me at heels, to whom I gave
Their wishes, do discandy, melt their sweets
On blossoming Caesar; and this pine is bark’d
That overtopp’d them all. Betray’d I am:
O this false soul of Egypt! this grave charm,
Whose eye beck’d forth my wars and call’d them home;
Whose bosom was my corwnet, my chief end, –
Like a right gipsy, hath, at fast and loose,
Beguil’d me to the very heart of loss.” (IV.xii)

View from the Pit: Antony and Cleopatra is not going down as one of my favourite plays. I studied it in high school and didn’t dislike it, but this time around I found many of the characters highly irritating and a great number of them suffer from Too Stupid to Live syndrome. Cleopatra is characterized as a manipulative, ditzy, and emotionally isolated cow and Antony is the guy who’s terrified of losing his power but can’t leave the woman who is forever causing him to do just that. I just can’t weep for two characters who end up killing themselves because they’re idiots. Also, the political element is underdeveloped and unless you’re pretty familiar with the various alliances and shifts in power that is happening in the background, it can be a bit difficult to follow.

Julius Caesar

The Play’s the Thing: The play opens with the rabble exulting and celebrating the arrival of Caesar. Two Romans (whose names don’t really matter because they won’t be hanging around long), scold them, there’s some banter exchanged about cobbling, and the Romans send the rabble home and decide to go through the city to clean it up. Caesar arrives on the scene with his entourage and meets a soothsayer who tells him to beware the ides of March. Caesar ignores him and moves on but Brutus and Cassius stay behind. They have a conversation in which Cassius bemoans the fact that Caesar, who is an entirely ordinary man has been elevated to the status of a god. He then hints that he and Brutus should do something about this. This conversation is punctuated by three cheers from a distance. Caesar and his entourage return, and he spends some time talking with Antony and indicating he’s suspicious of Cassius. Here Caesar says one of my favourite lines of the play in describing Cassius, “He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.” Caesar: not the intellectual type. Brutus then has Casca give a play-by play of what just went on with Caesar. Marc Antony offered him a crown three times and each time Caesar passed although each time he looked more and more reluctant. Then Caesar passed out because the commoners have really bad breath (I kid not). Brutus and Cassius then set up a meeting for the next day or so to discuss the whole Caesar situation further. Later, on the streets of Rome, there’s a crazy thunderstorm going on and some extra freaky stuff like lions wandering around downtown and men who are fire but aren’t burned. In the midst of this, Cassius meets up with Casca and Cinna who are all conspirators in the plot to assassinate Caesar. They plan to meet up at Brutus’ as they make a final push to have him join them.

Brutus is wandering around his orchard and having an internal debate with himself out loud. He muses that while Caesar hasn’t accepted a crown yet, the threat is too great of what he could do to Roman society if he were to accept the crown. Brutus also realizes that the coming day is the ides of March. Cassius and his crew arrive at Brutus’ house and they make the final plans to assassinate Caesar. There’s also a brief discussion about killing Antony (a plan Cassius is in favour of) but Brutus vetoes this idea because he thinks Antony is no real threat. There’s also some fear that Caesar won’t come to the Capitol as he’s been more superstitious of late, but one of the conspirators says he can flatter Caesar into coming. Everyone then leaves. Brutus then has a conversation with his wife, Portia, who can tell something is bothering her husband and is upset he won’t share it with her. She’s even stabbed herself in the thigh to prove to him that if she can handle that, she can handle his secrets. He promises to tell her in a little bit. At Caesar’s palace (not the one in Vegas), he’s a little apprehensive and his wife, Calphurnia, is thoroughly freaked out by a dream she’s had and wants him to stay home for the day. He agrees, but then one of the conspirators arrive and puts a positive twist on the interpretation of Calphurnia’s dream, hints at the potential mockery that will come Caesar’s way if it’s perceived he’s too scared to go to the Capitol, and then says the senate plans to give him a crown today. That gets Caesar all primed to head to the Capitol and the entire crew of conspirators arrive to escort Caesar to the Capitol. Meanwhile, in another part of Rome, Artemidorus goes over a note to Caesar that warns him of the plot against his life. Portia has a bit of a meltdown waiting for news and wishes her husband the best of luck.

