Unit Five Section B


”Good Name in Man and Woman”
by William Shakespeare

The play Othello is the tragic love story of Othello and his wife, Desdemona. In this speech, the cruel Iago begins to destroy Othello's faith in Desdemona. To what does lago compare a "Good name"?

Good name in man and woman.....
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my purse steals trash--'tis something, nothing, '
Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands--
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.

Developing Comprehension Skills

1. According to this passage, how important is a person's reputation?
2. Why is a "purse," or money, unimportant, according to the speaker?
3. How can a good name be stolen?
4. According to this passage, why is the loss of a name tragic? Do you agree or disagree?

”Tomorrow,, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow”
by William Shakespeare

As you know from your reading of Macbeth, the main character is driven from hope to despair. The following speech is made after Macbeth learns that his wife is dead. To what does Macbeth compare life?

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.
Out, Out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Developing Comprehension Skills

1. Does time pass quickly or slowly for the speaker?
2. What value does the speaker put on the past? Did the past provide anything that was good or worthwhile?
3. What does the "candle" represent in the fifth line?
4. What types of experiences in life might be represented by "sound and fury"?
5. Based on your understanding of Macbeth, why do you think Macbeth concludes that life is meaningless?
6. Do you think Macbeth had good reason to feel.despair? Explain your answer.

”All the World's a Stage” by William Shakespeare

As You Like It is a lighthearted comedy that concerns young lovers in the pursuit of happiness. This famous speech from As You Like It is delivered by a character named Jaques. What is his attitude toward life?

All the world's a stage
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then the whining school--boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel.
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing.
Developing Comprehension Skills

1. What are the seven ages of man?
2. Are any of the ages pleasant, according to Jaques? Explain your answer.
3. How are the first and last stages of life alike?
4. Both this speech and Macbeth's "Tomorrow, and Tomorrow" soliloquy compare life to a play. Do the comparisions reveal a similar or different attitude toward life? Explain.
5. Do you agree with Jaques’s evaluation of life? Why or why not?

”The Quality of Mercy” by William Shakespeare

Antonio, The Merchant of Venice, promises Shylock "a pound of his flesh" if he fails to repay a loan. When he cannot pay, a woman named Portia pleads with Shylock for mercy. What is her argument?

The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes: '
Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.....

Developing Comprehension Skills

1. In the first line, quality means "nature," and strained means "forced." Describe in your own words how mercy is supposed to be given.
2. In what way is mercy "twice blest"?
3. Why is mercy the best quality, or characteristic, of a king? Why is it better than his scepter?
4. Do you find Portia's speech persuasive? Why or why not?

”This Royal Throne of Kings”
by William Shakespeare

The play King Richard II centers on the last three years of the reign of Richard II. How does John of Gaunt, the king's uncle, praise England in the following passage?

This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
Fear'd by their breed and famous by their birth,
Renowned for their deeds as far from home,--
For Christian service and true chivalry,--
As is the sepulchre in stubborn Jewry
Of the world's ransom, blessed Mary's Son:
This land of such dear souls, this dear, dear land.

Developing Comprehension Skills

1. To what is England compared in the first line?
2. In line 7, England is compared to a piece of jewelry. In what way is the "silver sea" part of this jewelry?
3. What are John of Gaunt's feelings toward England?
4. What do you think might inspire a patriotic speech such as John of Gaunt's? Are you inspired by the same types of things? Explain.