Announcing Father’s Day Week on Shakespearean Student!

Hello everyone!

Happy Father’s Day! I’ve been teaching a number of classes these past few days so I haven’t had much time to post but in honor of Father’s Day- here’s a bunch of my favorite past Father’s Day posts:

  1. Shakespearean Father’s Day Cards: Find some nice Shakespearean sentiment to show your Shakespearean dad how much you care. 
Special posts for Father's Day!
Shakespearean Greeting Cards from Immortal
  • 2. Bios of William Shakespeare and John Shakespeare Both Shakespeare and his father had children, and both worked hard to make a better life for their offspring, so I thought I’d tell you some of their life stories so you can learn more about these great men.
The house on Henley Street, where Shakespeare was born in 1564. Click here to learn more about Shakespeare’s birthplace.
  • 3. My Picks For Top 5 Best and Worst Dads in Shakespeare I’ve gone through the entire cannon from As You Like It to Alls Well That Ends Well, and picked out the dads whom I think deserve recognition either as great or terrible parents. Who will take the coveted #1 Shakespeare Dad prize? Stay tuned to find out!
Coffee mug with a quote from one of Shakespeare’s most well-known dads Polonius in “Hamlet.”

I’ll also be sharing some great memes and reviews on Instagram and my podcast tomorrow, then next week I will honor the official start of summer with A Midsummer Night’s Dream!

Shakespeare’s Greatest Mother Characters 

With Mother’s Day coming up, I thought I would take a little time to showcase some of Shakespeare’s great mother characters. Some of these women are models of selflessness, compassion, and devotion to the children they take care of. Other ones… not so much. Just for fun, I also made some suggestions for Mother’s Day gifts if you had one of these mother’s on the list.

The Good Mothers

  1. Countess of Roussilion from Alls Well That Ends WellJudy Dench in All’s We’ll, RSC 2013

Though she is technically not the heroine Helena’s mother, the Countess is still a fantastic example of selflessness, support, and love. As she says “you never oppressed me with a mothers groans but I expressed to you mothers care.” She also encourages her foster daughter Helena to play doctor and save the King Of France from a deadly illness, giving her a job and a bright future!

Mother’s Day Gift: either some French Wine and cheese, or a Doc McStuffins for her future grandchild.

2. Hermione in The Winters Tale

Her husband arrests her for infidelity with no proof at all, while she’s still pregnant! Then she stands up in front of the entire court, having just given birth in prison, just to prove her child is a legitimate heir to the throne. Hermione is a mighty example of grace and courage under fire, as beautiful and strong as the statue she looks like at the end of the play. What more needs to be said!? Winter’s Tale, Richmond Shakespeare Festival, 2010

Mother’s Day Gift: Statue polish

3. Queen Elizabeth in Richard the Third

As you can see in my description, Elizabeth started out as a poor widow trying to get a better future for her children. Then she becomes the queen and takes a lot of crap from lords like Richard for her marriage, and her sons.

As Richard schemes to get the throne, Elizabeth is the only one who sees how dangerous he is, and how he will certainly try to kill her two sons to get it. To protect them from Richard, Elizabeth hides her sons in a church and tries her best to keep him away from them. The only problem is her husband made Richard Lord Protector, and responsible for everything connected to crowning the new king, (terrible judgment on his part).

Once her husband the king dies, Richard proclaims Elizabeth’s sons as bastards and makes himself king. He then has them secretly murdered in the Tower Of London. Even though Elizabeth can’t defend her sons for long, she identified the threat, and did her best to stop him. In this clip from the TV Series “The White Queen,” Elizabeth tries to get her sons released from the Tower, while her brother is oblivious to the danger they are in:

Though Elizabeth fails to protect her sons, she succeeds in saving her daughter. Richard knows that if his enemy Henry Tudor marries Elizabeth’s daughter (who is also named Elizabeth), he can lay claim to the throne and destroy Richard. The wicked king tries therefore, to marry his niece himself! Elizabeth refuses to pimp her daughter to the king and curses him for all of his heinous murders. Click here to see the epic battle of these two great characters in a scene from Ian McKellen’s movie version of Richard III. Look at the power and wit Elizabeth (Annette Benning), displays as she refuses to wed her daughter to Richard, (Ian McKellen).

