Shakespeare’s Universal Language

“A heavier task could not have been imposed
Than I to speak my griefs unspeakable:
Yet, that the world may witness that my end
Was wrought by nature, not by vile offence.”

After Aegeon is asked to explain why he came to Ephesus from his native Syracusa, we immediately, after he begins speaking, begin to feel sympathy for him. We don’t know exactly what he is going to say, but we are eager to find out. Things “wrought by nature, not by vile offence” could be multitudinous. This could even refer to (although it doesn’t in this case) sexual orientation—something brought on by human nature harboring no shameful offence. It’s interesting how universal Shakespeare’s language is and how it can apply to all sorts of things in our everyday lives. There’s a quote from Measure for Measure, “Good cousellors lack no clients.” That is an amazing yet simple revelation. It is used to describe lawyers nowadays, but in the play it was talking about prostitution as ‘counselor’ was a euphemism for ‘whore’. The quote from Hamlet, “Something’s rotten in the state of Denmark,” can be used anytime foul play is suspected somewhere. The list could go on and on. The same quote can be looked at from sundry different angles and mean totally different things giving new life to words long since written.


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