365 Days of Shakespeare

That's right – the Bard in a year.

Posts Tagged ‘tattoo

294. Tattoo designs inspired by “Romeo and Juliet”

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With the popularity of tattoos on the rise – as well as the popularity of being a total nerd for Shakespeare – it makes sense that those seeking ink are also seeking to be inspired by the Bard. He was a master of writing beautiful words and verses, as well as painting beautiful images in his speeches that have lived on for centuries. Many admirers would like to make an everlasting mark upon their skin to represent their love for his incredible writing.

One of his most romantic and popular plays, “Romeo and Juliet”, has several wonderful passages that would work well for a literary tattoo. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.


“One fairer than my love? The all-seeing sun ne’er saw her match since first the world begun.”

“Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.”

“Parting is such sweet sorrow.”

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

“I defy you, stars!”

“Be but sworn my love.”


-Anything to do with crossed stars (stars in general make up a lot of the play’s action and verse, since it has to do with fate and “star-crossed lovers”).

-An idea from the hilarious book “My Name is Will” by Jess Winfield, a founding member of the Reduced Shakespeare Company: Two roses, one white and one red (which, incidentally, mirrors the roses from the War of the Roses), with “By any other name” written below.

-Of course, roses in general work, as well. Though roses are a very popular and oftentimes cliche tattoo choice, adding something a little more Shakespearean will set yours apart from the rest!

-For a couple’s tattoo (not that I recommend doing this…ever), there is the idea of one getting “Montague” and the other “Capulet”. Go all out with a coat of arms, if you feel inspired!

-A mask is always a good option, since Romeo and Juliet first meet and fall in love at a masked ball.

-This one is my own personal idea…but if you want to steal it, go right ahead, since I haven’t made up my mind about it yet: A quill pen, with a line or two from “Romeo and Juliet” being scripted.


Written by Caroline Mincks

July 22, 2010 at 12:22 AM

292. Tattoo designs inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

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Many literary types cannot resist getting a tattoo that reflects their passion for the written word – which is why Shakespeare-inspired tattoos are particularly popular among that crowd. One of his most beloved comedies, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, has become a favorite among the inked for those who wish to decorate their bodies with a passage or an image. If you are interested in a tattoo inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, here are a few ideas to get you started:


“The course of true love never did run smooth.”

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

“Jack shall have Jill; Nought shall go ill; The man shall have his mare again, and all shall be well.”

“Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, such shaping fantasies, that apprehend more than cool reason ever comprehends.”

“And as imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing a local habitation and a name.”

“Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity in least speak most, to my capacity.”

“’Tis almost fairy time.”

“Give me your hands, if we be friends, and Robin shall restore amends.”


-A fairy, of course, is a great image inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” since so much of the plot relies on them.

-There is quite a lot of nature imagery in the play. The most prominent, of course, is the “love-in-idleness”, or the purple flower whose magical properties causes so much of the mayhem. There is a white flower that is its counterpart, which takes the charm away. A duo of these flowers would be particularly pretty.

-There is also a lot of imagery that relates to the moon – Hippolyta starts it in the very first scene, Titania continues it, the mechanicals are pressed to find out the moon’s schedule, and several other characters mention the moon throughout the play. Therefore, a tattoo of a moon would be a beautiful image to have tattooed.

Any tattoo related to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will undoubtedly have an element of darkly whimsical beauty to it if it is an image, and certainly some beautiful poetry if it is a passage. Of course, these are only a few ideas and suggestions – there are surely other things that would be beautiful upon theskin, so read the play and look for pictures to find out what other tattoo ideas this play can offer!

Written by Caroline Mincks

July 20, 2010 at 12:20 AM

291. Tattoo designs inspired by “Hamlet”

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“Hamlet”, perhaps Shakespeare’s best-known play, has been the source of artistic and literary inspiration for scholars over the centuries. Now, as tattoos are gaining popularity and acceptance in the mainstream, more and more people are turning to the Bard for ink ideas – and “Hamlet” has lots to offer.

Though it is ultimately a play about death, betrayal, revenge, and all other manner of dark material, the play is of course seasoned with beautiful verse and plenty of philosophical remarks. It is these passages that ought to be considered if one wants a tattoo inspired by “Hamlet”, as it is these passages that make the play such an overwhelmingly beloved piece of work.

Here are a few such passages from “Hamlet” that would be particularly good for tattoos. Please note that they are out of context and that some begin and end at the “incomplete” points. This is to ensure that they would be more appropriate as a single thought.

“To thine own self be true.”

“Words, words, words.”

“Doubt thou the stars are fire/ Doubt that the sun doth move/ Doubt truth to be a liar/ But never doubt I love.”

“More matter with less art.”

“Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.”

“What a piece of work is 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!”

“What dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil.”

“Sweets to the sweet.”

“The rest is silence.”

For someone seeking to get a “Hamlet” tattoo, it makes the most sense to go with words – it is a rather wordy play, after all, which is perhaps lampshaded by Hamlet’s utterance of “words, words, words.” It is harder to suggest images that would work as effective tattoos – but a skull would, of course, import the argument of the play rather nicely upon the skin. A skull with one of the quotes above would be particularly striking – the “what a piece of work is man”, “What dreams may come”, and “the rest is silence” quotes would work well surrounding the skull image.

To truly find the perfect “Hamlet” tattoo, however, one must read the play themselves…so use this article as a jumping-off point and read this glorious play for yourself, to be really inspired.

Written by Caroline Mincks

July 19, 2010 at 12:18 AM

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200. Shakespeare Tattoo Week, Day Seven

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Final day of Shakespeare Tattoo Week! Our final tattoo to be featured is perhaps the most iconic of all of Shakespeare’s quotes: from the delightful As You Like It, here we have the ever-popular “All the world’s a stage”!

Written by Caroline Mincks

April 19, 2010 at 9:28 PM

199. Shakespeare Tattoo Week, Day Six

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Hamlet and Macbeth are both so popular for tattoos! Today’s tattoo references Macbeth’s “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” speech, speaking about the death of his wife:

Written by Caroline Mincks

April 18, 2010 at 9:24 PM

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198. Shakespeare Tattoo Week, Day Five

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This time from Macbeth, Act I, scene IV, this tattoo is a great little excerpt:

“The prince of Cumberland! that is a step
On which I must fall down, or else o’erleap,
For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;
Let not light see me black and deep desires”

Written by Caroline Mincks

April 17, 2010 at 9:21 PM

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197. Shakespeare Tattoo Week, Day Four

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Another really cool Hamlet tattoo, referencing the last words spoken by the title character!

Written by Caroline Mincks

April 16, 2010 at 9:20 PM

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