Shakespeare in Love

Directed by John Madden,
Screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard

Scene 1: Love and Poetry [scene runs from 13:52 to 15:52. For those with DVDs, it runs from the beginning of ch. 6.]

Viola De Lessups has just witnessed Shakespeare's new play, Two Gentlemen of Verona, when it was performed before the Queen. She discusses her enthusiasm for the theater with her nurse.

Nurse: Did you like Proteus or Valentine best?

Viola: Proteus for speaking. Valentine for looks.

Nurse: Oh, I liked the dog for laughs.

Viola: Sylvia I did not care for much His fingers were red from fighting and he spoke like a schoolboy at lessons. Stage love will never be true love while the law of the land has our heroines being played by pipsqueak boys in petticoats. Oh, when can we see another?

Nurse: When the Queen commands it.

Viola: No, but at the playhouse, nurse?

Nurse: Be still. Playhouses are not for well-born ladies.

Viola: Oh, I am not so well-born.

Nurse: Well-monied is the same as well-born and well-married is more so. Lord Wessex was looking at you tonight.

Viola: All the men at Court are without poetry. If they see me they see my father's fortune. I will have poetry in my life. And adventure. And love, love above all.

Nurse: Like Valentine and Sylvia?

Viola: No, not the artful postures of love, but love that overthrows life. Unbiddable, ungovernable, like a riot in the heart and nothing to be done, come ruin or rapture. Love that there has never been in a play. I will have love or I will end my days as a --

Nurse: As a nurse.

Viola: But I would be Valentine and Sylvia too. Good nurse, God save you and good night, kissing her. I would stay asleep my whole life if I could dream myself into a company of players.

Nurse: Clean your teeth while you dream then. Now spit.

Scene 2: Love and Marriage [scene runs from 27:16 to 28:27. For those with DVDs, it begins half a minute into ch. 10.]

Will has pursued his new actor, Thomas Kent (who is Viola disguised as a man) to the De Lessups estate. He arrives in time for a banquet, and takes his place among the musicians. In this scene, Lord Wessex negotiates with Sir Robert De Lessups, Viola's father, for her hand in marriage.

Will: I seek Master Thomas Kent.

Waiter: To Will, as he grabs a snack off his tray: Musicians don't eat. Sir Robert's orders.

Camera shifts to Sir Robert and Wessex
Sir Robert: She is a beauty, my lord. As would take a king to church for the dowry of a nutmeg.

Wessex: My plantations in Virginia are not mortgaged for a nutmeg. I have an ancient name which will bring you preferment when your grandson is a Wessex. Is she fertile?

Sir Robert: She will breed. If she does not, send her back.

Wessex: Is she obedient?

Sir Robert: As any mule in Christendom. But, if you are the man to ride her, there are rubies in the saddlebag.

Wessex: I like her.

Will sees Viola, and is as struck by her as Romeo will be by Juliet in the play that Will has not yet written.

Will: By all the stars in heaven, who is she?

Musician: Viola De Lessups. Dream on Will.

Scene 3: Poeticized Love [scene runs from 42:11 to 46:33. For those with DVDs, it begins fifteen seconds into ch. 13 and ends one minute into ch. 14.]

Will joins Thomas Kent in a boat on his way to the De Lessups estate. Thomas is acting as a go-between for Will and Viola.

Will: Did you give her my letter?

Thomas/Viola: And this is for you, holding up another letter.

Will: He gets in Thomas's boat, takes the letter and reads it. Oh Thomas, she has cut my strings. I am unmanned, unmended and unmade. Like a puppet in a box.

Boatman: A writer, is he?

Will: Row your boat!
turning back to Thomas/Viola: She tells me to keep away. She is to marry Lord Wessex. What should I do?

Thomas/Viola: If you love her, you must do as she asks.

Will: And break her heart and mine?

Thomas/Viola: It is only yours you can know.

Will: She loves me, Thomas.

Thomas/Viola: Does she say so?

Will: No. And yet she does where the ink is run with tears.

Thomas/Viola: Her letter came to me by the Nurse.

Will: Your aunt?

Thomas/Viola: Yes, my aunt. Perhaps she wept a little. Tell me how you love her, Will.

Will: Like a sickness and its cure together.

Viola: Oh, yes. Like rain and sun, like cold and heat.
Is your lady beautiful? Since I came here from the country I have not seen her close. Tell me, is she beautiful?

Will: Thomas, if I could write with the beauty of her eyes. I was born to look in them and know myself. He looks into Thomas's eyes.

Thomas/Viola: And her lips?

Will: Her lips, the early morning rose would whither on the branch if it could feel envy.

Thomas/Viola: And her voice, like lark song?

Will: Deeper, softer. None of your twittering notes. I would banish nightingales from my garden before they interrupt her song.

Thomas/Viola: She sings too?

Will: Constantly. Without doubt. And plays the lute. She has a natural ear. And her bosom. Did I mention her bosom?

Thomas/Viola: What of her bosom?

Will: Oh Thomas, a pair of pippins as round and rare as a pair of golden apples.

Thomas/Viola: I think milady is wise to keep your love at a distance. For what lady could live up to it close to, when her eyes and lips and voice may be no more beautiful than mine? Besides, can a lady of wealth and noble marriage love happily with a bankside poet and player?

Will: Yes, by God. Love knows nothing of rank or riverbank. It will spark between a Queen and the poor vagabond who plays the king. And their love should be mined by each. For love denied blights the soul we owe to God. So tell my lady William Shakespeare waits for her in the garden.

Thomas/Viola: But what of Lord Wessex?

Will: For one kiss I would defy a thousand Wessexes.

Thomas/Viola: kissing him, Oh Will.
She throws the boatman a coin, and runs away. Will looks confused.

Boatman: Thank you, my lady.

Will: Lady?

Boatman: Viola De Lessups. Known her since she was this high. Wouldn't deceive a child.

Will gets out of boat, and boatman reaches for a manuscript.

Strangely enough, I'm a bit of a writer myself. It wouldn't take you long to read it. I expect you know all the booksellers.

Will follows after her, climbs onto the balcony to her bedroom, and enters
Will: Can you love a fool?

Viola: Can you love a player?

They embrace.
Will: Wait. You're still a maid. And perhaps are as mistook in me as I was mistook in Thomas Kent.

Viola: Answer me only this: Are you the author of the plays of William Shakespeare?

Will: I am.

Viola: Then kiss me again for I am not mistook.

Scene 4: Can a Play Show the Very Truth and Nature of Love? [scene runs from 1:01:40 to 1:04:07. For those with DVDs, it begins a minute and a half into ch. 17.]

[Lord Wessex takes Viola to meet Queen Elizabeth, who must give her consent to the marraige of a Wessex. Will accompanies them, disguised as Viola's "country cousin."]
Viola: Your majesty.

Queen: Stand up straight, girl.
I've seen you. You are the one who comes to all the plays at Whitehall at Richmond.

Viola: Your majesty.

Queen: What do you love so much?

Viola: Your majesty

Queen: Speak up, girl, I know who I am. Do you love stories of kings and queens? Feats of arms? Or is it courtly love?

Viola: I love theater. To have stories acted for me by a company of fellows in indeed

Queen: interrupting: They're not acted for you, they're acted for me.


Viola: And I love poetry above all.

Queen: Above Lord Wessex? (Courtiers laugh.) Speaking to Wessex, who stands at Viola's side: My lord when you cannot find your wife you better look for her at the playhouse. Playwrights teach us nothing about love. They make it pretty; they make it comical; or they make it lust. They cannot make it true.

Viola: Oh, but they can Courtiers gasp. I mean, Your Majesty, they do not, they have not, but I believe there is one who can.

Wessex: My Lady Viola is young in the world. Your majesty is wise in it. Nature and truth are the very enemies of playacting. I'll wager my fortune.

Queen: I thought you were here because you have none. Courtiers laugh. Well no one will take your wager, it seems.

Will: 50 pounds.

Many seem shocked, but the Queen seems amused.
Queen: 50 pounds? A very worthy sum on a very worthy question. Can a play show us the very truth and nature of love? I bear witness to the wager, and will be the judge of it as occasion arises. Applause. I've seen nothing to settle it yet.
Are there no more fireworks? They'll be soothing after the excitements of Lady Viola's audience.

whispers to Lord Wessex as she passes him: Have her then, but you are a lordly fool. She has been plucked since I saw her last, and not by you. It takes a woman to know it.

Scene 5: Love Beyond Poetry [scene runs from 1:15:00 to 1:16:45. For those with DVDs, it begins ch. 21.]

Viola has discovered that Will is married. The playwright Christopher Marlowe has been killed, and Viola had mistakenly believed that the murdered poet was Will. In this scene, Will lies in a meadow, speaking to Viola, who is at his side.

Will: Marlowe's touch was in my Titus Andronicus and my Henry VI was a house built on his foundations.

Viola: You never spoke so well of him.

Will: He was not dead before. I would exchange all my plays to come for all of his that will never come.

Viola: You lie. You lie in your meadow as you lied in my bed.

Will: My love is no lie. I have a wife, yes, and I cannot marry the daughter of Sir Robert De Lesseps. It needed no wife come from Stratford to tell you that. And yet you let me come to your bed.

