Wonderful women! Have you ever thought how much we all, and women especially, owe to Shakespeare for his vindication of women in these fearless, high-spirited, resolute and intelligent heroines?
Left: Terry as Lady Macbeth, by John Singer Sargent, 1889.
Below: Dame Judi Dench as Juliet with John Stride as Romeo, 1960, The Old Vic.
It is sometimes suspected that the enthusiasm for Shakespeare's works shown by some students is a fiction or a fashion. It is not so. The justification of that enthusiastic admiration is in the fact that every increase of knowledge and deepening of wisdom in the critic or the student do but show still greater knowledge and deeper wisdom in the great poet. When, too, it is found that his judgment is equal to his genius, and that his industry is on a par with his inspiration, it becomes impossible to wonder or to admire too much.
—George Dawson (1821-1876), Shakespeare and other lectures
|Laurence Fishburne as Othello; Kenneth Branagh as Iago|
I do not believe that any writer has ever exposed this bovarysme, the human will to see things as they are not, more clearly than Shakespeare.—T. S. Eliot (1888-1965), Shakespeare and the Stoicism of Seneca
|Helena Bonham-Carter played Olivia in the film version of Twelfth Night and Ophelia in Hamlet (Warner Brothers/ Fine Line)|
In Shakespeare the birds sing, the bushes are clothed with green, hearts love, souls suffer, the cloud wanders, it is hot, it is cold, night falls, time passes, forests and multitudes speak, the vast eternal dream hovers over all. Sap and blood, all forms of the multiple reality, actions and ideas, man and humanity, the living and the life, solitudes, cities, religions, diamonds and pearls, dung-hills and charnelhouses, the ebb and flow of beings, the steps of comers and goers, all, all are on Shakespeare and in Shakespeare.—Victor Hugo (1802-1885), William Shakespeare
I think Shakespeare never errs in his logical sequence in character. He surprises us, seems unnatural to us, but because we have been superficial observers; while genius will disclose those truths to which we are blind.—William A. Quayle (1860-1925), "Some Words on Loving Shakespeare." From A hero and some other folk, 1900
Right: Paul Scofield and Claire Bloom in Hamlet, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1948. One of the 20th-century's greatest Hamlets, John Gielgud played the role more than 500 times, in London, in Elsinore, and on Broadway.