City of Brass

City of Brass


Shakespeare as political analyst

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I’ll freely admit that I hold in mild contempt anyone who dare not acknowledge Hamlet as the very pinnacle of Shakespeare’s work. While most of the Bard’s tales are worthy of the label masterpiece in their own right, Hamlet stands alone (as is appropriate, given his choler).

However, Shakespeare’s genius was his wisdom about the human condition, and in many ways his observations – delivered as pithy quotes and comments by his characters across all his works – are truly timeless. It occurs to me that he had our modern day politics pegged, which gives me a kind of optimism. Here are just a few quotes that I found highly relevant, but there are surely more – feel free to suggest!

MacBeth, Act I Scene 3

Have we eaten on the insane root That takes the reason prisoner?

The Merchant of Venice, Act I Scene 3

The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose… O what a goodly outside falsehood hath!

Julius Caesar, Act IV, Scene 3

A friendly eye could never see such faults.

As You Like It, Act V Scene 4

O Sir, we quarrel in print, by the book, as you have books for good manners. I will name you the degrees. The first, the Retort Courteous; the second, the Quip Modest; the third, the Reply Churlish; the fourth, the Reproof Valiant; the fifth, the Countercheck Quarrelsome; the sixth, the Lie with Circumstance; the seventh, the Lie Direct.



  • Kauko

    Hamlet has always been my favorite Shakespeare play, I’ve never gotten sick of reading/ watching it.

  • mysticawi

    Macbeth is the ultimate dilemma of the human condition. It says it all. You don’t know whether to condemn him for his greed or feel sorry for him for his weakness and plight.

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