In the street, Caesar meets the soothsayer and points out that it’s now the ides of March. The soothsayer says the day isn’t over yet. Artemidorus shows up with his note for Caesar but the conspirators keep Caesar from reading it. The senate starts going into session and there’s a bit about asking Caesar to pardon the brother of one of the conspirators and everyone asking him and then the assassins stab Caesar to death. Brutus has everyone bathe their hands and swords in Caesar’s blood and sends them throughout town to explain to the commoners that they’ve done this to preserve everyone’s freedom. Antony then shows up, is appalled at the sight of Caesar’s body, and offers himself up if they plan to kill him too. Brutus reassures him and Antony makes a show of shaking hands with all of the assassins. Brutus gives Antony permission to speak at Caesar’s funeral (despite Cassius saying this is a bad idea) and the assassins head off to go through town. Antony then apologizes to Caesar’s corpse for his show of alliance with his killers and promises to avenge his death. He then sends a messenger to try and prevent Octavius, Caesar’s heir and who is anticipated to arrive soon, from coming to Rome. In the forum, Brutus gives a speech that gets the masses thinking he’s a hero for killing Caesar. Then Antony arrives afterwards and gives a speech that riles the masses up against the assassins and thinking Antony and Caesar are best men ever. The mob heads out to lynch the conspirators and kill a poet just for having the same name as one of the conspirators.

At Antony’s house, he, Octavius, and Lepidus form a triumvirate and Antony expresses his doubts about the the usefulness of Lepidus. Octavius tells him to stifle, this is how Octavius wants it and that’s how it’ll be. On the battlefield, Cassius and Brutus have a bit of a spat over something that turns out to be nothing. After making up, Brutus tells Cassius that Portia is dead. She went crazy, swallowed fire, and died as a result. Cassius and Brutus then discuss military strategy and Brutus ignores Cassius once again (seriously, just once Brutus should listen to Cassius) and decides the army will march to Philippi rather than risk losing momentum. Brutus then sends everyone to sleep, has some soldiers to come sleep in his tent, and has his servant sing a song. Everyone falls asleep and then Brutus sees Caesar’s ghost who says he’ll see him again at Philippi. Brutus freaks out a bit but preps to go to Philippi.

Antony and Octavius prep to go against Brutus and Cassius and have a spat over who will take which side of the field with Octavius winning. They then have a brief parley with Brutus and Cassius with everyone arguing and heading off to battle. Brutus and Cassius say their farewells to each other in case they die during the battle. During the battle, Cassius sends one of his men to get the skinny on what’s going on and has another of his men stand on the hill to see what’s going on. Some visual misinterpretation happens and Cassius kills himself (by having his servant hold the sword) because he thinks all is lost. However, the guy he sent comes back with good news about the battle and kills himself because Cassius is dead. Brutus then arrives and has a sad. He heads off to battle some more but his side has begun to lose. He tries to get three different guys to hold his sword so he can run himself through with it, but all of them refuse. Finally, the fourth guy Brutus asks agrees. Antony and Octavius then arrive and are a little sad that Brutus is dead because he was the most honourable of all the conspirators. They promise to give Brutus a good burial and take Brutus’ body to Octavius’ tent.

Heroes and Villains: Undoubtedly my favourite character is Brutus, the honourable man who has been drawn into killing his friend and leader for the perceived good it will do for his country. Now if only he’d listen to Cassius at least once, things would have been so much better for him.


  • you blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things (I.i)
  • beware the ides of March (I.ii)
  • “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,/ But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” (I.ii)
  • it was Greek to me (I.ii)
  • “Cowards die many times before their deaths;/The valiant never taste of death but once.” (II.ii)
  • “Et tu, Brute?” (III.i)
  • “Cry Havoc and let slip the dogs of war” (III.i)

Speech to KnowJulius Caesar has one of the more identifiable speeches in it, which comes from Marc Antony after Caesar’s death.

