Shakespeare on Treason and Traitors

Son: What is a traitor?
Lady Macduff: Why, one that swears and lies.
Son: And be all traitors that do so?
Lady Macduff: Everyone that does so is a traitor, and must be hanged.
Son: Who must hang them?
Lady Macduff Why, the honest men.
Son: Then the liars and swearers are fools; for there are liars and swearers enow to beat the honest men, and hang up them.”


O, what a fall was there, my countrymen! Then I, and you, and all of us fell down, Whilst bloody treason flourish’d over us
Julius Caesar

The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils.
The Merchant of Venice

Fellow kings, I tell you that that Lord Say hath gelded the commonwealth and made it an eunuch; and more than that, he can speak French,and therefore he is a traitor
King Henry the Sixth, Part II

False king, why hast thou broken faith with me, Knowing how hardly I can brook abuse? King did I call thee? No, thou art not king; Not fit to govern and rule multitudes, Which dar’st not, no, nor canst not rule a traitor
King Henry the Sixth, Part II

from th’ extremest upward of thy head To the descent and dust beneath thy foot, A most toad-spotted traitor
King Lear

Though those that are betray’d Do feel the treason sharply, yet the traitor stands in worse case of woe

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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