At the end of the scene, Elizabeth says she will persuade her daughter to marry the king, but she secretly marries the young princess to Henry Tudor, who becomes King Henry the Seventh after defeating Richard in battle. So Elizabeth succeeds in protecting her daughter and helped to start a dynasty of monarchs, including her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth I.

Mothers Day Gift : Sweaters for her sons to wear in the tower.

Alternative Mother’s Day Gift: A baby monitor that works within the Tower Of London, so she won’t have to worry about her kids being slaughtered.

Queen Margaret in King Henry the Sixth Part III. Queen Margaret and Prince Edward from Henry VI, Part II. ASC, 2008

Though her methods are questionable, and her blood thirstiness legendary, Margaret still fights bravely to defend her son’s rightful claim to the English throne.

Video bio of Queen Margaret:

Mother’s Day Gift: A dozen Red roses.

CleopatraThe quintessential queen of Egypt is similar to Margaret in “the ends justify the means” category of mothers. Cleopatra will hook up with any powerful man to protect her son and heir to the throne. Cleopatra’s son, Cesarean is the love child that she had with Julius Caesar. After Caesar’s assassination, Cleopatra seduced Marc Antony, Caesar’s friend and a consul of Rome. Also, according to some historians, Cleo found a way to hide her son after Octavius Caesar tried to kill Cesarean and his mother. She reportedly sent him into hiding through secret tunnels underneath the city of Alexandria.

Mother’s Day Gift: A snake- proof brassiere.

Mediocre Moms

1. Thaisa in Pericles. A lot like her husband Pericles on my OK Dads list, Thaisa’s problem is that, though she clearly loves her children, she doesn’t see them for nearly 20 years. Granted, she doesn’t really know that they’re there they’re still alive but nonetheless, you would think that a good mother would at least check.

2. Constance in King John. I wasn’t sure where to put her on this list, even though she demonstrates great love and affection for her son, (whom King John just murdered), the truth is that Constance doesn’t really do much for her son that we see during the play.

What Constance mainly has going for her is her supremely agonizing expressions of grief over her son’s death. Steven Greenblatt in his book Will in the World, suggests that her speeches might’ve been Shakespeare’s own horror and grief at the loss of his son, who died around the same time King John was supposedly written.

Mother’s Day Gift: barbershop coupon, have you seen that hair, honey?

Also on the ok mom list, Mistress Page in Merry Wives, and Lady Capulet In Romeo and Juliet.

Bad Moms
1. Tamara in Titus Andronicus. She’s called a ravenous tiger in the play, and it’s easy to see why. She encourages her own sons to rape a girl, (Titus’s daughter Lavinia), then murder Lavinia’s husband! As if that wasn’t enough, Tamara tells the boys to cut out Lavinia’s tongue and cut her hands off, so she can’t accuse them of their crimes. Later Tamara tells her lover Aaron to murder their illegitimate baby, so her husband the emperor won’t find out about the affair. Worst of all, Tamara leaves her sons alone with her mortal enemy, Titus which allows Titus to (spoiler alert )…….. kill her sons, chop them up in a pie and serve them to her. She accidentally eats her own sons!

Mothers Day Gift: a parenting book! Or if you’re really sick, a bib with a picture of her kids on it.

2. Dionyza In Pericles- This Queen is a show mom of the worst kind- She’s a Queen from a far off kingdom, tasked with raising her own children and King Pericles’ daughter Mariana. When Dionyza sees that Mariana is a better singer/ dancer/weaver, etc than her own daughter, she tries to kill her!

