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Travel: Would you want the Scottish play hovering over your bed?

3 May

I am currently traveling on business and ensconced at the Revere Hotel in Boston. It’s a very nice hotel, and full of boutiquey weirdness, just like I like it. Plus, the price was right on Hotwire. But I need to discuss its art with you. Specifically, two items that are illustrated Shakespeare quotes.

The first is a quote from Othello, over the desk:

Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.

The second is from the Scottish play:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Am I just weird and not appreciating the theater theme of this room since we’re in Boston’s theater district? (The Do Not Disturb signs are super cute), or am I completely reasonable in being creeped out by a room featuring artistic centerpieces involving both a quote from a play about a guy who smothers his wife with a pillow and a quote about how life has no meaning from a different play that happens to be considered cursed?

I get how the two pieces almost work for their positioning — the Othello piece arguably speaks to the act of business just as the other one arguably speaks to the exhaustion of business travelers like me, but I feel like the hotel is almost counting on no one having actually read these plays. Surely they could have chosen something from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and been just as edgy without being appalling, right?

I love both these plays; Othello is one of my absolute favorites, and I played the Lady when I was in Sydney, so I was almost tickled by the art until I started thinking about it.

So help me out, Internet — what on earth was the hotel decorator thinking and would all this be more or less creepy if I weren’t here on my own?

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8 Responses to “Travel: Would you want the Scottish play hovering over your bed?”

  1. mwinikates May 3, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

    The English major in me says you are definitely justified in finding that creepy. Context is important, of course, but even without context, those quotes are not what I would consider conducive to untroubled rest. I never stay in hotels in Boston because I live here, so I can’t say I’ve ever run across this particular example, but beyond the quotes themselves, even the illustration style is a little Gorey for my comfort. I like the ‘do not disturb’ signs, though!

    • Faye May 3, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

      My first response to anything over the bed is “Earthquake unsafe!” which led to me trying to think of the most appropriate Shakespearean quote to have fall on someone and crush them to their death during a natural disaster, followed by wondering what they’ve hung in the bathroom and what the least appropriate loo quote would be (ooh, ‘out out damned spot’ over the washbasin!)

      Nonetheless, couldn’t we have had some midsummer’s night’s dreams instead of murderous nightmares and dusty oblivion? Not what I’d call conducive to rest.

      Maybe they’d sell you the do not disturb signs…

  2. Nomi May 3, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    I haven’t been over to that hotel (though I work not far from there), but my gut says that the interior designers had no clue of the source material other than what (the online version of ) Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations indicated was a relevant quote based on keywords.

  3. ahautevoixdotcom May 3, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    Wow.
    Yes, they were clearly going for edgy and arrived at creepy instead. I /do/ think they’d be funnier if you weren’t alone, because there’d be a companion to the wtfery.
    “Signifying nothing” is pretty much the diametric opposite of “Be grand”.

  4. Noel May 4, 2012 at 3:00 am #

    Midsummer Night’s Dream would have made loads more sense:

    If we shadows have offended,
    think but this; and all is mended
    that you have but slumbered here
    while these visions did appear
    and this weak and idle theme
    no more yielding but a dream.

    That would make for a pretty thematic and classy hotel wall. Their actual choices, less so.

  5. Patrick Di Justo May 4, 2012 at 9:41 am #

    Simplest answer: The designer wasn’t thinking.

  6. North Sky May 5, 2012 at 11:45 am #

    Sounds to like you are looking for something that ain’t there. Boston’s a fun town to play tourist in, surely a better use of your time than this.

    • RM May 5, 2012 at 11:50 am #

      Nope, the art with content from two of Shakespeare’s more disturbing tragedies was definitely on the wall, and looking at how pop-culture moves through the world is one of the things I do for fun — so please don’t tell me I’m wasting my time because I took a few minutes to write a blog entry about something on that theme, especially when regards content I am extremely familiar with.

      And yes, Boston is lovely. I’m there at least twice most months, but this was one of those times when I had even less time in the hotel than I did in transit, which was sort of a tragedy. I did get to go to Legal Seafoods though, which is a gluten-free paradise.

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