Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I feel it is very apt to share with you the single most important I have learnt from Shakespeare. Men, woo your ladies with wordplay.
What? I hear you cry. Wordplay? Surely a fine cross-gartered leg* or prowess in the lists** is more likely to win my love’s favour. No. I tell you truly, the best way to your lady’s heart is wordplay.
Egeus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream knew the truth when he says how Lysander has wooed his daughter:
Thou, thou Lysander, thou hast given her times
He wasn’t wrong either – Hermia proves herself most susceptible
Lys: then by your side no bed-room me deny, For, lying so, Hermia, I do not lie.
Her: Lysander riddles very prettily
In Twelfth Night Sir Andrew Aguecheek feels his lack of skill:
I would I had
bestowed that time in the tongues that I have in fencing, dancing and bear-baiting
And Olivia is roused from her indifference by Viola’s skill with words
I heard you were saucy at my gates, and allowed your approach.
Beatrice and Benedick have their “merry war” of words and even Henry V gets in on the act:
Hen: Do you like me, Kate?
Kat: pardonnez moy, I cannot tell vat is “like me.”
Hen: an angel is like you, Kate, and you are like an angel.
Well, nice customs curtsy to great kings. Pedantry is definitely the new sexy.
* modern equivalent: presumably the skinny jean.
** modern equivalent: managing to get a seat on a rush-hour train.