THE CHARACTERS OF SHAKESPEARE
by Max Beerbohm There once was a king named Macbeth, A better king never drew breath; The faults of his life Were all due to his wife, The notorious Lady Macbeth. No doubt you have heard of Othello, An African sort of a fellow. When they said, 'You are black!' He cried, 'Take it back! I am only an exquisite yellow'. I cannot help feeling that Lear At the end of his splendid career, When he strolled in the teeth Of that storm on that heath, Was, well, just a little bit 'queer'. Hamlet, I'm sorry to find, Was unable to make up his mind; He shillied, he shallied, He dillied, he dallied, In fact, he was over-refined. Then Cymbeline. How about Cymbeline? You could hold in a cup, in a thimble, e'en, All that is not Sheer downright rot In Shakespeare's presentment of Cymbeline. The doings of Coriolanus Shall not for one moment detain us. It's clear that we can't And we won't and we shan't Be bothered with Coriolanus. Hats off, however, to Romeo, One o' the Montagues, don't-you-know; And we mustn't forget That dear little pet Of the Capulet set, Juliet, Who asked him why he was Romeo? The other Shakespearean characters Are deadly damned dullards and dodderers? I would warn you to shun Every one Of the other Shakespearean characters.
The end