What In the World is a Dowager?

“Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour

Draws on apace; four happy days bring in

Another moon: but, O, methinks, how slow

This old moon wanes! she lingers my desires,

Like to a step-dame or a dowager

Long withering out a young man revenue.*”

What exactly does this all mean? And what in the world is a dowager??

If you thought these questions, it’s probably because this is Shakespeare english. Shakespeare wrote a lot of plays. And maybe you’ve wondered before why his speech is so baffling and confusing.


Shakespeare’s plays can seem incomprehensible.

Well, the answer is that back then, that was common, every-day language!

Two years ago, I took an eye-opening English class on The Potters School. Lately I’ve realized that humans have fallen short of the rich, multi-layered, original English. I, for one, am bilingual, and know the importance of language. Expressing oneself is crucial to every day life, and the shrunken vocabulary of those around me has caught my attention. First of all, let me address the problem with state of being verbs. Eight little words that each of us use every day can sometimes go unnoticed because we’ve become accustomed to them: Am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been. Of course, I am not an English professor or an expert at grammar, and I fall into the trap of BE verbs and passive voice more often than I’d like to admit, so I myself am at fault here as well. But if you think about it, BE verbs and passive voice limit our voice of creativity in expressing ourselves. Sometimes I feel so concerned about the current generation’s speech abilities, but then I remind myself that God has everything in His hands. (But that still doesn’t keep me from trying to widen my vocabulary 🙂 ) Below is a video that I feel like illustrates part of what I am trying to explain:

Note: I have nothing against Americans, I just felt like this is a funny video that helps communicate part of what I am trying to explain. And don’t get me wrong, I am sure that there are PLENTY of fluid English speakers out there, I am just sharing my own observations.

Oh, and by the way, if you were wondering, a dowager means a widow with a title or property derived from her late husband.

*Excerpt from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare


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