Friday, March 21, 2008

Shakespeare Was Wrong

This one is only borderline Shakespeare, but I liked it.  Specifically it's a branding article talking about the power of your words, and in particular how the name of a product is the most important thing.  The author says, simply, "Shakespeare was wrong - a rose by any other name would not smell as sweet."

What I'm interested in is how you react to that sentence, particularly the first bit.  I'll admit that my first reaction was to see if I could argue that Shakespeare was not wrong.  I'm pleased to be able to point out that their article is actually about the difference between visual and audio, and the rose comment is the only reference to smell, so maybe Shakespeare wasn't so wrong after all.  Yes, if all you ever did was a radio spot where you told people "Wouldn't it be nice to come home after a long day at the office and discover that your husband has brought you a dozen long-stemmed BabyDiapers?"  then yes, they have a point.  And if you'd seen, but never smelled, a rose, now called a "baby's diaper", then perhaps you wouldn't be so keen on hunting them down and paying $5/stem.   But what if you smelled it first, without knowing the name of it?  And you said, "Hey, I like it."  And somebody said, "It's called a Baby's Diaper."  You'd say, "Funny name.  Doesn't smell like that.  Smells good."

Slow news day in the world of Shakespeare, I guess.  You folks come here for the offbeat references, right? :)


Dove said...

Yes, but with that reasoning doesn't it mean that we would always have known the rose as a baby's diaper in which case it would still smell as sweet. The problem only comes if we change the name from rose to baby's diaper which might alter our perception of it, yet that does not stand either because we already know how good the roses smell.

Shakespeare was 100% correct. The intrinsic beauty and smell doesn't change with the name, in my opinion.


Alan K.Farrar said...

Not Shakespeare - the character Juliet!
Shakespeare is doing what he always does - forcing the question on us - he doesn't give an answer.
Juliet gives one - the audience has then to tease out the logic - What's in a name? Rather a lot - the whole play, in a way, is an exploration of that question - Falstaff, when he asks, 'What is honour' does a similar thing.