William Shakespeare and Flowers

We take a closer look at the works of William Shakespeare and explore how one of the most important writers in literature intertwines flowers into his plays and poems to convey the thoughts, feeling and emotions of his characters.

Romeo and Juliet by Sir Frank Francis Bernard Dicksee

Romeo and Juliet by Sir Frank Francis Bernard Dicksee

 
Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo & Juliet

Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo & Juliet

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
— Romeo & Juliet

Shakespeare mentions roses the most in his work, the flowers feature in over 70 different occasions in his writings. They are key in his most iconic play Romeo and Juliet, representing the love of the young couple that in the end kills them both. Juliet uses a rose to describe her love from Romeo, even though his surname has negative connotations to her family, she still loves him. Flowers also have a symbolic meaning at the end of the play as Juliet’s wedding flowers become her funeral flowers.

The Victorian language of flowers was also incorporated into Shakespeare’s work, he used flowers to share the feelings of characters and convey hidden messages; the perfect example of this is Hamlet. In the scene where Ophelia has gone insane she hands out flowers in court to represent each recipient; fennel and columbine stand for deceit and flattery. Rue symbolizes bitterness and is also known as the herb of grace. The daisy symbolises innocence and violets represent faithfulness, which Ophelia says all withered away when her father was killed.

There’s fennel for you, and columbines. There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace o’ Sundays. You must wear your rue with a difference. There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died.
— Hamlet
Vogue Japan, Oct 2015

Vogue Japan, Oct 2015

Shakespeare also used flowers for metaphors. Lady Macbeth tells her husband to appear sweet and harmless on the outside like a pretty flower in order to attract the king, while hiding a violent intent underneath that could strike at anytime.

Your hand, your tongue: Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under’t
— Macbeth

In homage to Shakespeare’s references of flowers there are many Shakespeare gardens around the globe that have been planted using plants and flowers mentioned in his work. The most famous locations are Central Park, New York and his hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK. Any visit to a Shakespeare garden, transports you to the literary works interpreted through the plants and flowers, creating a living interpretation of the Bard’s work.

A Shakespeare garden at the house he was born at in the UK

A Shakespeare garden at the house he was born at in the UK

 

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Celebrate the work of William Shakespeare with our beautiful blooms

The Witching Hour Flower Bouquet

Gypsy Heart Flower Jar

Aurora’s Call Bud Vase