”The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” – William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2
While many are familiar with this famous Shakespeare quote, there is debate about its meaning — is it an expression of the ordinary person’s frustration with the obscurities and complexities of the law, a praise of the legal profession, or just another lawyer joke?
Recited by Dick the Butcher in the fourth act of Henry VI, the henchman offers a solution to Jack Cade, who is acting unscrupulously in pursuit of becoming king. If the gang can eliminate those who might stand in the way of a “contemplated revolution,” Cade could take the crown.
JACK CADE. I thank you, good people:- there shall be no money; all shall eat and drink on my score; and I will apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree like brothers, and worship me their lord.
DICK. The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.
Some say that Shakespeare actually meant this line as a compliment to attorneys and judges, and the important role they play in instilling justice in society.
However, others say that whoever came up with this interpretation was surely a lawyer, disregarding the original intent of the author, which was comedic relief.
DID YOU KNOW
In Mohave County, Arizona, if anyone is caught stealing soap, he must wash himself with it until the soap is gone.