Dr. Michael Delahoyde
Washington State University


In addition to the intentional reliances upon Shakespeare, we have incorporated the Elizabethan ideological repertoire, often unconsciously, into our culture.


There are tons. See, for example, here.


You can't swing a dead cat without bonking into a "construct-your-own-Shakespearean-insult" device: a web page, refrigerator magnets, toy contraptions, circulating e-mail, etc. A plague on't!

Here's one online:
The Shakespeare Insult Server

One suspects that this phenomenon is linked with the "Bits & Pieces" sound-bite would-be wisdom flooding our print landscape: little nuggets extracted from any context whatsoever (including Shakespeare too again) and posturing as deep insight. Anymore around here, it's like Polonius exploded.

Anyway, the insult kit is naturally more dynamic because it gives people a more dignified vocabulary for their colossal road-rage on the donkey-path of life. Otherwise we'd all just be "big, dumb, butt-heads." Now we're "pribbling, hedge-born clotpoles."


"Shakespeare is good in English, but you need to read him in the original Klingon...."
And you can, thanks to the Klingon Shakespeare Restoration Project.

Former English 305 student Sean Hall plunged into the intricate relationships between Shakespeare and Star Trek, and he reports here.


The opening sequence of The Lion King is a useful if odd popular cultural artifact for showing somewhat Shakespearean themes and the political context. The film makes no sense in terms of animal behavior and reflects a political system Americans are not supposed to believe in. So where is this coming from? Politically, the court structure has nothing to do with lions, nor do the messianic aspects. The monkey who anoints the cub functions like an Archbishop of Canterbury at a royal court. We get instead iconic (God-) Sun-King implications.

The "circle of life" blurs somehow with the Great Chain of Being: the supposedly natural hierarchy (cp. Julius Caesar I.1.115f). Lions eat baboons. In fact, all the animals cheering their new lord are on his menu.

From then on, for reflections of the Body Politic, see Henry IV.2, Hamlet (I.iii.17f, I.ii.135, I.iv.89), Richard II, and Richard III. Scar is Richard III. The regicide/fratricide comes from Hamlet.

The plot centers on Primogeniture. Birthright carries princely responsibility and you can't get out of it. Your worth is innate vs. earned; you may attempt to opt out as do Prince Hal and this lion; but the Hakuna Matata days are soon over. One difference is that Falstaff is not brought into the kingdom in the end as Pumbaa and Timon are. Disney is one weird mamma-jamma.

Shakespeare Index