Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Shakespeare at the Grocery Store

Shakespeare, William. King John. Ed. E. A. J. Honigmann. London: Arden Shakespeare, 1981.
While walking through aisle 2B in my local grocery store (Was it 2B? I can't remember), I looked up and spotted the Shakespeare quote pictured above:
"My life, my joy, my food . . . " william shakespeare
I'll be quite honest. I didn't recognize the quotation—until I looked it up—and when I did, I began to wonder about its appropriateness (even though it's not from Titus Andronicus).

The quote comes from King John. Constance, the mother of Arthur, delivers these incredibly sad and moving lines after his death:
Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form;
Then, have I reason to be fond of grief?
Fare you well: had you such a loss as I,
I could give better comfort than you do.
I will not keep this form upon my head,
When there is such disorder in my wit.
O Lord! my boy, my Arthur, my fair son!
My life, my joy, my food, my all the world!
My widow-comfort, and my sorrows' cure! (III.iv.93-105)
I'm all for incorporating Shakespeare into all aspects of life—even grocery shopping—but the context of the speech is radically different from the store's use of the quote. Constance is bemoaning the fact that her very life, her spirit's joy, her soul's food is gone forever.

On the other hand, the quotation lists things that are important ingredients (sorry—an inadvertent pun, I assure you) to a happy life—while suggesting that the product the store sells is the life and the joy the quote speaks about.

Do you all have any thoughts on the subject or other examples of Shakespeare out of context?


CGriff said...

Shoe Woo (a fancy shoe-store at Union Station in DC - and elsewhere, I'm sure) has this quote in large bold purple and pink letters on mirrors at the door:

"She's beautiful and therefore to be Woo'd"

It sounds eerily like Demetrius in Titus:
She is a woman, therefore may be woo'd;
She is a woman, therefore may be won;
She is Lavinia, therefore must be loved.

But it's from Henry IV part 1 spoken by Suffolk:
She's beautiful, and therefore to be woo'd;
She is a woman, therefore to be won.

Either way, I've always found it strange and a little disconcerting. Plus their shoes are overpriced.

CGriff said...

ALSO, Le Bon Cafe, a nearby lunchery, has this quote on their take-out menu after stating that all sandwiches come with a side of potatoe salad:

"Let the sky rain
potatoes" ~The Merry Wives of Windsor Act 5, Scene 5

Definitely more appropriate to use Falstaff for food adverts.

Anonymous said...

Then there are all those student essays with titles like "To park or not to park" or "To vote or not to vote." I wonder if students think titles like that are clever or classy or original. They strike me as lazy.

kj said...

Thanks for the comments!

However overpriced the shoes at "Shoe Woo" may be, at least they didn't go for the option from Richard III:

Was ever woman in this humour woo'd?
Was ever woman in this humour won?
I'll have her; but I will not keep her long. (I.ii.227-29)

I think Slender and Falstaff would make a great merchandising duo!


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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