Posted in From The Editor's Desk, Language, Shakespeare

“Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.” (Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene 2)

Taking a page (see what I did there? ) from the earlier blog post this week on Shakespeare, and bringing you, the reader,  interesting information on how the characters die in Shakespearean plays, and their violent ends.

One does not have to look far to find the central theme of Death in Shakespeare’s plays. Stabbed, poisoned, stabbed and poisoned, snakebite, beheaded, lack of sleep (Lady Macbeth), a broken heart (Lady Montague), and smothered (Desdemona), are just a few of the ways the characters have died.  There are 74 deaths in Shakespearean plays.

Causes of Death in Shakespeare plays chart via



No, no, the drink, the drink, – O my dear Hamlet,-
The drink, the drink! I am poison’d.
Queen Gertrude, Hamlet
Act V, Scene II

Arms, take your last embrace. And, lips, O you
The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss
A dateless bargain to engrossing death.
(kisses JULIET, takes out the poison)
Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavoury guide.
Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on
The dashing rocks thy seasick, weary bark.
Here’s to my love! (drinks the poison) O true apothecary,
Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.

Romeo, Romeo and Juliet
Act V, Scene III


Yea, noise? Then I’ll be brief. O happy dagger,
This is thy sheath. There rust and let me die.
(stabs herself with ROMEO’s dagger and dies)
Romeo and Juliet
Act V, Scene III

Editor’s Note: this can also double in the category of Suicide


Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have
Immortal longings in me.
Cleopatra, Antony and Cleopatra
Act V, Scene II

Editor’s Note: Cleopatra puts an asp to her breast and it bites her. She dies from its venom.

…his fiend-like queen,
Who, as ’tis thought, by self and violent hands
Took off her life;
Malcolm, Macbeth
Act V, Scene VIII

Editor’s Note: Malcolm is talking about Lady Macbeth. We find out in Act V, Scene V that she is dead. In the last lines of Macbeth does the reader infer that she committed suicide.

Baked in a Pie

I think Lavinia’s death in Titus Andronicus is probably the most gruesome for me. First, she is raped by Chiron and Demetrius, then her tongue is cut out and her hands are cut off so she can’t incriminate them. Once she uses a staff in her mouth to spell out their names, her father, Titus, cuts their throats, and uses their blood in the meat pie.  Titus then kills Lavinia.

Die, die, Lavinia, and thy shame with thee;
And, with thy shame, thy father’s sorrow die!

Editor’s Note: When Titus learns that Chiron and Demetrius have raped and dismembered his daughter, he not only kills them but bakes them into a pie that he feeds to their mother, Tamora.

Why, there they are both, baked in that pie;
Whereof their mother daintily hath fed,
Eating the flesh that she herself hath bred.
‘Tis true, ’tis true; witness my knife’s sharp point.
Titus Andronicus, Titus Andronicus
Act V, Scene III

In Twelfth Night, The FOOL sings in  Act II, Scene IV:

Come away, come away, death,
And in sad cypress let me be laid.
Fly away, fly away breath,
I am slain by a fair cruel maid.
My shroud of white, stuck all with yew,
O, prepare it!
My part of death, no one so true
Did share it.
Not a flower, not a flower sweet
On my black coffin let there be strown.
Not a friend, not a friend greet
My poor corpse, where my bones shall be thrown.
A thousand thousand sighs to save,
Lay me, O, where
Sad true lover never find my grave,

To weep there!


In short form, Shakespeare’s Tragedies: Everybody Dies.

Plus, the best death ever, in my opinion is the stage direction from The Winter’s Tale. [Exit, pursued by a bear], from Act III, Scene 3. 

Shakespeare’s Tragedies: Everybody Dies graphic, original concept by Cam Magee. Design ©Caitlin S Griffin 2012. Courtesy of Flavorwire.


Did You Know?

Detailing all of the Bard’s 74 scripted deaths, there will be a play in May 2016 called The Complete Deaths.  Performed by just four actors, it will open at the Northampton Royal and Derngate Theatre in Northampton, UK before heading to the Brighton Festival for its official premiere and touring the country.

For Further Reading

Anne R. Allen’s Poisoning People for Fun and Profit — Part 1: Digitalis

Amanda Mabillard’s  Violence in Shakespeare’s Plays.

No Sweat Shakespeare’s Violence in Macbeth.

Folger Shakespeare Library’s Famous Last Words From Shakespeare.

The Dead and the Dying make for Live! Theater

Posted in Language, Shakespeare

“And one man in his time plays many parts…” (As You Like It, Act 2, Scene 7)


Today, April 23, 2016,  marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and 452nd birthday.  In honor of this auspicious occasion, here are a few things you may not have known about him.

One: Translations into Klingon

Hamlet and Midsummer Night’s Dream have been translated into Klingon as part of the Klingon Shakespeare Restoration Project by the Klingon Language Institute. It stems from the line in Star Trek VI  by Klingon Chancellor Gorkon, who said, “You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.”

The cover of the Klingon Hamlet courtesy of Amazon

Also, don’t forget the phenomenal Christopher Plummer, who plays General Chang, in Star Trek VI, who perfected The Shakespeare. Check out the Transmedial Shakespeare to see all of his performances.

Two: Cursed Grave Marker

Shakespeare grave marker courtesy of No Sweat Shakespeare

There is a curse as an epitaph on Shakespeare’s grave, at Trinity Church, Stratford-on-Avon, written by Shakespeare himself.


To see an analysis of what it means, see The Hudson Review.
Shakespeare’s grave was scanned in march 2016 to search below ground.
They think his skull was stolen from his grave.

Three: Multiple Spellings of Shakespeare’s name

One of three signatures on Shakespeare’s will

Shakespeare’s name has multiple spellings recorded. It seems as though he never signed the same way twice, at least in the six surviving records of his signature. Shakespeare spelt his name as follows in legal documentation (his will, his mortgage, his purchase of a house, and a deposition in the Bellott v Mountjoy case of 1612).

  • Willm Shakp
  • William Shakspēr
  • Wm Shakspē
  • William Shakspere
  • Willm Shakspere
  • By me William Shakspeare 

Four: His father was an ale taster

Shakespeare’s father, John Shakespeare, was an expert craftsman in high quality leather goods and gloves. When they moved to Stratford-on-Avon, William’s father was appointed to one of the highest ranking public offices in the town: official ale-taster in 1556. In Elizabethan times, an ale-taster, or ‘conning’ was an important position.

As per Mental Floss:

Since Medieval times, towns across England had appointed official “conners” to test the strength and quality of all locally-brewed ale to ensure that it was sold for a fair price, and would therefore raise an appropriate amount of taxable revenue. The job ultimately carried a considerable amount of responsibility—conners were required to swear an oath, and were given the power to lower the price of ale they deemed to be of poor quality, and to report breweries that were sub-standard or engaged in fraudulent, underhanded practices.

Five: King James Bible

In Psalm 46 of the King James Bible,  the 46th word is ‘shake‘ and the 46th word from the end of the same Psalm is ‘spear‘.  Rumor has it that it was written that way as a hidden happy birthday message to him. The King James Bible was published in 1611, the same year Shakespeare was turning 46.

46 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Bonus: Shakespeare Infographics

Shakespeare in Statistics courtesy of Shakespeare520


‘Things we say today, which we owe to Shakespeare’ courtesy of NPR

 Happy Birthday to the Bard!