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault;
And grievously hat Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest, –
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men, –
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you, then, to mourn for him?
O judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason! – Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.” (III.ii)

View from the PitJulius Caesar despite its title is really all about Brutus, and Brutus is a fascinating character. He is essentially a good man who is drawn into the assassination because he truly believes it is the best thing he can do for his fellow citizens to keep them from falling under the rule of a king. But in the process of this action Brutus loses everything, his wife, the respect of the Romans, and ultimately his life. While I have always found the Roman habit of running themselves through with swords idiotic, it is a fitting end for Brutus, who would not serve well as a prisoner. What is fascinating to watch in this play is the growth of Marc Antony from a slightly doltish jock to a manipulative political entity. Of course, his political skills leave something to be desired as will come back to bite him in the next play he appears in.


The Play’s the Thing: Some rioting citizens of Rome meet up on a street corner to provide some back story. Essentially the citizens are hungry and are convinced the ruling class are hording grain for themselves and not sharing like they should. They particularly blame Caius Marcius and are convinced if they kill him then they can’t grain at their own price. There’s a bit of a debate over whether Caius Marcius is really such a bad guy; he’s a war hero who’s fought for his country. However, someone else points out that everything he’s done has been to please  his mother. Menenius Agrippa then shows up to talk down the plebs. Once he’s calmed them down, Caius Marcius shows up and starts complaining about how quickly the mob change their minds. Menenius asks about what went down on the other side of town and we find out the mob was granted the request of nominating five tribunes to represent them to the senate. Two of the tribunes are Junius Brutus and Sicinius Velutus. Right after this news has been passed on a messenger shows up tell Marcius that the Volsces are “in arms.” Marcius heads off with Cominius to go fight the Volsces. Sicinius and Brutus stay behind to trash talk Marcius and talk about how proud and conniving he is. In Corioli, Tullus Aufidius talks with the senators about his battle plans and we learn that Aufidius and Marcius have faced off multiple times. Back in Rome, Marcius’ mother, Volumnia, and his wife, Virgilia, are hanging out when their friend, Valeria arrives. Virgilia is worried sick about her husband and doesn’t want to leave home while he’s gone. Volumnia, on the other hand, thinks that whether her son lives or dies, his honour will be greater for the battle. Valeria just wants the girls to come out with her. Eventually she and Volumnia go and Virgilia remains at home. Finally we get many scenes of the battle at Corioli. A lot of things go down but suffice it to say that Marcius wins against all odds and in addition to his battle prizes, is given the honorary name of Coriolanus. Elsewhere, Aufidius vows to eventually defeat his long-time enemy

Menenius is chatting with Sicinius and Brutus about the rumours that there will be news soon. S&B (they are never apart so let’s just call them that from now on) are once again bitching about Coriolanus’ flaws, especially his pride. Menenius defends Coriolanus to them until the three Vs walk by with the news Coriolanus is about to arrive in Rome. Mommy V and Menenius trade some talk about Coriolanus’ battle scars which will go a long way towards winning the hearts of the plebs. Coriolanus then shows up, spends more time talking to Mommy V then Wifey V (there’s a fun home dynamic) and heads off to the Capitol. S&B trash talk him some more and note that they’ll be able to use their influence with the commoners to turn them against him and hold on to their power and prevent him from being made consul. There’s then some prep for Coriolanus standing for consul, Coriolanus then speaks before the Senate who decide to make him a consul. The only catch is he must also get the support of the plebs. This requires him to stand on a street corner and ask people for their support. Coriolanus has a lot of disdain for the plebs and doesn’t want to but Menenius talks him into it. Coriolanus manages to get the support of the people, although he refuses to show off his battle scars (apparently a thing other people have done before). However, after Coriolanus has gone in to the senate, S&B show up and get the citizens to turn on him.

Coriolanus is chatting with his pal, Cominius about the news that Aufidius and the Volsces are ramping up for battle again. They then run into S&B who tell Coriolanus not to go into the marketplace as the citizens are seriously pissed. Coriolanus gets uppity and is all, “Well, screw them. I hate the unwashed masses way more than they hate me.” There’s a lot of political maneuvering with S&B working super hard to make sure Coriolanus gets nowhere near power. S&B maneuver to have Coriolanus executed. Menenius tries to talk them down and is sent to fetch Coriolanus, who is getting a bit of a scolding from Mommy V for not working with others better. Coriolanus gets talked into trying and appeasing the plebs by Mommy V, Menenius, and Cominius. But when he gets to the marketplace, S&B wind him up and Coriolanus ends up insulting the mob. He’s then banished from Rome.

