Time for some fun. Do you have a favorite scene from Shakespeare? Here's a couple of mine. Sound off below if you have one of your own.
Generally I don't much like Julius Caesar, but the last scene is excellent. In this scene, the army of Brutus and the other conspirators against Caesar has been defeated, and Brutus has just killed himself. Strato, the servant of Brutus, is one of the last of the conspirator's army, and is captured by their opponents, chiefly Octavian and Antony, together with a turncoat to Brutus, Messala. They encounter the still-loyal Strato. Some excerpts:
Alarum. Retreat. Enter OCTAVIUS, ANTONY, MESSALA, LUCILIUS, and the army
What man is that?
My master's man. Strato, where is thy master?
Free from the bondage you are in, Messala:
The conquerors can but make a fire of him;
For Brutus only overcame himself,
And no man else hath honour by his death.
* * *
How died my master, Strato?
I held the sword, and he did run on it.
Octavius, then take him to follow thee,
That did the latest service to my master.
This was the noblest Roman of them all:
All the conspirators save only he
Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;
He only, in a general honest thought
And common good to all, made one of them.
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world 'This was a man!'
Richard II has always been one of my favorites, there are many great lines, including John of Gaunt's famous "this England" speech. But in Act 3, Scene II comes an especially beautiful passage, which Shakespeare gives to Richard to express, upon learning that his cousin Bolingbroke has seized power, and that the greater part of his followers have been taken prisoner, executed, or deserted:
DUKE OF AUMERLE
Where is the duke my father with his power?
KING RICHARD II
No matter where; of comfort no man speak:
Let's talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;
Make dust our paper and with rainy eyes
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth,
Let's choose executors and talk of wills:
And yet not so, for what can we bequeath
Save our deposed bodies to the ground?
Our lands, our lives and all are Bolingbroke's,
And nothing can we call our own but death
And that small model of the barren earth
Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.
For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison'd by their wives: some sleeping kill'd;
All murder'd: for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchize, be fear'd and kill with looks,
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if this flesh which walls about our life,
Were brass impregnable, and humour'd thus
Comes at the last and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!
Cover your heads and mock not flesh and blood
With solemn reverence: throw away respect,
Tradition, form and ceremonious duty,
For you have but mistook me all this while:
I live with bread like you, feel want,
Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,
How can you say to me, I am a king?
Here's the same scene read by Richard Burton, who always seemed to get crappy parts that weren't really worthy of him. Not so here, although I think he delivers at too rapid a tempo for the material. But you can still hear his great voice, and his power as an actor comes through even with the voice alone:
Now, here is the same scene, imagined in quite a different way, and played at least in part for humor. I don't know if I quite agree with the interpretation, but it is skillfully done and bold: