Most recognized for his amorous impact on the romance genre, Shakespeare’s contributions to Horror largely go unlauded and unappreciated. References to Ghosts, astrology, Witches, presages, Goblins, and a slew of other mythological characters are found woven throughout his 37 plays. In time for Halloween, here’s a handpicked selection of some of his more morbid quotes to sate any Horror fans grotesque addiction.
Hamlet – (Hamlet, s1, a4) “Angels, and ministers of grace, defend us! Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn’d. Bring with thee airs from heaven, or blasts from hell. Be thy intents wicked or charitable. Thou com’st in such a questionable shape, That I will speak to thee. “ – In utter amazement, Hamlet addresses the ghost of his late father, the king of Denmark, by offering the otherworldly illusion his full attention early in the play.
Ariel (The Tempest a1,s2) – “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” – The spirit Ariel quotes a scion’s frenzied remark after his ship was set afire by Prospero’s phantasmic minion.
The Three Witches (Macbeth a4,s1) – ”Double, double toil and trouble, Fire burn, and cauldron bubble. Fillet of a fenny snake, In the cauldron boil and bake. Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing, For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble. Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf, Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf of the ravined salt-sea shark, Root of hemlock digged i’ th’ dark, Liver of blaspheming Jew, Gall of goat and slips of yew Slivered in the moon’s eclipse,Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips, Finger of birth-strangled babe Ditch-delivered by a drab, Make the gruel thick and slab. Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron, For the ingredients of our cauldron. Double, double toil and trouble, Fire burn and cauldron bubble. Cool it with a baboon’s blood, then the charm is firm and good.” – In Macbeth, Shakespeare typified (or perhaps originated) the customs and characteristics of your classic Witch infused in popular culture.Their wicked charms were the main catalyst to inspire the warrior Macbeth to commit the bloody treachery that deposed the king of Scotland’s throne.
Macduff (Macbeth, a2, s1) “Approach the chamber, and destroy your sight With a new Gorgon. Do not bid me speak. See, and then speak yourselves.” – Horrified, the king’s servant screams his aghast reaction upon discovering the bloody homicide.
Hamlet (Hamlet a3, s2) “’Tis now the very witching time of night, When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out Contagion to this world. Now could I drink hot blood And do such bitter business as the bitter day Would quake to look on.” – Hamlet’s commentary on the eerie ambiance of night.
Romeo (Romeo & Juliet a5, s3) “Ah, dear Juliet, Why art thou yet so fair? Shall I believe That unsubstantial death is amorous, And that the lean abhorrèd monster keeps Thee here in dark to be his paramour? For fear of that, I still will stay with thee, And never from this palace of dim night Depart again. Here, here will I remain With worms that are thy chamber maids. Oh, here Will I set up my everlasting rest, And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars From this world-wearied flesh. Eyes, look your last. Arms, take your last embrace. And, lips, O you The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss A dateless bargain to engrossing death.” – Moments before he imbibes a vial of poison, Romeo’s expresses his devout love for Juliet. Even in death, he pledges his dedication to be faithful.
Juliet (Romeo & Juliet a4,s1) “O, bid me leap, rather than marry Paris, From off the battlements of yonder tower; Or walk in thievish ways; or bid me lurk Where serpents are; chain me with roaring bears; Or shut me nightly in a charnel house, O’ercovered quite with dead men’s rattling bones, With reeky shanks and yellow chapless skulls; Or bid me go into a new-made grave And hide me with a dead man in his shroud—Things that, to hear them told, have made me tremble—And I will do it without fear or doubt, To live an unstained wife to my sweet love.” – A desperate Juliet whines to the friar about finding a solution to avoid her arranged marriage to count Paris.
Macbeth (Macbeth a2, s2) “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red.” – After murdering the king of Scotland, Macbeth wallows in guilt and paranoia with his hands still stained in blood.
(King Lear a1,s2) “These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us.” – Astrological omens of the bible were used by Shakespeare again and again.
(Richard II A3,s2) – “Woe, destruction, ruin, and decay; The worst is death, and death will have his day.” – If there’s a profound theme in Shakespeare’s dramas, it’s that Life, Love, and Death are all accompanied by an ineluctable anguish,
*Listed in no particular ranking*