When it comes to repartee between supervillains and their adversaries, essentially no writer other than William Shakespeare is worth spending significant time to know anything about. This one dramatist has nearly cornered the market on memorable quotes to be delivered in the context of a desperate fight or in a missive threatening violent consequences to befall your foe, to the point where any sufficiently obscure utterance during a showy and vile operation is likely to be mistaken for his work, even if the reference is actually to some opaque minstrel sort out of Hibbing instead.
Even the most avid Shakespearean malefactor, however, must work hard to prepare the portentous moment, almost always without benefit of dress rehearsal, teleprompter, or retakes. Here are a few pointers to help focus the artistic intellect on the essentials designed to provide the greatest amount of success for the effort.
- Quote selection. Unencumbered by the need to build an empire devoted to destruction and ruin, Shakespeare was a prolific writer for his time, with hundreds of memorable passages touching on dozens of subjects. Instead of wasting time poring over this unwieldy corpus, use Google to sort through the mass by keyword.
- Memorization. As with so many supervillain talents, the key to domination is obsessive practice. The best results come from delivering your lines in the presence of a coach who can give you useful criticism, perhaps under a certain amount of prodding on your part. Use external storage means if you cannot trust your own memory — crib sheets, flash memory, or letters of living flame.
- Context. Besides the words themselves, you must spend a good deal of time setting the scene in which they will be uttered, because simply blurting out your line is likely to be unsatisfying. Make an effort to match to the quote to the situation. Examples: Entering the slave pits: O, wonder!/How many goodly creatures are there here! Crushing your enemy beneath a granite millstone: Now cracks a noble hear Fleeing a battle: Parting is such sweet sorrow. Freshening up after a torture session: Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood/Clean away from my hand?
- Delivery. Your tone of voice should be authoritative and distinctive. It should say "this is the greatest poet and dramatist humanity has ever produced!" These days, it is no longer considered to be cheating when one uses a microphone to amplify one's voice to be heard easily by the individuals you are seeking to impress.
Strokes of genius
- Speak clearly. There is nothing worse than spending hours or days memorizing a bit of wisdom for the ages, speaking the lines of the Bard at the appropriate moment, only to have the words mistaken by your listeners for a bit of inconsequential muttering or perhaps an off-color remark. Bear well in mind Hamlet's advice to speak the speech "trippingly on the tongue."
- Artistic license. In a pinch, if you are caught unawares, for instance, feel free to make up your own quotes to suit the occasion, attributing them to one of the lesser known works by Shakespeare. No one can reasonably be expected to have read all of his work, least of all a busy supervillain or superhero. The other advantage you have is that you are likely to get the fabrication off in a setting where people will be too busy or too distraught to fact check your utterance.
- Consolation. Millions through the centuries have discovered that when one experiences a professional or personal setback, poetry can be sweet solace. Perhaps you are on the lam from a scheme gone horribly wrong, or rotting in some vile dungeon without even an enemy for company, or you could be pursued by unstoppable alligator-bats from the planet Zebulonia. If you have taken the precaution of memorizing a rueful line or two, or perhaps a wistful sonnet, you can take some comfort in knowing that your sensitive soul is in a small way able to resonate with one of the great ones of all time.
Traps for mere fools
- Bad reviews. Remember that your critics may be working on their own agenda.
- Distracting from your main message. Check the quote against your mission statement. There is a potential for self-parody, too.
- Fan frenzy. If you succeed too well with well-placed gibes during your
Precious and needful
- Complete First Folio edition of the plays. It is essential to have the text in a place easy to refer to in the comfort of one's study. It is not essential to bring these books out on a mission, however, where they can be exposed to peril or be left behind.
- Book of the Sonnets. Most fiends prefer an edition bound in leather made of some skin that the squeamish ought not inspect too closely.
- Portable footlights.
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- Image credit Shakespeare Bust Redux by scot2342
- Image credit Hamlet - oh Hamlet by h.koppdelaney
- Image credit Hamlet or ham by Ryan Wolf
Created by: . Last Modification: Wednesday 11 of August, 2010 15:08:39 EDT by GrinningSkull.