Mother’s Day Gift:ITonya on DVD,Tanya Harding’s mom and Dionyza should compare notes.

3. Queen in Cymbeline Similar kind of deal. She’s a wicked stepmother who wants to kill the heroine Imogen and make her own son Cloten the heir to the throne. Shakespeare didn’t give her a name, she’s that wicked!

The Queen in Cymbeline, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, 2013

Mother’s Day Gift: A name.

Gertrude in Hamlet This one is very ambiguous. On the one hand, she loves her son, and tries to protect him from his wicked uncle Claudius. On the other hand, she married Claudius less than two months after her first husband died in mysterious circumstances . It’s never revealed in the play whether Gertrude was complicit in the old king’s murder, but when Hamlet Confronts her about the marriage, she is full of remorse.


To be honest, this list was easier to put together than my Fathers Day list, because there are fewer choices. In 9 Of Shakespeare’s plays, there are no mother characters at all:

Love’s Labor’s Lost

Midsummer Night’s Dream

The Comedy Of Errors

Two Gentlemen Of Verona

Measure For Measure

Twelfth Night

The Tempest

As You Like It

Merchant Of Venice

It’s hard to know how much Shakespeare knew about motherhood. From what we know about his life, he probably wasn’t around to see his wife Anne raise his two daughters in Stratford, since he spent most of his time in London writing and acting in his plays.

In any case, the thing that comes across in all the mother’s in Shakespeare’s plays is the level of sacrifice and selflessness that so many mothers demonstrate. Being a parent is tough, but the rewards are greater than even the Bard could ever explain.

Happy Mother’s Day Everyone!

Announcing The Best Fathers In the Shakespearean Cannon

Announcing The Best and Worst Fathers In the Shakespearean Cannon

Podcast Link: 

 Shakespeare himself was a father, and he frequently wrote about the dynamic between fathers and their children. There are many different types of fathers in Shakespeare’s 40 plus plays, and this week I’m ranking them in terms of three categories: Good Dads, Bad Dads, and “Dad Dads.” You’ve probably already read the “Worst Dad” post, so now we’re looking at the good, and the not so good. I used the following criteria when choosing the top 5 dads in each categories:

The Good Dads

  • Are supportive for their kids
  • Try to keep their children happy
  • Offer help and advice, especially on their children’s future.
  • Are willing to sacrifice themselves
  • They let their children become their own people.


The Bad Dads

  • Treat their children as property
  • Have little to no interest in their children
  • Put their children in danger
  • Subject their children to abuse
  • In some cases, they murder them!


The “Dad” Dads

  • Are basically good hearted, but they have some kind of flaw that prevents them from becoming really good parents.
  • In my view, are the most human, modern dads on the list.
  • I’ve chosen to award these dads a necktie, something every ok dad needs.

Now, onto the Dad Dads:

aclkaclk5. Aegean from The Comedy Of Errors. Aegean wonders around for 20 years looking for his lost children, which I call devoted parenting, but a little aimless and undisciplined. I therefore award Aegean two ties with little anchors on them, to remind him to stay in one place and wait for his sons to find him!

Alexandre Bida, "The death of Lord and John Talbott," 1895
Alexandre Bida, “The death of Lord and John Talbott,” 1895

4. Lord Talbott from Henry the Sixth Part I. Talbott is the hero of the English fight against the French at the close of the Hundred Years War. He goes toe to toe with Joan of Arc on numerous occasions. He also raises a fine and valliant son, John Talbott who is also a warrior. The two die bravely in a siege against the French, rather than surrendering, or leaving the other to die. Talbott is clearly also devoted to his child, but his career choice doesn’t allow his son to grow up in a safe environment! I therefore award Talbott two ties with little English and French flags on them.


The Ghost of Hamlet's Father by William Blake, 1806.
The Ghost of Hamlet’s Father by William Blake, 1806.

