Penguin Publishing

Dear Mr. Shakespeare…

Dear Mr. Shakespeare,

Our reviewer has gone over your recent submission, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. While we feel the work shows great ambition and promise, we regret that we cannot publish it at this time. Enclosed, please find our suggestions:

  • Your allusion to Schrodinger’s Cat in Romeo and Juliet is clever, but perhaps binds up the plot a bit too much. Where you have written,

Romeo: Give me a dram of poison, of such dubious and volatile nature, that if I imbibe the whole thereof, then bind myself within a box, it shall be impossible to tell if I am either dead or alive, and as such, persons shall have to assume both!

Apothercary: If you had the strength of ten men, it might or might not dispatch you straight.

We suggest something a little more appropriate for a tragedy. Additionally, your stage direction for the closing scene reads, “If the audience claps enough, they come back to life.” This betrays a certain juvenile character in the work.

  • In Richard III, there are more than enough puns on “hump.” Certainly, Queen Margaret was far too old for such suggestions to be taken seriously.

  • The themes in The Merry Homosexual Men of Windsor are a little strong. Might there be some way of toning down the humor while retaining the essential nature of the work?

  • Again, in Hamlet, you include a provision in your stage direction for an alternative ending. You may wish to try focusing on the linear plot, and add stage direction at a later time, on an as-needed basis.

As for the setting in Hamlet, no one is going to believe a story about generation-spanning, geopolitical conflict between France and the Federation of German States. Perhaps you should set the scene in a region better known for militarism.

  • The plot device of precognizant witches in MacBeth is an interesting one. However, predictions like, “No man except MacDuff may harm MacBeth” and “MacBeth shall rule, ’til exactly two and a half months from now” detract very much from the suspense of this political thriller. Perhaps the mystic nature of witchcraft can be evoked with a more mysterious effect.

  • How about if you put a lying, scheming Jew in one of your plays?

  • In Twelfth Night, the plot climaxes with a man making out with a woman who has made out with his sister, while she was pretending to be him. Is there some way you could make that any creepier? We didn’t think it was creepy enough.

  • Henry V could use an elaborate scene spoken entirely in a foreign language. A good excuse for including this scene might be found in an obscure pun on a French colloquialism for ‘vagina.’

  • Knock it off with all the pretentious Pink Floyd references.

We hope that these suggestions will help you to realize the potential locked within your work, Mr. Shakespeare. Please don’t hesitate to resubmit this manuscript, along with any future works you may produce.

Cordially yours,

Francis Bacon