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Shakespeare Quotes: Play fast and loose

Shakespeare Quotes: Play fast and loose


King John

Play fast and loose Introduction

I'm King Phillip. I'm the King of France and I'm really easily swayed and change my mind a lot. And you know what I think?

Good reverend father, make my person yours,
And tell me how you would bestow yourself.
This royal hand and mine are newly knit,
And the conjunction of our inward souls
Married in league, coupled and linked together
With all religious strength of sacred vows;
The latest breath that gave the sound of words
Was deep-sworn faith, peace, amity, true love
Between our kingdoms and our royal selves,
And even before this truce, but new before,
No longer than we well could wash our hands
To clap this royal bargain up of peace,
Heaven knows, they were besmear'd and over-stain'd
With slaughter's pencil, where revenge did paint
The fearful difference of incensed kings:
And shall these hands, so lately purged of blood,
So newly join'd in love, so strong in both,
Unyoke this seizure and this kind regreet?
Play fast and loose with faith? so jest with heaven,
Make such unconstant children of ourselves,
As now again to snatch our palm from palm,
Unswear faith sworn, and on the marriage-bed
Of smiling peace to march a bloody host,
And make a riot on the gentle brow
Of true sincerity? O, holy sir,
My reverend father, let it not be so!
Out of your grace, devise, ordain, impose
Some gentle order; and then we shall be blest
To do your pleasure and continue friends. (3.1.224-252)

Who Said It and Where

This one is from a little known play called King John. Not familiar? Here's the lowdown: Richard the Lionhearted was King, and appointed his brother John to be king after him. Appointed, you ask? That's right. Not everyone is on board with this decision since the English crown passes from father to son—at least, traditionally.

It's really Arthur, Richard's nephew, who should be king. Naturally this leads to a huge argument between a bunch of lords, ladies, and knights who all have an opinion about who should rightfully be sitting on the throne.

King Phillip of France thinks this is all a bit sad for poor little Arthur. He wants King John to step down from the throne so Arthur can rule. It is his right after all. But don't think this support for the little prince means that King Phillip is a good guy. He wants to be, but he doesn't have the backbone. He goes wherever the wind takes him. And the wind quickly takes him on over to King John's side when it looks like their families should join forces.

See, back in those days, a bunch of political deals were done through marriage. The citizens of Angers suggest that King John's niece Blanche and King Phillip's son Louis get hitched. And King Phillip just goes with it. Why not?

But not everyone is happy about this union. When she sees John and Phillip stroll in hand in hand, telling everyone how happy they are, Arthur's mom, Constance, puts a kibosh on it. She's ticked that Phillip has gone back on his promise to side with her son, and she basically accuses him of being a slime ball. He promised one thing and did another. Not cool, dude.

He tries to defend himself. What's a guy to do in his position? Not go through with a marriage that would be good for his country just because he made a promise to some kid? He doesn't think so.

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