To the Wolves: Withnail Preaches Hamlet

And speaking of infinite blackness, what could be more darque than Shakespeare recited in the rain? Abandoned and wasted, Withnail, antihero of the comedy masterpiece Withnail and I, laments his ultimate failure to the wolves. This monologue shows him truly aware, for the first time, of the vast emptiness that is his life. Happy Monday!

“I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth,
forgone allcustom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily
with my disposition that this goodly frame,
the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory,
this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave
o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted
with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to
me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.
What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how
express and admirable! In action how like an angel!
In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the
world! The paragon of animals! And yet, to me,
what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not
me: no, nor woman neither…”

– Hamlet, to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

Recquired viewing, this.

6 Responses to “To the Wolves: Withnail Preaches Hamlet”

  1. Milly von Hilly Says:

    “there must and shall be aspirins”
    One of my favourite movies, ever.

  2. D Says:

    Withnail and I is brilliant, saw it about a hundred odd years ago and only once. Few tragicomical moments like losing a wellington in the mud or being attacked by the dishes. Simple, sweet and so well played.

  3. skepticle Says:

    It has long been my opinion that the whole movie was a setup for that scene. And was worth it.

  4. Zoetica Says:

    Skepticle, I doubt many could argue with that. The film is a tribute to that period of the director’s life and to his friend that Withnail was based on. The monologue does make a kind of final statement to the film’s recurring theme of failure and waste.

  5. the daniel Says:

    Of course, the monologue is also a call back to his uncle monty’s staement earlier in the film that when an actor realizes he’ll never play the Dane, he knows he must give up the craft – and weepily quotes a bit of the monologue Withnail recites in the finale.

  6. Nadya Says:

    I love his glassy eyes!