All right, so we’re a little past the Ides of March, but I couldn’t resist. Besides, Beware the End of March didn’t have the same ring. And, also, I do SO love to quote Shakespeare. Even better, I love to use Shakespeare when writing my books. To me, it adds a touch of refinement, fits perfectly with my Regency settings and my characters’ education level, and it can add a bit of foreshadowing or irony to my story.
I also love to use Shakespeare to emphasize an ironic twist. Two gentlemen sit together in the theatre, watching a performance of Julius Caesar, and all the while, the reader knows that one of the two is about to betray the other. Or the naïve nephew who spends a night enjoying Richard III and is completely unaware that in real life, he needs to be wary of his power-hungry uncle. For me there is an underlying message when I write scenes like this. That whole know-your-history-and-learn-from-it-or-you’re-doomed-to-repeat-it thing we’ve always heard about.
For me it’s also fun using Shakespeare to help capture a specific feeling for either the book as a whole or for a certain character in particular. I once cast a hero’s actress/ex-mistress in the role of Lady Macbeth, which allowed the heroine to equate her perceived rival with that of the notoriously vicious Scottish noblewoman. And another time, I used Much Ado About Nothing as the performance a bickering couple, who shared one or two similarities with Beatrice and Benedick, had to sit through. Of course, their companions found the evening much more amusing than did the pair I was picking on.
William Shakespeare had such amazing range with his comedies, tragedies, and histories. I honestly believe there is a play out there to match anyone’s personality. For me, knowing which of his plays most suits a particular character can give me a more in depth look into the psyche of the person I’m creating. Do they prefer the whimsical comedies that leave one happy and light-hearted? Or the more serious histories that delve into larger-than-life historical figures? Or his heart-breaking tragedies which all seem to teach one life lesson or another?
So, now, I'm going to play Barbara Walters. Tell me… If you were a Shakespearian play, which play would you be? And can you guess which one fits me?