3. The Ghost Of Hamlet’s Father from Hamlet/ Portia’s Dad from Merchant Of Venice. Both these parents die before their plays begin, yet they still try to improve their children’s lives from beyond the grave! The Ghost helps Hamlet become king of Denmark, and Portia’s dad tries to help her find a good husband, (one who will love her for something besides her beauty or riches). Although these parents achieve their goals, waiting this long to help their kids seems a bit like absentee parenting! I therefore award these posthumous parents ties with little skulls on them.





. King Henry IV, from King Henry IV King Henry is the classic career dad, one who wants his son Hal (the future King Henry V), to follow in his footsteps. The two have a terrible fight when Henry thinks Hal is trying to steal his crown on his deathbed! Eventually though, father and son reconcile, and dad even gives the future king some last minute advice; if you fight a war with France it’ll help secure your crown, which Hal does and succeeds! I therefore award King Henry a tie with little crowns on it, hoping that nobody with a dagger ties tries to steal it when he’s sleeping!

42-44949227-11. Prince Pericles from Pericles Pericles is another busy dad- King Antiocus tries to murder him, and he has to leave his own kingdom. Then he gets shipwrecked 3 times! In fact, his only daughter is born onboard a ship in the middle of a storm! Pericles raises the girl for a number of years, but then has to leave again, and guess what, he gets shipwrecked AGAIN! He eventually finds his daughter and they live happily ever after, but you kind of get the idea that Pericles is a little accident-prone, which keeps him from being on the Best Dads list. Sorry Pericles, but at least you get a tie with, what else, Boats on it! Maybe next Fathers Day, someone will get you a life preserver.


And now at Long LAST, the BEST Dads in Shakespeare!

Aaron fights to protect his baby child.
Aaron fights to protect his baby child.

5. Aaron the Moor from Titus Andronicus. Ironically, one of the worst villains in Shakespeare is also one of the best fathers. Aaron is fiercely protective of his child, even threatening people at sword point if they dare come near his baby. He also plans out the child’s future and is willing to give his own life for a promise that Lucius will protect and nourish his son. He may be a monster to everyone else, but to his baby, Aaron is simply, a good dad!

4. The Old Shepherd from The Winter’s Tale. This character is a very mirror of generosity and kindness; not only does he take care of his son The Clown, he adopts a poor discarded child, the princess Perdita, with no obligation to do so. He raises her for 16 years and constantly brags about her to the entire town. She becomes a beautiful, wise, and modest girl who fills her adopted father with pride because of his good parenting. Even when Perdita meets her real father, she speaks of The Old Shepherd with real filial affection “Oh my poor father.”


Lord Capulet, from Romeo and Juliet. I know this was a controversial choice, and I discuss my choice in detail on my podcast, but I’ll sum up my major arguments here:

  1. Even though a lot of actors choose to have him smack Juliet around, there’s no mention of it in Shakespeare’s text. The most he ever does is threaten to strike her, but the stage directions never indicate he does it. Capulet is clearly more bark than bite.
  2. From the very beginning of the play, Capulet has shown that he cares about Juliet, and wants her to marry for love, not money.
  3. Lord Capulet hovers and frets constantly when Juliet tells him she will marry Paris, staying up late to plan the wedding! I ask you, does that sound like a tyrannical father? I wonder sometimes if Lord Capulet would’ve forgiven Juliet for marrying Romeo if she had just told him. In any case, based on my criteria above, Capulet is a good dad, bad tempered, yes, but fundamentally concerned for the welfare of his children.

BOL143705 Prospero and Miranda, fragment from 'The Tempest', c.1790 (oil on canvas) by Romney, George (1734-1802); © Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, Lancashire, UK; English,  out of copyright
Prospero and Miranda, fragment from ‘The Tempest’, c.1790 (oil on canvas) by Romney, George (1734-1802); ¬© Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, Lancashire, UK; English, out of copyright

3. Prospero from The Tempest I chose this high spot for Prospero mainly because he seems to have the most success of any other dad in the cannon. Like Pericles, he too is shipwrecked with his daughter, but Prospero stays with Miranda, raises her alone, teaches her everything she knows, and calls her an angel that helped preserve his life. Prospero cares so much for his daughter that he refuses to give into despair, even though he’s lost his wife, his dukedom, and his home.