Viola: Calf love. I loved the writer, and gave up the prize for a sonnet.

Will: I was the more deceived.

Viola: Yes, you were deceived, because I did not know how much I loved you. I loved you Will, beyond poetry.

Will: Oh, my love. They kiss. You ran from me before.

Viola: When I thought you dead I did not care about all the plays that would never come, only that I would never see your face. I saw our end. It will come.

Will: You cannot marry Wessex.

Viola: If not you, why not Wessex? If not Wessex, the Queen will know the cause and there will be no more Will Shakespeare. They kiss. I will go to Wessex as a widow from these vows, as solemn as they are unsanctified.

Scene 6: The Play [scene runs from 1:36:25 to 1:47:12. For those with DVDs it begins twenty seconds into ch. 26].

As Thomas/Viola and the other players practice Romeo and Juliet for a performance at the Rose Theater, Tilney, the Queen's Master of Revels, is informed that a woman is preparing to act on stage, in violation of the law. Tilney closes down the theater, but rival theater owner Richard Burbage offers him his theater, and the play goes on, with Will himself replacing Thomas/Viola in the role of Romeo. In the meantime, Viola has married Wessex, but escapes into the theater for the opening production of Shakespeare's play. When the boy playing Juliet, Sam, loses his boyish voice, it looks, again, as if the play will not go on. Henslowe, the producer, informs Burbage, who sits in the audience waiting for the play to start, of the latest disaster.

Henslowe: to Burbage: Can we talk? We have no Juliet.

Burbage: No Juliet?!

Viola: as she overhears: No Juliet?!

Henslowe: It will be all right, madam.

Viola: What happened to Sam?

Henslowe: Who are you?

Viola: Thomas Kent.

Henslowe: Do you know it?

Viola: Every word.

Camera cuts to Lord Wessex riding hurriedly toward the theater; then to the stage, where Romeo and Juliet is being performed.

Player (as Lady Capulet): Nurse, where is my daughter? Call her forth.

Player (as Nurse): Now, by my maidenhead at 12 years old, I bade her come. What lady bird.

Player (as Lady Capulet): Where's the girl?

Wessex arrives at the theater in search of his wife.

Player (as Nurse) What, lamb! What, lady bird! What, Juliet?

Viola (as Juliet): How now? Who calls?

Audience gasps when they see Viola appear as Juliet. Wessex looks on, but hesitates to intervene, and watches with the rest of the audience.

behind stage
Burbage: We'll all be put in the clink.

Henslowe: See you in jail.

Player (as Nurse): Your mother.

Viola (as Juliet): Madam, I am here. What is your will?

Player (as Lady Capulet): This is the matter -- Nurse, give leave a while, We must talk in secret.
Nurse, come back again;
I have remembered me, thou must hear our counsel.
Thou knowest my daughter's of a pretty age.

Player (as Nurse): Faith, I know her age within an hour. She is not fourteen.
I'll lay 14 of my teeth. And yet my teen be it spoken, I have but 4.

Player (as Lady Capulet): Tell me daughter Juliet, how stands your disposition to be married?

Viola (as Juliet): It is an honor that I dream not of.

Film skips ahead in the action of the play. Group engage in sword fight on stage.

Player (as Mercutio): I am sped.

Will (as Romeo): Courage, man. The hurt cannot be much.

Player (as Mercutio): Ask for me tomorrow, you should find me a grave man.Dies.

Soldiers are marching through the streets of London, toward the theater.

Romeo and Tybalt fight on stage.

Player (as Apothecary): practicing behind stage "Such mortal drugs I have but Mantua's law is death to any he that utters them." Then him. Then me.

On stage, Romeo stabs Tybalt.
Player (as Benvolio): Romeo, away, be gone!
The Citizens are up, and Tybalt slain.
Stand not amazed. The Prince will doom thee death
If thou are taken. Hence, be gone. Away!

Will (as Romeo): Oh, I am fortune's fool.

Player (as Benvolio): Why does thou stay? Romeo exits.

Will: to Viola, behind stage: Oh I am fortune's fool. You're married? If you be married, my grave is like to be my wedding bed. They embrace.

Viola (as Juliet): as they move back onto stage together:
Are thou gone so, love-lord, ay, husband, friend? I must
hear from thee every day in the hour,
For in a minute there are many days.
Oh, by this count I shall be much in years,
Ere again I behold my Romeo.

Will (as Romeo): Farewell.

Viola (as Juliet): O, thinks thou we shall ever meet again?
Methinks I see thee, now thou art so low,
As one dead in the bottom of a tomb.
Either my eyesight fails, or thou lookst pale.

