their problems might reflect our own future.
(Wall, online, no pagination)
Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods
More free from peril than the envious court?
Here feel we not the penalty of Adam,
Which when it bites and blows upon my body
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile, and say
Sweet are the uses of adversity
Which, like the toad, ugly and venemous,
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
(II, i, 1-17)
Art thou thus boldened man, by thy distress?
Or else a rude despiser of good manners,
You touched my vein at first. The thorny point
And know some nurture. But forebear, I say.
He dies that touches any of this fruit
An you will not be answered with reason, I must
What would you have? Your gentleness shall force
More than your force move us to gentleness.
Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table.
Speak you so gently? Pardon me, I pray you.
I thought that all things had been savage here,
And therefore put I on the countenance
That in this desert inaccessible,
Under the shade of melancholy boughs,
Lose and neglect the creeping hours of time,
If ever you have looked on better days,
If ever been where bells have knolled to church,
If ever from your eyelids wiped a tear,
Let gentleness my strong enforcement be.
In the which hope I blush, and hide my sword.
True is it that we have seen better days,
And have with holy bell been knolled to church,
Of drops that sacred pity hath engendered.
And therefore sit you down in gentleness,
And take upon command what help we have
That to your wanting may be ministered.
Then but forebear your food a little while
Whiles, like a doe, I go to find my fawn
And give it food. There is an old poor man
Who after me hath many a weary step
Oppressed with two weak evils, age and hunger,
I will not touch a bit.
Go find him out,
And we will nothing waste till you return.
Thou seest we are not all alone unhappy.
The wide and universal theatre
Presents more woeful pageants than the scene
Wherein we play in.
(II, vii, 91-138)
strength and courage from within their lives in order to overcome their problems. The essence of compassion is empowerment. (Soka Gakkai International, no pagination)
Good morrow, Hubert.
Good morrow, little Prince.
As little prince, having so great a title
Indeed I have been merrier.
(IV, i, 9-12)
If I talk to him, with his innocent prate
Therefore I will be sudden, and dispatch.
Are you sick, Hubert? You look pale today.
In sooth, I would you were a little sick,
That I might sit all night and watch with you.
I warrant I love you more than you do me.
His words do take possession of my bosom.
(IV, i, 28-32)
Here the spark of Compassion is ignited and flies across the gulf, awakening the sleeping love in Hubert, who would quash it before it takes effect. Notice that what is instrumental is the Compassion of the victim.
He shows Arthur a paper
Read here, young Arthur. (Aside) How now: foolish rheum,
Turning dispiteous torture out of doors?
I must be brief, lest resolution drop
Out at mine eyes in tender womanish tears.
(To Arthur) Can you not read it? Is it not fair writ?
(IV, i, 33-37)
Too fairly, Hubert, for so foul effect.
Must you with hot irons burn out both mine eyes?
Young boy, I must.
And will you?
And I will.
Have you the heart? When your head did but ache
I knit my handkerchief about your brows,
And with my hand at midnight held your head,
And like the watchful minutes to the hour
Still and anon cheered up the heavy time,
But you at your sick service had a prince.
Nay, you may think my love was crafty love,
And call it cunning. Do, an if you will.
If heaven be pleased that you must use me ill,
Why then you must. Will you put out mine eyes,
These eyes that never did, nor never shall,
So much as frown on you?
I have sworn to do it,
And with hot irons must I burn them out.
Ah, none but in this iron age would do it.
The iron of itself, though red hot,
Approaching near these eyes would drink my tears,
And quench his fiery indignation
Nay, after that, consume away in rust,
But for containing fire to harm mine eye.
Are you more stubborn-hard than hammered iron?
An if an angel should have come to me
And told me Hubert should put out mine eyes,
(Hubert stamps his foot)
(The Executioners come forth)
Do as I bid you do.
O, save me, Hubert, save me! My eyes are out
Even with the fierce looks of these bloody men.
Give me the iron, I say, and bind him here.
(He takes the iron)
Alas, what need you be so boisterous rough?
Nay, hear me, Hubert! Drive these men away,
I will not stir, nor wince, nor speak a word,
Nor look upon the iron angerly.
Whatever torment you do put me to.
(IV, i, 38-83)
Go stand within. Let me alone with him.
(IV, i, 84)
It is at this point that the principle of Compassion breaks into view.
Alas, I then have chid away my friend!
He hath a stern look, but a gentle heart.
Let him come back, that his compassion may
Give life to yours.
(IV, i, 85-89)
Come, boy, prepare yourself.
Is there no remedy?
None but to lose your eyes.
O God, that there were but a mote in yours,
A grain, a dust, a gnat, a wandering hair,
Any annoyance in that precious sense,
Then, feeling what small things are boisterous there,
Your vile intent must needs seem horrible.
Is this your promise? Go to, hold your tongue!
Hubert, the utterance of a brace of tongues
Must needs want pleading for a pair of eyes.
Or, Hubert, if you will, cut out my tongue,
So I may keep mine eyes. O, spare mine eyes,
Though to no use but still to look on you.
Lo, by my troth, the instrument is cold
And would not harm me.
(I, i, 90-104)
I can heat it, boy.
No, in good sooth: the fire is dead with grief,
Being create for comfort, [not] to be used
In undeserved extremes. See else yourself.
The breath of heaven hath blown his spirit out,
And strewed repentant ashes on his head.
But with my breath I can revive it, boy.
(IV, i, 104-111)
An if you do, you will but make it blush
And glow with shame of your proceedings, Hubert.
Nay, it perchance will sparkle in your eyes,
And like a dog that is compelled to fight,
Snatch at his master that doth tarre him on.
All things that you should use to do me wrong
That mercy which fierce fire and iron extends,
Creatures of note for mercy-lacking uses.
Well, see to live. I will not touch thine eye
For all the treasure that thine uncle owes.
Yet am I sworn, and I did purpose, boy,
With this same very iron to burn them out.
O, now you look like Hubert. All this while
You were disguised.
(IV, i, 112-126)
Lest it see more, prevent it. Out, vile jelly!
Where is thy lustre now?
Edmond, enkindle all the sparks of nature
To quite this horrid act.
Out, treacherous villain!
That made the overture of thy treasons to us,
Who is too good to pity thee.
O, my follies! Then Edgar was abused.
Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him!
Go thrust him out at gates, and let him smell
His way to Dover.
(III, vii, 81-92)
Shame and confusion, all is on the rout!
Fear frames disorder, and disorder wounds
Where it should guard. O, war, thou son off hell,
Whom angry heavens do make their minister,
Throw in the frozen bosoms of our part
Hot coals of vengeance! Let no soldier fly!
He that is truly dedicate to war
Hath not essentially, but by circumstance,
The name of valour.
O, let the vile world end,
Knit earth and heaven together.
Now let the general trumpet blow his blast,
Particularities and petty sounds
To lose thy youth in peace, and to achieve
And in thy reverence and thy chair-days, thus
To die in ruffian battle? Even at this sight
No more will I their babes. Tears virginal
Shall be to me even as the dew to fire,
Shall to my flaming wrath be oil and flax.
Henceforth I will not have to do with pity.
Meet I an infant of the house of York,
Into as many gobbets will I cut it
As wild Medea young Absyrtus did.
In cruelty will I seek out my fame.
As did Aeneas old Anchises bear,
So bear I thee upon my manly shoulders.
But then Aeneas bare a living load,
Nothing so heavy as these woes of mine
My gracious liege, this is too much lenity
And harmful pity must be laid aside.
To whom do lions cast their gentle looks?
Not to the beast that would usurp their den.
(II, ii, 9-12)
Or is it fear that makes him close his eyes?
That trembles under his devouring paws,
And so he comes to rend his limbs asunder.
Ah, gentle Clifford, kill me with thy sword
Sweet Clifford, hear me speak before I die.
I am too mean a subject for thy wrath.