Prospero also hatches a plan to get him and Miranda off the island, to get his dukedom back, and to get her married to a handsome prince name Ferdinand, and he succeeds with every one of these endeavors, even though it takes 12 years. Prospero gets extra points for his patience and his wisdom, but I have to admit he’s a bit of a control freak; he demands that Miranda listen to him and obey him no matter what, and he warns Ferdinand that there will be dire consequences if he dare try to do anything illicit with his daughter before the wedding. In addition, there’s no denying that Prospero is also acting out of self interest- he wants to become duke again, and he wants revenge against his enemies and that’s partially why he raises a tempest, (or a huge storm), instead of just sending a message back to Milan.


Simonides grants permission for Pericles to wed his daughter. Production shot from Mary Zimmerman's 2006 production of "Pericles."
Simonides grants permission for Pericles to wed his daughter. Production shot from Mary Zimmerman’s 2006 production of “Pericles.”

King Simonedes from Pericles, Prince Of Tyre You might forget this character because he only has a short time onstage, but I defy anyone to come up with a better father. He’s kind, supportive, stable, funny, and has a wonderful relationship with his daughter Thaisa. Above all, Simonedes actually listens to his child and does everything in his power to help her when she decides she wants to marry Pericles. Also, like Prospero, Simonedes pretends to object to the marriage, but you kind of get the sense that, rather than testing the affection of the couple, he’s actually just playing a joke on them. You can hear a “gotcha” and a fatherly wink in the final line of the speech in Act II, where he pretends to object to their marriage:

Congratulations to all our fabulous fictional fathers! Thank you for reading, and see you soon!

Top Five WORST Shakespearean Father Characters!

Hello everyone!

Parenting is tough! Parents have to sacrifice so much to make sure their kids grow up happy, healthy, and prepared for life. Not everyone can do it, but if Shakespeare has taught us anything, it’s that there’s always someone doing a worse job than you. So for all you dads out there, enjoy this list of my top 5 worst dads in Shakespeare, lovingly made to remind you that whatever kind of father you are, at least you’re not these baddies!

If you’d like to listen along to my podcat about this topic while you read, here’s the latest episode here:

The Shakespearean Student Episode 4: Top 5 WORST Shakespearean Father Characters

Worst Dads Title:

First and Worst: #1: King Antiocus from Pericles.


#2: Egeus from A Midsummer Night’s Dream


#3: King Leontes from The Winter’s Tale


#4: Titus Andronicus from Titus Andronicus


#5: King Lear from King Lear


Do you agree with my list? Leave me a comment below! Tomorrow I’ll continue my list with the top 5 Dad Dads; guys who are good, but have modern problems that keep them from being truly great. Then we’ll take it home with the best of the best. Hope you enjoy them!

Till Next Time,

-The Shakespeare Guru

Shakespearean Fathers Day Cards

Hi everyone!

In the spirit of Father’s Day, I thought I’d give you some ideas on how to create some Shakespearean Father’s Day Cards for the Shakespeare Nut Dad in your life. If you want to tell your dad how much you care about him, here are some quotes from Shakespeare that might help, arranged in no particular order, with ideas as to who might want to use them:

Part I: Quotes about Fathers from Shakespeare

From multiple kids: “Father, soul and substance of us all” (Titus Andronicus, I,i)

From a daughter: To you your father should be as a god;

One that composed your beauties, yea, and one

To whom you are but as a form in wax

By him imprinted and within his power

To leave the figure or disfigure it. (Midsummer Night’s Dream I.i).