Coriolanus says goodbye to his two friends and the Mommy and Wifey Vs and leaves Rome. Mommy V then verbally attacks S&B and gets seriously worked up. On a random highway a Roman and a Volsce meet up and trade gossip. The Volsce learns Coriolanus is banished and the Roman learns the Volscans are about to attack again. At Aufidius’s house, Coriolanus is the world’s haughtiest party crasher. He comes in and tell everyone that due to his mistreatment by the Romans he’s going to join the Volscans in their attack and lead their army. Back in Rome, S&B are gloating and enjoying being the big men on campus and telling each other how lovely everything is now that Coriolanus is gone. Of course, they then get rumours that the Volscans are about to attack which they try to smother only to have believable news saying the same thing with the added note that Coriolanus is leading the army. Menenius and Cominius tell S&B that they hope the pair are happy after everything they’ve done. In the Volscan camp, Aufidius talks with his Lieutenant about Coriolanus’ insane charisma which draws soldiers to him like nobodies business. Aufidius hints that when they’ve taken Rome, he will do everything in his power to take out Coriolanus.

In Rome, S&B talk Menenius into trying to convince Coriolanus not to to attack Rome. Menenius fails. Coriolanus is in the midst of telling Aufidius that nothing will get him to stop the attack on Rome when the Mommy and Wifey Vs with Coriolanus Jr. and the third V in tow. Mommy, Wifey, and Jr all plead with Coriolanus and eventually Mommy (of course) is successful. The Volscans murmur about it but Coriolanus decides not to attack Rome. In Rome, Menenius and S discuss the odds of the 3 Vs success and receive word that the plebs are beating on B. They then get notice that the 3 Vs worked their magic and Coriolanus won’t be attacking, much to the delight of the Romans. In Antium, Aufidius plots with some co-conspirators to assassinate Coriolanus to make sure he stops stealing Aufidius’ thunder. Coriolanus comes into town and is lauded by everyone as a hero until Aufidius calls him a traitor, the two men have a verbal showdown, the citizens turn against him, and Aufidius and his conspirators kill him. The lords of Antium shame Aufidius for killing such a good man and Aufidius suddenly has an attack of conscience. He serves as one of the men who carry Coriolanus’ body off stage.

Heroes and Villains: There really aren’t any characters in this play that I have strong feelings about either way, so no favourite character this time around.


  • against the grain (II.iii)
  • thwack (IV.v)
  • death by inches (V.iv)

Speech to Know: Coriolanus may be an annoying and arrogant character, but he knows how to give an impassioned and mildly insulting speech.

“You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate
As reek o’ the rotten fens, whose loves I prize
As the dead caracasses of unburied men
That do corrupt my air, – I banish you;
And here remain with your uncertainty!
Let every feeble rumour shake your hearts!
Your enemies, with nodding of their plumes,
Fan you into despair! Have the power still
To banish your defenders; till at length
Your ignorance, – which finds not till it feels, –
Making not reservation of yourselves –
Still your own foes, – deliver you, as most
Abated captives, to some nation
That won you without blows! Despising,
For you, the city, thus I turn my back:
There is a world elsewhere.” (III.iii)

View from the Pit: As a study in characters, Coriolanus is an interesting play (which is probably why my instructor chose it as one of the plays for my Shakespeare class in undergrad). The dynamic between Coriolanus and his mother is fascinating; add in the limp dish rag that is his wife, Virgilia, and there’s all kinds of psychological speculations to make about a man with such a dominant mother having such a passive wife. Coriolanus himself is an intriguing mix of the military hero who wishes to maintain his privacy and the member of the upper class who detests the general population. In this conflict between Coriolanus and the citizens of Rome, neither side is particularly appealing. Coriolanus is condescending, arrogant, and elitist while the masses are easily led and capricious. While this might lead the audience to then favour Aufidius, but his assassination of Coriolanus is cowardly and his own immediate regret over the action makes him even less likable. I’d respect him far more if he’d killed Coriolanus and had enough conviction in his actions to feel no remorse. Ultimately, a play with an interesting mix of characters but none of them are particularly likable and the plot is likely to appeal only to those who are particularly interested in (predictable) political maneuverings.

Timon of Athens

The Play’s the Thing: The play opens with a poet, a painter, a merchant, and a jeweler all trading notes about the awesomeness of Timon who is always willing to purchase any of their wares. They watch some Senators go in to Timon and then talk about how generally well thought of Timon is by everyone in Athens. However, there is a bit of blatant foreshadowing from the poet who reminds us that when Fortune turns against those she’s favoured, all the friends of the one who was favoured will watch him decline without lending him aid. Timon himself then shows up and shows off his magnanimity by lending five talents to a friend in prison for a debt and then setting up a marriage between one of his servants and a woman in town, by giving the money the woman’s father thinks is necessary. Timon looks at the wares that the poet, painter, merchant, and jeweler have all brought to him and agrees to take them all. Then Apemantus arrives. His character description in my edition is “a churlish philosopher” and he lives up to that title by being super cynical over all the people fawning over Timon and Timon’s ongoing shows of wealth. Timon receives word that the general, Alcibiades, and twenty of his men are about to arrive. Timon says to add them to the dinner party and welcomes Alcibiades himself. At the dinner party all of the guests flatter Timon and thank for the extravagant gifts he’s given them, except for Apemantus, who continues to be cynical about Timon’s flatterers. Then a guy dressed as cupid and a bunch of ladies arrive. Everyone dances and Timon sends the ladies on to dinner. Timon then sends his servant Flavius to go fetch one of his jewels. In an aside, Flavius hints that Timon really shouldn’t be doing all the gift giving that he has been because Timon is flat broke, but Flavius realizes that this is not the right time to bring it up. Timon gives some gifts to everyone but Apemantus and then everyone heads home.

Over at one of the Senator’s houses, he’s tabulating up all of the debts that he knows Timon owes (about 25 000 talents) and can’t figure out why Timon continues to give such extravagant gifts. He then sends his servant to go claim some of the money Timon owes him. At Timon’s house, Flavius is lamenting the extravagant spending Timon continues to do, mostly for the benefit of others. He then runs into servants from three different men of Athens all claiming money from Timon. Timon arrives and tries to put everyone off for a day but they refuse. He turns to Flavius in confusion who takes him aside. There’s a brief interlude with Apemantus, the servants, and a fool that’s mostly just an excuse to throw insults around and then we go back to Timon and Flavius who is shocked at how in debt he is. Flavius is all, “I tried to tell you but you wouldn’t listen.” Timon is convinced he can fix the situation by selling land and then learns that most of it has been mortgaged already. Then he decides to send servants to a few of his friends to ask them to lend him money. He’s sure that they’ll be more than willing after all of the gifts they’ve lavished on him. Oh Timon…

We then get several successive scenes of Timon’s servants going to his friends and asking for a loan only to be rejected for a range of ridiculous reasons. Back at Timon’s house, more servants from other men are trying to claim money from Timon. They meet one of Timon’s servants who tells them that Timon is unwell and won’t be coming out today. However, Timon shows up shortly afterwards to yell at the servants and tell them that he has absolutely no money give. Then he has a brainwave and tells Flavius to invite all of his friends over for a dinner party. Meanwhile, the Senate is sitting in judgement on a man accused of murder and have decided he will get the death penalty. Alcibiades is there pleading on behalf of the accused man, arguing that what he did was in the heat of the moment and that his punishment should be lessened. The Senate refuse and when Alcibiades persists, they banish him from Athens. He gets super angry about this as he’s done nothing but fight wars for these people and now they’re turning on him. He vows to come back with an army. Back at Timon’s house, all of his friends are there speculating about why he came to them asking for money and now he’s throwing a fancy dinner party. Timon arrives, gives a blessing on the dinner which basically insults everyone there, and then have the dishes on the table uncovered to reveal just bowls of warm water which he then proceeds to throw at them as he chases them out of his house.