Be thou revenged on men, and let me live.
Hath stopped the passage where thy words should enter.
He is a man, and, Clifford, cope with him.
Had I brethren here, their lives and thine
Were not revenge sufficient for me.
And hung their rotten coffins up in chains,
It could not slake mine ire nor ease my heart.
Is as a fury to torment my soul.
And leave not one alive, I live in Hell.
O. let me pray before I take my death.
The father hath.
Lest in revenge thereof, sith God is just,
He be as miserably slain as I.
Ah, let me live in prison all my days,
And when I give occasion of offence,
Then let me die, for now thou hast no cause.
No cause? Thy father slew my father, therefore die.
Shall rust upon my weapon till thy blood,
Congealed with this, do make me wipe off both.
(Part Three, I, iii, 10-52)
What, shall I stab him as he sleeps?
Why, he shall never wake until the great judgment day.
What, art thou afraid?
Not to kill him, having a warrant, but to be damned for killing him, from the which no warrant can defend me.
I thought thou hadst been resolute.
Nay, I pray thee. Stay a little. I hope this passionate humour of mine will change.
It was wont to hold me but while one tells twenty.
How dost thou feel thyself now?
Some certain dregs of conscience are yet within me.
When he opens his purse to give us our reward, thy conscience flies out.
What if it come to thee again?
it accuseth him. A man cannot swear but it checks him. A man cannot lie
once restore a purse of gold that by chance I found. It beggars any man that
keeps it. It is turned out of towns and cities for a dangerous thing, and every
man that means to live well endeavors to trust to himself and live without it.
Take the devil in thy mind, and believe him not: he would insinuate with thee
but to make thee sigh.
Spoke like a tall man that respects thy reputation. Come, shall we work?
(I, iv, 97-141)
It is in King Henry VI, Part Three that we are introduced to the mature Richard of Gloucester and his manner of thinking. Descanting on his own deformity he draws a strange inference: he will be a bad person.
And am I then a man to be beloved?
O, monstrous fault, to harbour such a thought!
Then, since this earth affords no joy to me
As are of better person than myself,
Until my misshaped trunk that bears this head
(King Henry VI, Part Three, III, ii, 165-171)
Why, I can smile, and murder whiles I smile,
And wet my cheeks with artificial tears,
And frame my face to all occasions.
Deceive more slyly than Ulysses could,
And, like a Sinon, take another Troy.
I can add colours to the chameleon,
Change shapes with Proteus for advantages,
And set the murderous Machiavel to school.
Can I do this, and cannot get a crown?
(III, ii, 182-195)
Then fly! What, from myself? Great reason. Why?
Lest I revenge. Myself upon myself?
That I myself have done unto myself?
O, no, alas, I rather hate myself
For hateful deeds committed by myself.
I am a villain. Yet I lie: I am not.
My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,
And every tongue brings in a several tale,
And every tale condemns me for a villain.
All several sins, all used in each degree,
And if i die no soul will pity me.
Find in myself no pity to myself.
(King Richard III, V, v, 134-157)
If by your art, my dearest father, you have
Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them.
The sky, it seems, would pour down stinking pitch,
Dashes the fire out. O, I have suffered
With those that I saw suffer! A brave vessel,
Who had, no doubt, some noble creature in her,
Dashed all to pieces! O, the cry did knock
Against my very heart! Poor souls, they perished.
Had I been any god of power, I would
Have sunk the sea within the earth, or ere
It should the good ship so have swallowed and
The fraughting souls within her.
(I, ii, 1-13)
The direful spectacle of the wreck, which touched
The very virtue of compassion in thee,
I have with such provision in mine art
No, not so much perdition as an hair
Betid to any creature in the vessel,
(I, ii, 25-32)
His choice of trope is also deliberate, for he thereby means to distinguish his teaching from the philosophies of Stoicism and Epicureanism, both of which condemn sympathy and compassion.
Compare Lucretius, in his famous classic, De Rerum Natura.