From a Daughter 2: 

Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;

Dearer than eye-sight, space, and liberty;

Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;

No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour;

As much as child e’er loved, or father found;

A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable;

Beyond all manner of so much I love you. (King Lear Act I, Scene i)

From a Daughter 3:

Good my lord,
You have begot me, bred me, loved me: I
Return those duties back as are right fit,
Obey you, love you, and most honour you. (King Lear Act I, Scene i)

From anyone:

Youth, thou bear’st thy father’s face;            

Frank nature, rather curious than in haste,            

Hath well composed thee. Thy father’s moral parts            

Mayst thou inherit too! (All’s Well I, ii)

From Anyone 2:

The king, your father, was reputed for            

A prince most prudent, of an excellent            

And unmatch’d wit and judgment. (Henry VII, Act II, Scene iv).

Short Quotes:

“To his father, that so tenderly and entirely loves him.” (King Lear, I, ii)

“You have show’d a tender fatherly regard.” Taming of the Shrew, Act II, Scene

You can of course, pick your own Shakespearean father quotes for your card, and I have this link to help you out:

My favorite quotes of all, are the ones Hamlet gave in honor of his own father:

“He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again.” (Hamlet, I, ii) 

See, what a grace was seated on this brow;
Hyperion’s curls; the front of Jove himself;
An eye like Mars, to threaten and command;
A station like the herald Mercury
New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill;
A combination and a form indeed,
Where every god did seem to set his seal,

To give the world assurance of a man (Hamlet, III, iv)

Part II: How to find good Shakespearean Cards. If you’ve taken a look at my “Play of the Month” page, you’ll see artwork from Elizabeth Schuch and her website: “Immortal Longings.” She creates some of the best contemporary Shakespearean art I’ve ever seen, and guess, what, they do greeting cards too! If you click this link, you can get some Shakespearean cards for dad before Father’s Day. Then, use one of the quotes above and customize your Father’s Day greeting.

Another option is to make a card yourself! If you want to make it look really Elizabethan, follow the steps below:

1.      Download a parchment JPEG like the one I have posted below. Paste this into Microsoft Word Or Publisher as your Elizabethan parchment paper. If you prefer, you can also buy parchment colored paper in a stationary store or print shop. I get mine at Staples

large image of floral paper canvas or parchment
large image of floral paper canvas or parchment

2.      Download an Elizabethan or medieval border. I can recommend this one from the Medieval Woodcuts Clipart Collection.: Use this to make a nice illuminated border for your card.

3.      Write your message in a neat old fashioned font. I recommend Garamond because it’s the font clerks used most often in Elizabethan printing. You can find it on most editions of Microsoft Word. Just FYI, it’s also the font JK Rowling used in the last Harry Potter book! You can also use Old English or Lucinda Blackletter.

So enjoy your Shakespearean Father’s Day cards and check back tomorrow for more fun on The Shakespearean Student!

Announcing Father’s Day Week on Shakespearean Student!

Hello everyone!

Thanks for liking and commenting on my last few posts. I feel this website is starting to hit its stride and I have all of you to thank! This week, because Father’s Day is coming up (June 21st), I’m devoting an entire week to posts and podcasts related to fathers. Here’s a sample of some of the topics I’ll be covering:

  1. Shakespearean Father’s Day Cards: Find some nice Shakespearean sentiment to show your Shakespearean dad how much you care.
  2. Bios of William Shakespeare and John Shakespeare Both Shakespeare and his father had children, and both worked hard to make a better life for their offspring, so I thought I’d tell you some of their life stories so you can learn more about these great men.
  3. My Picks For Top 5 Best and Worst Dads in Shakespeare I’ve gone through the entire cannon from As You Like It to Alls Well That Ends Well, and picked out the dads whom I think deserve recognition either as great or terrible parents. Who will take the coveted #1 Shakespeare Dad prize? Stay tuned to find out!

Join me for all the fun this week, and also check out my podcast!