It's no secret Stratford's street names all relate back to the works of Shakespeare, a tradition dating back to 1878 when the then chairman of the Taranaki Waste Lands Board, Charles Whitcombe, gave instructions that all future streets in the town should have names connected to the works of William Shakespeare. Editor Ilona Hanne explores the literary references behind some of the town's street names in this regular column. This week, we look at the stories behind the names Falstaff and Rosalind.
"The better part of valour is discretion."
Falstaff in Henry IV Part 1, Act V Scene 4
He is undoubtedly the most famous drunkard of all literature, but there is far more to Sir John Falstaff than just a love of drinking sack (sherry).
Falstaff features in three of Shakespeare's plays - Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and The Merry Wives of Windsor and he is also mentioned but has no lines or actual stage presence in Henry V as well.
Theatrical legend says The Merry Wives of Windsor - which was actually called Sir John Falstaff and the Merry Wives of Windsor in some early editions - was written by Shakespeare at the behest of Queen Elizabeth I.
It is said after she watched a performance of Henry IV Part I, she asked Shakespeare to write a play showing Falstaff in love as she loved the comic character so much.
She wasn't alone in her love for the rotund, vain, and boastful knight, Falstaff is one of Shakespeare's most popular characters, and it's not hard to see why. He has some great lines in each of the plays and while he might be a dishonest, narcissistic coward, his elaborate puns and clever wordplay make him the absolute king of smack talk.
Consider the moment in Henry IV Part 1 (Act II, Scene IV) when he actually runs out of breath before insults to throw at Prince Hal.
"... You starveling, you elfskin, you dried neat's tongue, you bull's pizzle, you stockfish! O, for breath to utter what is like thee! You tailor's yard, you sheath, you bowcase, you vile standing tuck."
While Prince Hal might have started this insult exchange, Falstaff certainly won it and I can't help but wonder what the 21st century Prince Hal would have done if on the receiving end of so many insults. Instructed his lawyers from his home in Montecito to sue perhaps?
Falstaff always loved a good joke, and would probably find great hilarity in the fact his words about discretion and valour are so often quoted in the context of bravery in modern times when he actually uttered those lines cynically - when he had just pretended to be dead to avoid getting killed on the battlefield.
"Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold."
Rosalind in As You Like It, Act I, Scene III
With a total of 721 lines in As You Like It, Rosalind has more lines than any other female character in a Shakespearean play, and she puts them to good use.
She is one of Shakespeare's most recognisable and well-known heroines, known for her quick wit, resilience and beauty, as well as being a truly loyal friend and family member.
A true feminist, she doesn't allow society to impose limits on her and is as clever as she is kind-hearted. Independent and strong-willed, Rosalind takes control of her own destiny when she disguises herself as a young man called Ganymede. promising to cure Orlando of his love for a certain young woman called Rosalind.
When it comes to love, however, Rosalind is not immune to its charm. She falls in love with Orlando, and he with her, at first sight, but that doesn't mean she doesn't recognise the foolishness of such feelings.
Reflecting the views of many Elizabethans, she declares love to be insanity - many Elizabethans referred to the state of being in love as an illness, and she argues it is something that a person can, and should, be cured from.
"Love is merely a madness; and, I tell you, deserves as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do."
Roaslind as Ganymede, As You Like It, Act III, Scene II
it is part of her charm and depth that, despite recognising love to be madness, she still fully embraces the experience of falling in love herself.
While she might enjoy the emotions of love however, she has no time for overdramatic representations for it, so when Orlando claims he will actually die should Rosalind reject his love she tells him that while many men have died, none of them have died for love and he should stop being so melodramatic about it all.