Suave magni maro turbantibus aequora ventis
non quia vexari quemquast jucunda voluptas,
sed quibus ipse malis careas quia cemere suave est.
(Book II, line 1)
Rendered in English by Mr. William Ellery Leonard, this is:
The winds from the land
Roll up its waste of waters,
Not that we joyously delight that man
To mark what evils we ourselves be spared.
(De Rerum Natura, Project Gutenberg, Book II)
That if you now beheld them your affections
Would become tender.
Dost thou think so, spirit?
Mine would, sir, were I human.
And mine shall.
Hast thou, which art but air, a touch, a feeling
Of their afflictions, and shall not myself,
One of their kind, that relish all as sharply
Passion as they, be kindlier moved than thou art?
Do I take part. The rarer action is
In virtue than in vengeance. They being penitent,
The sole drift of my purpose doth extend
Not a frown further. Go release them, Ariel.
And they shall be themselves.
(V, i, 17-32)
O, Cassius, I am sick of many griefs.
To which his partner responds:
Of your philosophy you make no use,
If you give place to accidental evils.
(IV, ii, 196-198)
I must be here confined by you
Since I have my dukedom got,
And pardoned the deceiver, dwell
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands.
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
And my ending is despair
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so, that it assaults
Mercy itself, and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardoned be,
Let your indulgence set me free.
Give us the proudest prisoner of the Goths,
That we may hew his limbs and on a pile
Ad manes fratrum sacrifice his flesh
Before this earthly prison of their bones,
That so the shadows be not unappeased,
Nor we disturbed with prodigies on earth.
(I, i, 96-101)
Stay, Roman brethren! Gracious conquerer,
And if thy sons were ever dear to thee,
O, think my son to be as dear to me!
Sufficeth not that we are brought to Rome
To beautify thy triumphs, and return
But must my sons be slaughtered in the streets
O, if to fight for king and commonweal
Were piety in thine, it is in these.
Andronicus, stain not thy tomb with blood.
Wilt thou draw near the nature of the gods?
Draw near them then in being merciful
Thrice-noble Titus, spare my first-born son.
(I, i, 104-120)
See, lord and father, how we have performed
And entrails feed the sacrificing fire,
Whose smoke like incense doth perfume the sky.
Remaineth naught but to inter our brethren
(I, i, 142-147)
I will not hear her speak. Away with her!
Sweet lords, entreat her hear me but a word.
Listen, fair madam, let it be your glory
To see her tears, but be your heart to them
As unrelenting flint to drops of rain.
O, do not learn her wrath! She taught it thee.
Even at thy teat thou hadst thy tryanny.
Yet every mother brreeds not sons alike.
What, wouldst thou have me prove myself a bastard?
The lion, moved to pity, did endure
To have his princely paws pared all away.
Some say that ravens foster forlorn children
The whilst their own birds famish in their nests.
O, be to me, though thy hard heart say no,
Nothing so kind, but something pitiful.
I know not what she means. Away with her!
That gave thee life when well he might have slain
Be not obdurate, open thy deaf ears.
Remember, boys, I poured forth tears in vain
To save your brother from the sacrifice,
But fierce Andronicus would not relent.
The worse to her, the better loved of me.
(II, iii, 136-167)
What dost thou strike at, Marcus, with thy knife?
Mine eyes are cloyed with view of tyranny.
A deed of death done on the innocent
Alas, my lord, I have but killed a fly.
How would he hang his slender gilded wings
And buss lamenting dirges in the air!
Poor harmless fly,
That with his pretty buzzing melody
Pardon me, sir, it was a black ill-favoured fly,
Then pardon me for reprehending thee,
For thou hast done a charitable deed.
Give me thy knife. I will insult on him,
Flattering myself as if it were the Moor
Come hither purposely to poison me.
Yet I think we are not brought so low
But that between us we can kill a fly
That comes in likeness of a coal-black Moor.
(III, ii, 52-77)
Out of hearing, Marcus laments:
Alas, poor man! Grief has so wrought on him
He takes false shadows for true substances.