Will (as Romeo): Trust me, love, in my eyes so do you.
Dry sorrow drinks our blood. Adieu, adieu! Exits

Player (as Friar): to Juliet: Take thou this vile, being then in bed.
And this distilling liquor, drink thou oft;
No warmth, no breath shall testify thou livest;
And in this borrowed likeness of shrunk death
Thou shalt continue two and forty hours.
And then awake as from a present sleep.

Will (as Romeo): What ho! Apothecary. Come hither, man.
I see that thou art poor. There is forty ducats.
Let me have a dram of poison.

Player (as Apothecary): Such mortal drugs I have; but Mantua's law
Is death to any he that utters them.
My poverty but not my will consents.

Will (as Romeo): I pay thy poverty and not thy will.

Camera cuts to Tilney and his soldiers, who are nearing the theater.

Romeo discovers Juliet, apparently dead, lying on top of her tomb, in the family vault.

Will (as Romeo): Eyes look your last!
Arms, take your last embrace! And Lips, oh you,
The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss
A dateless bargain to engrossing death!
Come bitter conduct; come unsavory guide!

Our desperate pilot, now at once run on
The dashing rocks thy sea-sick weary bark. He embraces her.
Here's to my love! Drinks. Oh true apothecary!
Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die. Dies.

Viola (as Juliet): awaking Where is my lord?
I do remember well where I should be,
And there I am. Where is my Romeo?

Nurse: from the audience: Dead!

Viola (as Juliet): What's this, A cup closed in my true love's hand?
Poison, I see, has been his timeless end.
Oh happy dagger! Takes Romeo's dagger. This is thy sheath.
There rust and let me die. Dies.

Player (as Prince): A glooming peace this morning with it brings.
The sun for sorrow will not show his head.
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;
Some shall be pardoned and some punished;
For never was a story of more woe
Than this Juliet and her Romeo.

Silence, then enthusiastic applause.

Scene 7: The Encore. [scene runs from 1:47:13 to 1:51:56. For those with DVDs, it begins a minute and a half into ch. 28.]

Enter Mr. Tilney (the Master of the Revels) and Soldiers.

Tilney: I arrest you in the name of Queen Elizabeth.

Burbage: coming up on stage: Arrest who, Mr. Tilney?

Tilney: Everyone, admiral's men, Chamberlain's men. And everyone of you ne'er-do-wells. That stand in contempt of the authority vested in my by Her Majesty.

Burbage: Contempt? You closed the Rose; I have not opened it.

Tilney: pointing to Viola: That woman is a woman.

Player: What? A woman? You mean that goat?

Tilney: I'll see you all in the clink, in the name of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth.

Queen: throwing off her cloak and coming out of the audience onto stage: Mr. Tilney. Have a care with my name; you will wear it out. The Queen of England does not attend exhibitions of public lewdness. So something is out of joint. Come here, Master Kent. Let me have a look at you.

Thomas/Viola begins to curtsey, catches herself, and bows.

Yes the illusion is remarkable, and your error, Mr. Tilney, is easily forgiven. I know something of a woman in a man's profession. Yes, by God, I do know about that. That is enough from you, Master Kent.

If only Lord Wessex were here.

The boy who informed Tilney of Viola's presence among the players speaks up again.
Boy: He is, ma'am.

Wessex: rising: Your Majesty.

Queen: There was a wager I remember as to whether a play can show the very truth and nature of love. I think you lost it today.

Queen: to the boy: You are an eager boy. Did you like the play?

Boy: I liked it when she stabbed herself your majesty.

Queen: Master Shakespeare. Will goes forward and bows. Next time you come to Greenwich come as yourself and we will speak some more.

Queen leaves the theater, Wessex runs ahead, to speak with her.

Wessex: Your Majesty.

Queen: Why, Lord Wessex. Lost your wife so soon?

Wessex: Indeed, I am a bride short and my ship sails for the new world on the evening tide. How is this to end?

Queen: As stories must when love is denied, with tears and a journey. Those whom God has joined in marriage, not even I can put asunder. Master Kent. Thomas/Viola comes forward and bows. Lord Wessex, as I foretold has lost his wife in the playhouse. Go make your farewell and send her out. It's time to settle accounts. How much is that wager?

Wessex: 50 Shillings. Queen stares at him. Pounds.

Queen: Give it to Master Kent. He will see it rightfully home. Tell Master Shakespeare something more cheerful next time, for twelfth night.

The Queen encounters a puddle of water as she makes her way to her carriage. She hesitates, and then walks through it, as several courtiers throw their cloaks over the puddle.

Too late. Too late.

Shakespeare in Love Questions

Guide to unit 6

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