Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 30-34

BERNARDO:                                   Sit down awhile, And let us once again assail your ears That are so fortified against our story What we have two nights seen. HORATIO:                               Well, sit we down, And let us hear Bernardo speak of this. The two words most likely to confuse modern audiences are “assail” and “fortified,” are also the first…

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Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Line 29

HORATIO: Tush, tush, ’twill not appear. Lacking a time machine, there’s no way for us to determine the original pronunciation of Horatio’s contemptuous non-verbal reply, “tush.” It’s clearly an analogue of our modern “tsk,” and if you drop out the “u” altogether, it even makes a similar sound. The safest pronunciation is probably with a…

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Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 25-28

MARCELLUS: Therefore I have entreated him along With us to watch the minutes of this night; That if again this apparition come, He may approve our eyes and speak to it. There are lots of textual details to explore here — the presence or absence of a comma after “With us,” for instance, which could…

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Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 19-21

BARNARDO: Welcome, Horatio: welcome, good Marcellus. MARCELLUS:What, has this thing appear’d again tonight? BARNARDO: I have seen nothing. Here, we get our first real scholarly (and producerly) crux. Line 20 — the one where Shakespeare uses “thing” as the ultimate deferral of exposition — is attributed to Marcellus in the First Quarto and the First…

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Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 17-18

MARCELLUS: Holla! Bernardo! BARNARDO: Say, what, is Horatio there? HORATIO:                                                  A piece of him. This terse exchange serves as a real introduction to Horatio, distinguishing him instantly from the soldiers — who are, let’s face it, fairly flat and interchangeable characters. His acerbic reply falls into the “ask a stupid question” category, since Barnardo was,…

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Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 14-16

FRANCISCO: Give you good night. MARCELLUS:O, farewell, honest soldier; who hath relieved you? FRANCISCO: Bernardo has my place. Give you good night.  Exit. Nothing very spectacular here. Shakespeare is revving up his Revolving Door, the staging technique that kept his big, bare stage feeling busy and populated. Two characters just entered, so it’s time for…

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Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 12-13

Enter HORATIO and MARCELLUS. FRANCISCO: I think I hear them. Stand, ho! Who is there? HORATIO: Friends to this ground. MARCELLUS:                                  And liegemen to the Dane. A moment ago, Barnardo supplied the audience with two new names, and speak of the devil, they appear — either a split second before Francisco hears them, or else…

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Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 9-11

BARNARDO: Well, goodnight. If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus, The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste. Barnardo wraps up a very modern-feeling exchange with Francisco by offering the most modern of all farewells: “goodnight,” a phrase so understated in this heavily fraught context that it might almost draw a laugh from the…

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