(III, ii, 78-79)
Why dost thou laugh? It fits not with this hour.
Why, I have not another tear to shed.
Besides, this sorrow is an enemy,
And make them blind with tributary tears.
(III, i, 264-269)
Andronicus, stain not thy tomb with blood.
Wilt thou draw near the nature of the gods?
Draw near them then in being merciful.
(I, i, 116-119)
Shakespeare is an artist, not a discursive philosopher. The issue comes to the fore not in dispassionate argument, but in the cry of helplessness at moments of loss and nearly unbearable sorrow, the sort of harrowing experiences counselors like Cynthia Wall must confront in the course of their business. (See, Introduction, supra) Thus, later in the play, we hear the question of divinity sounded again, as Titus meets his pillaged daughter, arms hacked off and tongue cut out to silence her.
O, why should nature build so foul a den,
Unless the gods delight in tragedies?
(IV, i, 58-59)
What resolution does Marcus find in his dilemma?
O heavens, can you hear a good man groan
And not relent, or not compassion him?
Marcus, attend him in his ecstasy,
That hath more scars of sorrow in his heart,
But yet so just that he will not revenge.
Revenge the heavens for old Andronicus!
(IV, i, 122-128)
b) Pericles, Prince of Tyre
The god of this great vast rebuke these surges
Upon the winds command, bind them in brass,
Having called them from the deep. O still
Is as a whisper in the ears of death,
Divinest patroness, and midwife gentle
To those that cry by night, convey thy deity
Aboard our dancing boat, make swift the pangs
Here is a thing too young for such a place,
Who, if it had conceit, would die, as I
Am like to do. Take in your arms this piece
Of your dead queen.
How, how, Lychordia?
Patience, good sir, do not assist the storm.
A little daughter. For sake of it
Be manly, and take comfort.
O you gods!
Why do you make us love your goodly gifts,
And snatch them straight away? We here below
Recall not what we give, and therein may
Vie honour with you.
Your castle is surprised, your wife and babes
Savagely slaughtered. To relate the manner
Were on the quarry of these murdered deer
To add the death of you.
Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak
My children too?
Wife, children, servants, all
That could be found.
My wife killed too?
I have said.
To cure this deadly grief.
He has no children. All my pretty ones?
What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
At one fell swoop?
Dispute it like a man.
I shall do so,
But I must also feel it as a man.
I cannot but remember such things were
That were most precious to me. Did heaven look on
And would not take their part?
(IV, iii, 205-226)
d) King Henry V
How yet resolves the Governor of the town?
This is the latest parle we will admit.
Therefore to our best mercy give yourselves,
Or like to men proud of destruction
Defy us to our worst. For as I am a soldier,
A name that in my thoughts becomes me best,
The gates of mercy shall be all shut up,
And the fleshed soldier, rough and hard of heart,
With conscience wide as hell, mowing like grass
(King Henry V, III, iii, 84-97)
We would have all such offenders so cut off, and we here give express charge
that in our marches through the country there be nothing compelled from the
villages, nothing taken but paid for, none of the French upbraided or abused
in disdainful language. For when lenity and cruelty play for a kingdom,
the gentler gamester is the soonest winner.
(III, vi, 108-114)
As Alexander killed his friend Cleitus, being in his ales and his cups,
so also Harry Monmouth, being in his right wits and his good
Sir John Falstaff.
(IV, vii, 43-50)
All offences, my lord, come from the heart.
Never came any from mine that might offend your
It was ourself thou didst abuse.
Your majesty came not like yourself. You
appeared to me but as a common man. Witness the
night, your garments, your lowliness. And what your
highness suffered under that shape, I beseech you take
it for your own fault, and not mine, for had you been
as I took you for, I made no offence. Therefore I beseech
your highness pardon me.
(VI, viii, 47-57)
The prayer is revealing and worth looking at.
Possess them not with fear. Take from them now
Pluck their hearts from them. Not today, O Lord,
O, not today, think not upon the fault
My father made in compassing the crown.
