All’s Well That Ends Well

Shakespeare: the funny bits

This is one of my favourite speeches from Shakespeare, although I didn’t know which play it was from, because Borges, smartypants that he is, cites it in an essay without giving the play’s title. Parolles is a knave who’s risen to the rank of captain by bluff and trickery: a more realistic version of Falstaff, who is eventually exposed and disgraced.

Parolles: Yet I am thankful. If my heart were great,
‘Twould burst at this. Captain I’ll be no more;
But I will eat, and drink, and sleep as soft
As captain shall. Simply the thing I am
Shall make me live. Who knows himself a braggart,
Let him fear this: for it will come to pass
That every braggart shall be found an ass.
Rust, sword; cool, blushes; and, Parolles, live
Safest in shame. Being fool’d, by fool’ry thrive.
There’s place and means for every man alive.

I thought I hadn’t been able to find any unintentional humour or silliness in All’s Well That End’s Well, but then I noticed the rhyme, or near-rhyme, in the sixth and seventh lines of the foregoing.

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