Outside of Athens, Timon curses everyone who lives there for their general lack of sympathy when he was in trouble and then he heads into the woods to live where he’ll never have to see another human again. At Timon’s house, his servants are sad that he’s fallen out of favour. Flavius shares the money he’s saved up with all of the other servants and then they all head out to find new employment. Flavius then gives a great speech about the unfairness of Timon’s fall from grace and heads out to continue to serve him wherever he’s ended up. In the woods, Timon is digging for roots (of the edible variety) outside his cave and railing against humanity when he comes across a bunch of gold. Then Alcibiades happens to come along with two ladies of the night and an army. Timon gives them all gold so that they’ll get as far away from him as possible and he tells Alcibiades that when he attacks Athens with his army not to show mercy to anyone. After the group leaves, Apemantus arrives to see if the rumours that Timon is now acting exactly like him are true. They are and the two men insult each other for a while and then Timon chases off Apemantus by throwing rocks (I kid not). Then some thieves show up hearing that Timon has gold. Timon chats with them and they change their minds about taking gold and head back to Athens. Finally, Flavius arrives (for a cave in the middle of nowhere, there is a LOT of traffic here). Timon is so impressed by his loyalty and Flavius’ willingness to work for him without any expectation of being paid, Timon gives him a bunch of gold and tells him to go live somewhere secluded as Timon doesn’t want any human companions at all.

Back at the cave, the poet and the painter from the beginning of the play are hanging out by Timon’s cave because they’ve heard about all the gold he’s giving out. Timon is unimpressed by their flattery and chases them away. Then Flavius brings a few Senators over to Timon. They’re there to ask him to come back to Athens, where they populace has realized they were too harsh and want to put him in a position of power. Especially if he can convince Alcibiades not to attack Athens. Timon fakes them out a bit and says a few things that sound like he’s going to accept the offer but then he turns them down flat. The Senators return to Athens and pass on the bad news that Timon isn’t going to be giving them any help. Back in the woods, a soldier passes Timon’s cave and sees a tomb. He takes an imprint of the headstone to bring to his leader since he can’t read. In Athens, the Senators convince Alcibiades to be more merciful and only punish those that did harm to him and Timon and to spare the rest of the town. Alcibiades then receives the imprint, which is the epitaph Timon wrote for himself and which reflects only his later hatred of men. Alcibiades then heads into the city to lay down the law.

Heroes and Villains: The definite winner here is Flavius, who is the very definition of a faithful servant. He never condemns Timon for his excessive spending and he continues to remain loyal to Timon, even after his fall from grace. Definitely the kind of friend you want to have.


  • height of our displeasure (III.v)

Speech to Know: Unsurprisingly, this one comes from Flavius, after Timon’s fall from grace.

“O, the fierce wretchedness that glory brings us!
Who would not wish to be from wealth exempt
Since riches point to misery and contempt?
Who would be so mock’d with glory? Or to live
But in a dream of friendship?
To have his pomp, and all what state compounds,
But only painted, like his varnish’d friends?
Poor honest lord, brought low by his own heart,
Undone by goodness! strange unusual blood,
When man’s worst sin is, he does too much good!
Who then dares to be half so kind again?
For bounty, that makes gods, does still mar men.
My dearest lord, – bless’d to be most accurs’d,
Rich only to be wretched, – thy great fortunes
Are made thy chief afflictions. Alas kind lord!
He’s flung in rage from this ingrateful seat
Of monstrous friends; nor has he with him to
Supply  his life, or that which can command it.
I’ll follow and enquire him out:
I’ll ever serve his mind with my best will;
Whilst I have gold, I’ll be his steward still.” (IV.ii)

View from the Pit: Timon of Athens is really just a good old-fashioned Greek tragedy, minus any appearances from the Greek gods themselves. Timon isn’t too bad as a main character. He’s extremely likable for his open-heartedness and open-handedness with his friends (and anyone who wanders in his front door, basically) but his character swing when he falls from grace keeps him from being too likable. General resentment of the people who accepted all of his help and gifts but then refused to help him when he needed it is understandable. Expanding his hatred to all humanity is a little extreme. However, the best character to come out of this is Flavius who is such an unendingly loyal employee and friend to Timon, even when his employer is broke and gone ‘round the bend. He’s definitely the best thing about this play, which is enjoyable if you’re into depressing Greek tragedies like I am.

