Monday, January 24, 2011

The Most Famous (or Infamous) Misquotation of Shakespeare

The Maltese Falcon. Dir. John Huston. Perf. Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, and Peter Lorre. 1941. DVD. Turner Home, 2009.
The last line of The Maltese Falcon is frequently cited as a misquotation of a line from Shakespeare. Sam Spade, the Humphrey Bogart character, says, "The . . . uh . . . stuff that dreams are made of."

The actual quote, spoken by Prospero in The Tempest, alters in only two respects:
. . . . . . . . . . . . We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep. (IV.i.156-58)
Here's the line spoken by the inimitable Humphrey Bogart. The delivery is so marvelous that we overlook the altered preposition and the substitution of "that" for "as":

video

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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2 comments:

Duane said...

Google hits for "stuff that dreams are made of" : 1.9 million

Google hits for "stuff as dreams are made on" : 1.0 million


:(

kj said...

Apparently, the line "stuff as dreams are made on" pleased not the 1.9 million. ’Twas caviare to the general.

kj

Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest