Shakespeare Quotes

Pomp and circumstance

Othello:
O farewell,
Farewell the neighing steed, and the shrill trump,
The spirit-stirring drum, th' ear-piercing fife;
The royal banner, and all quality,
Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!
And O you mortal engines, whose rude throats
Th' immortal Jove's dread clamors counterfeit,
Farewell! Othello's occupation's gone.

Othello Act 3, scene 3, 350–357

If there were one speech that revealed Othello's "tragic flaw," this would be it. The noble Moor, who has led a life of astounding exploits and military glory, has ultimately staked his self-image and peace of mind on his marriage to a Venetian woman of privilege. When the villain Iago craftily persuades Othello that his wife has been unfaithful—a highly improbable event—the general bids farewell not just to marital bliss, but to his livelihood ("occupation"). No longer, he cries, can he experience "all quality,/ Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!"

Othello obviously isn't talking about his high school graduation. "Pomp and circumstance" (and "quality" and "pride") are the glories and ceremonies of warfare. In war's splendid rituals, Othello has forged his identity. Although we often use "pomp and circumstance" negatively, to denote affectation and overwrought exhibitionism, the Renaissance would have been more generous: pomp and circumstance were considered inherent, positive duties of the exalted classes.

Themes: hubris

Speakers: Othello