Shakespeare Quotes

Strange bedfellows

Strange bedfellows

Legg'd like a man! and his fins like arms! Warm, o' my
troth! I do now let loose my opinion, hold it no longer: this is no
fish, but an islander, that hath lately suffer'd by a thunder-bolt.
[Thunder.] Alas, the storm is come again! My best way is to creep
under his gaberdine; there is no other shelter hereabout: misery
acquaints a man with strange bedfellows. I will here shroud till the
dregs of the storm be past.

A storm has shipwrecked Trinculo, a jester, with his aristocratic keepers on an uncharted island. Trinculo happens upon the supine form of Caliban, a deformed native whom he first takes to be some sort of strange fish. When he realizes that Caliban has arms and legs and is warm-blooded, he correctly deduces that what seemed a fish is an islander.

As the storm resumes and thunder sounds, Trinculo is forced into the nearest shelter, which happens to be Caliban's gaberdine (a loose-fitting cloak). As Trinculo famously puts it, "misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows," and he uses the phrase more literally than we do. He must, to avoid the storm, actually lie down with the petrified Caliban (who thinks Trinculo a tormenting spirit) and share his garment as bedclothing. Trinculo's "strange" can mean either "foreign," "unknown," or "odd," while we use "strange" only in the last sense. We've also adapted the phrase to more metaphorical uses, meaning by "strange bedfellows" unexpected partners.

Themes: friendship, wit

Speakers: Trinculo