Troilus and Cressida

The Play’s the Thing: The play opens with a prologue letting us know the play is set during the Trojan, reminds us of the basics (Greeks went to war against Trojans for taking Helen), and notes that when the play starts, the war has been underway for a while. The proper action then starts with Troilus, one of Priam’s sons, talking with Pandarus, Cressida’s uncle. Troilus is having Pandarus woo his niece on behalf of Troilus but Pandarus hasn’t been too successful and is getting tired of being a go-between. Pandarus leaves to be replaced by Aeneas who brings word Paris was injured and convinces Troilus to come out to the battle. In the streets of Troy, Cressida is walking with her servant who gives the background of Ajax, who is half Trojan but fighting on the Greek side and has killed tons of Trojans, much to Hector’s chagrin. Pandarus then shows up and serves as commentator on the male fashion parade as the Trojan warriors return home at the end of the day, where he bends over backwards to make Troilus seem as awesome as possible. Then one of Troilus’ servants comes to summon Pandarus to meet him leaving Cressida to have a brief soliloquy in which she reveals that she loves Troilus but is making him work for it. Over in the Greek camp, Agamemnon is scolding his military leaders for failing to defeat the Trojans after 7 years of battle (sorry, Aggie, you’ve still got 3 more years to go). Nestor and Ulysses provide some advice, the gist of which is that Achilles and Patroclus, by refusing to fight, are dragging down morale. Aeneas then shows up to tell the Greeks that Hector is offering to fight one man in single combat. Ulysses and Nestor conspire to make sure Achilles doesn’t fight Hector as it’ll just boost his ego and instead decide to send Ajax to fight Hector.

In another part of the Greek camp, Ajax (not the brightest torch in the fire) is trading blows for insults from Thersites (the ancient Greek equivalent to a fool). Achilles and Patroclus then show up to join in the banter and then give the news that there will be a lottery to see who will fight Hector. Back in Troy, Priam is consulting with his sons about the latest offer from the Greeks where if they return Helen and funds/goods to repay for all the time and loss the Greeks have accrued the Greeks will head back home. Troilus would continue fighting while Hector is all for giving her back. Then Cassandra shows up and says that if they don’t give Helen back, Troy will rue the day. Of course, no one believes her (poor Cassandra) and Hector switches sides and decides to continue with the war after some convincing by Troilus. In the Greek camp, Thersites is back to insulting Achilles and Patroclus when Agamemnon, Ulysses, Ajax, and a couple others show up. Achilles hides in his tent when he sees them coming and refuses to come out and using Ulysses as a go-between refuses to fight the next day. Ulysses uses this to stir Ajax up to fighting Hector and the big lug goes along with it.

In Troy, Pandarus meets with Paris and Helen, mostly to tell Paris to cover for Troilus at dinner in case dad asks where he is. However, Helen also cajoles Pandarus into singing her a song, after Paris agrees to the cover story. Later, in Pandarus’ orchard, he brings Troilus and Cressida together where he woos her, she eventually admits she loves him, and they make a vow of fidelity. Then they head off to Pandarus’ house for some hanky-panky. In the Greek camp, Calchas, Cressida’s father, negotiates with Agamemnon for him to return the Trojan Antenor in exchange for Cressida. Agamemnon agrees and sends him back to Troy with Diomedes who will courier Cressida back. Achilles and Patroclus are hanging out by their tent and Ulysses decides to prick Achilles’ ego by sending a bunch of the military leaders past him and have them mostly ignore him. Achilles, of course, freaks out, Ulysses then flatters him (all part of a bigger plan to have him join the battle) and lets him know that he knows the reason Achilles isn’t fighting is because Achilles is in love with one of Priam’s daughters. Achilles decides to send word to Ajax to have him invite the Trojans over to Achilles’ tent for dinner after the battle.