And on it have bestowed more contrite tears
Five hundred poor have I in yearly pay
Who twice a day their withered hands hold up
Toward heaven to pardon blood. And I have built
Two chantries, where the sad and solemn priests
Though all that I can do is nothing worth,
Since that my penitence comes after ill,
(IV, i, 286-301)
And we have your permission to do this, correct?
Uh, yeah, you could say that.
Sounds like you had a big adventure.
Yeah, it was crazy there for a while.
Yes. But even at the last hearing I thought he was dead.
Did he know you were a postulant?
Well, at first he was a friar, and then I was trying to help my brother and the Magistrate, he tried to . . .
Tried to what?
So what happened?
Really? And did you do it?
No, of course not.
Where was the Duke all this time?
Oh, he was around, I would talk to him, but I thought he was Friar Lodowick.
His name is Lord Angelo.
Had you ever met him before?
So why do you think he made an indecent proposal to you? Did you behave seductively in any way?
OK, then what happened?
What did you say? Do you recall?
As much for my poor brother as myself.
That is, were I under the terms of death,
And strip myself to death as to a bed
My body up to shame.
(II, iv, 99-104)
What happened then?
He asked me to take off my clothes (II, iv, 138) and asked me to give him love.
And you refused?
He got very angry and said Claudio was going to be executed, and that if I told anyone about what he proposed, it would be my word against his and no one would believe me. (III, iv, 154-170)
And do you have any idea why he behaved as he did?
None at all?
Do you think of yourself as attractive, Isabella?
How did you feel when I asked you if you were attractive?
Well, if you put it that way. . .
What are you implying?
Claudio and Juliet had sex, correct?
And then he asked you to have sex with him, I take it?
So what do you think?
What about those words you used?
Were those bad words?
May be something there to think about . . .
Tell me about your mother and father.
OK, my mom died when I was nine.
And you had a younger brother.
And after your mom died, did your father remarry?
So, who took care of the household after your mom passed away?
You took care of your Dad?
Yes, and did the laundry and I also had my studies to keep up with.
Right. You were still in school.
And then your Dad died too.
Yeah, after three years.
I see. And during those three years were you pretty close to him?
What do you mean by that? What are you suggesting?
So what happened with you and your Dad?
Is that what you told the intake nurse?
I think so.
Oh. Yeah, one time he came in to check on me.
I asked him to leave.
And after that?
Do you remember coming to see the prioress? You wanted to move out of your house?
And what happened?
And he was starting to see your friend, Juliet, right?
I understand that at the last hearing the Duke asked you to marry him.
And the Duke sentenced Angelo to death.
And what did you do?
I begged the Duke for mercy.
Mercy on the man who tried to coerce you into sex, right?
Do you recall the words you said on that occasion?
Yes, shall I repeat them?
Most bounteous sir,
Look, if it please you, on this man condemned
A due sincerity governed his deeds,
In that he did the thing for which he died.
That perished by the way. Thoughts are no subjects,
Intents but merely thoughts.
So you pleaded for mercy on behalf of the man who would not show mercy to your brother unless you gave him sex. Is that right?
Yes, I guess so.
See you next time.
O, my offense is rank! It smells to heaven.
Though inclination be as sharp as will,
My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent,
And like a man to double business bound
I stand in pause where I shall first begin,
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy
But to confront the visage of offence?
That cannot be, since I am still possessed
My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
In the corrupted currents of this world
There is no shuffling, there the action lies
In his true nature, and we ourselves compelled
Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults
Try what repentance can. What can it not?
Yet what can it when one cannot repent?
O wretched state, O bosom black as death,
Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe.
All may be well.
be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all. Since no man has
aught of what he leaves, what is it to leave betimes?
(V, ii, 165-170)
The Los Angeles Times, September 29, 2009
Soka Gakkhai International
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays.
To comment on this essay, please click here.
If you have enjoyed this essay by David P. Gontar and would like to read more, please click here.