William Shakespeare and Love for Valentine's Day
compiled by Diana Viola
Shakespeare writes about
No one knows love and lovers as
well as Shakespeare. Midsummer Night's Dream could be set on
Valentine's Day with Puck a frenzied Eros using drops in the eyes, rather
than darts in lovers hearts. Viola in Twelfth Night pines for love "like patience on a monument." Ophelia is driven mad by love - or rather the loss of love.
Celebrate this Valentine's Day, this season
of love with the most beautiful words in the English language. Then
have a romantic dinner with candlelight, flowers, the finest wine you can buy and a chocolate treat for dessert. Love conquers all, love is the greatest part of any human being.
In Twelfth Night,
Olivia asks Viola, here disguised as a boy, what she (he) would do if
in love. Viola responds with the following. Please replace the name Olivia
with the one you love the most.
"Make me a willow cabin
at your gate
And call upon my soul within the house;
Write loyal cantons of contemnèd love
And sing them loud, even in the dead of night:
Halloo your name to the reverberate hills
And make the babbling gossip of the air
Cry out Olivia. O, you should not rest
Between the elements of air and earth
But you should pity me."
In As You Like it, Rosalind
tells Orlando, why he does not seem to be in love. He asks her what
are the marks of a lover...
"A lean cheek, which
you have not;
a blue eye and sunken, which you have not;
an unquestionable spirit, which you have not;
a beard neglected which you have not...
Then your hose should be ungartered, your bonnet unbanded,
your sleeve unbuttoned, your shoe untied,
and everything about you demonstrating a careless desolation."
Shakespeare talks of Valentine's
Day, giving Ophelia an off-color song to sing in her mad scene in Hamlet.
"To-morrow is Saint
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose and donned his clo'es
And dupped the chamber door,
Let in the maid, that out a maid,
Never departed more."
"Lord, what fools these mortals be."
A Midsummer Night's Dream