SparkNotes Blog

How to Tell if You’re About to Die in a Shakespeare Play

The chances that you’ll one day find yourself in a Shakespeare play are very small. However, the chances that you’ll SURVIVE being in a Shakespeare play are smaller still. 

“How exactly,” one might ask, “can my chances of surviving a Shakespeare play actually be SMALLER than my chances of being in one at all?” Look, I don’t know what to tell you. Just know that you’ll probably never find yourself in a Shakespeare play, and if you somehow do you’ll probably die, but even if you don’t end up in one you might die anyway. 

I can’t tell you how to know if you’re about to die in real life (that’s a fun game of chance we’re all playing every day), but here are the signs you’re about to bite it in a Shakespeare play.

1. If soothsayers are following you around delivering portents of doom, you’re probably about to die in a Shakespeare play.

2. If you have an illegitimate son with a chip on his shoulder who’s constantly lurking nearby, you’re probably about to die in a Shakespeare play.

3. If your husband suspects you might be cheating on him despite having no evidence whatsoever, you’re probably about to die in a Shakespeare play.

4. If there’s poison literally anywhere in the immediate vicinity, you’re probably about to die in a Shakespeare play.

5. If you’ve just been knocked off your horse at the height of battle, you’re probably about to die in a Shakespeare play.

6. If you’re becoming increasingly mad with power even while everyone in your social circle is begging you to chill, you’re probably about to die in a Shakespeare play.

7. If you’ve agreed to spy on a member of the Danish royal family, you’re probably about to die in a Shakespeare play.

8. If you enjoy making puns about death, you’re probably about to die in a Shakespeare play.

9. If you’ve fallen in love with someone whose family just so happens to be in a decades-old blood feud with YOUR family, you’re probably about to die in a Shakespeare play.

10. If you’re abruptly seeing ghosts that no one else can see, you’re probably about to die in a Shakespeare play.

11. If you recently had a dream about your death but you’re perfectly content to ignore it, you’re probably about to die in a Shakespeare play.

12. If you’ve committed murder (be it fratricide, regicide, or both) for political gain, you’re probably about to die in a Shakespeare play.

13. If a problem arises for which the only solution is “BETTER FAKE MY OWN DEATH IMMEDIATELY,” you’re probably about to die in a Shakespeare play (along with half the cast).

14. If you’ve ever held a skull aloft while soliloquizing at it, you’re probably about to die in a Shakespeare play.

15. If you’d rather DIE than give your enemy the satisfaction of knowing they’ve won, you’re probably about to die in a Shakespeare play.

16. If you’ve gotten mixed up in a cycle of revenge between a Roman general and the Queen of the Goths, you’re probably about to die in a Shakespeare play.

17. If you’re a misanthrope, you’re probably about to die in a Shakespeare play.

18. If witches keep showing up and telling you prophecies—prophecies you do not, apparently, have any follow-up questions about—you’re probably about to die in a Shakespeare play.