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Shakespeare on Gratitude

Gratitude advice from William Shakespeare

Tales from Shakespeare

Romeo, after the fray, had taken refuge in friar Lawrence’s cell, where he was first made acquainted with the prince’s sentence, which seemed to him far more terrible than death. To him it appeard there was no world out of Verona’s walls, no living out of the sight of Juliet. Heaven was there where Juliet lived, and all beyond was purgatory, torture, and hell. The good friar would have applied the consolation of philosophy to his griefs: but this frantic young man would hear of none, but like a madman he tore his hair, and threw himself all along upon the ground, as he said, to take the measure of his grave. From this unseemly state he was roused by a message from his dear lady, which a little revived him; and then the friar took the advantage to expostualte with him on the unmanly weakness which he had shown. He had slain Tybalt, but would he also slay himself, slay his dear lady, who lived but in his life? The noble form of man, he said, was but a shape of wax, when it wanted the courage which should keep it firm. The law had been lenient to him, that instead of death, which he had incurred, had pronounced by the prince’s mouth only banishment. He had slain Tybalt, but Tybalt would have slain him: there was a sort of happiness in that. Juliet was alive, and (beyond all hope) had become his dear wife: therein he was most happy.  All these blessings, as the friar made them out to be, did Romeo put from him lie a sullen misbehaved wench.  And the friar bade him beware, for such as despaired, (he said) died miserable.

 – Charles and Mary Lamb

“Romeo and Juliet”

Tales from Shakespeare


  1. Shakespeare intrigues me on so many levels, and his portrayal of humanity is certainly superb! My family watched Ben Hur a couple of weekends ago. When the Roman Captain tried to grab his knife to take his own life, after being one of the only ones to escape a sea battle, none of us were really surprised. Having read and watched Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra several times we were already familiar with this “Roman way” of dealing with dishonor or discouragement. And in Romeo and Juliet we see that repeatedly, first with Romeo’s actions in this scene, and then both his and Juliet’s actions in the final scene.

    It is a good reminder to us that our hope has to be in Christ, not these outward circumstances! I’m glad those around us who are dealing with the aftermath of last week’s terrible tornadoes were not schooled in the “Roman way” of dealing with despair! Most of them are picking up the pieces of their lives that are left, and looking to God in gratitude for what they still have, not despair over what they have lost.


  2. Shanda says

    This quote reminded me of this verse: I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Ps. 27:13
    Powerful quote here…esp. that last line!


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