In Troy, Paris meets Aeneas and Diomedes who gives news of the exchange of Antenor for Cressida and Aeneas notes that Troilus is not going to be happy about the deal. In the courtyard of Pandarus’ house, Troilus and Cressida are having some morning after sweet talk when Pandarus shows up and drops a lot of innuendo to make Cressida blush. Aeneas then arrives to bring the news of the impending exchange. Troilus and Cressida make vows to be faithful, Troilus giving Cressida his sleeve and she gives him a glove as tokens of their vow. Troilus then makes Diomedes vow to treat Cressida well and Diomedes insinuates that he thinks she’s a definite hottie. Cressida then heads off to the Greek camp. She arrives just as the Greeks and Trojans are prepping for the fight between Ajax and Hector. Most of the Greek commanders make an excuse to kiss Cressida and then she’s ushered off to Calchas’ tent. Ajax and Hector fight for a bit but then Hector calls it off because he doesn’t want to kill his cousin. He then heads over to meet all the Greek commanders. Meanwhile, Troilus goes with Ulysses to check up on Cressida.

Hector goes to meet Achilles. The two men size each other up, trash talk a bit, and then head off to dinner. In another part of the Greek camp, Troilus and Ulysses watch Cressida who has apparently fallen for Diomedes. She gives him Troilus’ sleeve, then tries to take it back as she values it too much, but Diomedes refuses to give it back. Troilus is disgusted at her faithlessness and vows to track down Diomedes in battle the next day. Back in Troy, Cassandra is trying desperately to convince Hector not to go into battle as it will only lead to bad things. Of course, he doesn’t listen to her (poor Cassandra). We then have several battle scenes where Troilus and Diomedes fight but neither really wins, Patroclus is killed, and Achilles kills Hector. Troilus delivers the news of Hector’s death to the Trojans and also tells Pandarus of niece’s unfaithfulness. And then the play ends.

Heroes and Villains: There’s no real stand out characters in this one. Cressida is initially a very promising character but then her development sort of peters out and we never get any insight into why she decided to break her vow to Troilus and take up with Diomedes. So I’ll pick Cassandra as my favourite because although she has very little page time, I always felt bad for her whenever she came up in Greek mythology.

Insults with Style: Thersites and Ajax have some real gems of insults during their exchange in II.i. Here are some of the highlights:

  • cobloaf
  • stool for a witch
  • thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows
  • wears his wit in his belly, and his guts in his head


  • “give you the nod” (I.ii)
  • “Here, there, and everywhere” (V.v)

Speech to Know: As mentioned above, Cressida starts out pretty well. Her soliloquy about her secret love for Troilus is one of the better speeches in the play.

“Words, vows, gifts, tears, and love’s full sacrifice,
He offers in another’s enterprise:
But more in Troilus thousand-fold I see
Than in the glass of Pandar’s praise may be;
Yet hold I off. Women are angels, wooing:
Things won are done, joy’s soul lies in the doing:
That she belov’d knows naught that knows not this, –
Men prize the thing ungain’d more than it is:
That she was never yet that ever knew
Love got so sweet as when desire did sue:
Therefore this maxim out of love I teach, –
Achievement is command; ungain’d beseech:
then though my heart’s content firm love doth bear,
Nothing of that shall from mine eyes appear.” (I.ii)

View from the PitTroilus and Cressida is really far more Shakespeare’s attempt to do the Iliad. While Troilus and Cressida get some considerable page time, it is not truly their ill-fated romance that is the focus of the play, but rather the Trojan war that is the major focus of the play and both elements end up suffering for the lack of focus. Troilus and Cressida’s relationship disappears almost entirely from the second act and there is never really a satisfactory reason given as for why almost thirty seconds after vowing her eternal love for Troilus, Cressida drops him for Diomedes. The Trojan war also just doesn’t get all of the details that it deserves. Although Shakespeare gets the highlights, there are so many amazing details that he leaves behind. If he’d just left the Iliad to Homer and made it more of a background element to Troilus and Cressida’s relationship, the play would be much stronger. As it is, it’s just decent.