"For the entertainment and annoyance of my friends":
Dr. Lyman's literary references in Bus Stop
CHERIE: I don’t understand anything you say, but I just love the way you say it.
DR. LYMAN: And I understand everything I say, but privately despise the way I say it.
Many critics have pointed to the character of Dr. Lyman in Bus Stop as autobiographical. Both playwright William Inge and Dr. Lyman were college professors, both struggled with alcoholism, and both were obviously well-read and educated. Throughout the play, Dr. Lyman references English literature, often Shakespeare, to the admiration (or confusion) of the other characters. Below, you’ll find the original sources for his allusions and quotations.
“This castle hath a pleasant seat” (11)
This quote is from Shakespeare’s Macbeth in Act I, Scene VI, excerpted here:
Enter Duncan, Malcolm, Donalbain, Banquo, Lennox, Macduff, Ross, Angus, and Attendants.
DUNCAN: This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air
Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
Unto our gentle senses.
BANQUO: This guest of summer,
The temple-haunting martlet, does approve
By his loved mansionry that the heaven's breath
Smells wooingly here. No jutty, frieze,
Buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this bird
Hath made his pendant bed and procreant cradle;
Where they most breed and haunt, I have observed
The air is delicate.
Enter Lady Macbeth.
DUNCAN: See, see, our honor'd hostess!
The love that follows us sometime is our trouble,
Which still we thank as love. Herein I teach you
How you shall bid God 'ield us for your pains,
And thank us for your trouble.
LADY MACBETH: All our service
In every point twice done, and then done double,
Were poor and single business to contend
Against those honors deep and broad wherewith
Your Majesty loads our house. For those of old,
And the late dignities heap'd up to them,
We rest your hermits.
“Nymph, in thy orisons, be all my sins remembered” (13)
This quote is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Act 3, Scene 1, excerpted here:
HAMLET: To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. — Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.
OPHELIA: Good my lord,
How does your honour for this many a day?
HAMLET. I humbly thank you; well, well, well.
OPHELIA. My lord, I have remembrances of yours,
That I have longed long to re-deliver;
I pray you, now receive them.
“That time of year thou may’st in me behold…” (17)
This quote is from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73, reprinted here in full:
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day…” (19)
This quote is from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, reprinted here in full:
Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And Summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And oft' is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd:
But thy eternal Summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
“Madam, where is thy Lochnivar?” (20)
This reference is likely to Sir Walter Scott’s character Lochnivar from his epic poem Marmion. The first stanza of the Lochnivar section:
O young Lochinvar is come out of the west,
Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;
And save his good broadsword he weapons had none,
He rode all unarm'd, and he rode all alone.
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.
There is also a loch (lake) named Lochnivar with the ruins of a castle, but it is more likely that he is saying “Madam, where is your prince?,” than “Madam, where is your home?” based on Cherie’s previous line
“A brilliant idea, straight from Chaucer” (40)
Dr. Lyman is referencing Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, in which a group of fellow travelers entertain one another on a long trip. Below, you’ll find a quotation from Chaucer’s prologue, explaining the concept:
But take it not, I pray you, in disdain;
This is the point, to put it short and plain,
That each of you, beguiling the long day,
Shall tell two stories as you wend your way
To Canterbury town; and each of you
On coming home, shall tell another two,
All of adventures he has known befall.
And he who plays his part the best of all,
That is to say, who tells upon the road
Tales of best sense, in most amusing mode,
Shall have a supper at the others' cost
Here in this room and sitting by this post,
When we come back again from Canterbury.
And now, the more to warrant you'll be merry,
I will myself, and gladly, with you ride
At my own cost, and I will be your guide.
“You were the loveliest Juliet since Miss Jane Cowl.” (61)
Jane Cowl, famous American actress, played Juliet on Broadway from January to June in 1923. From the original review of her highly anticipated performance:
“Of the Juliet, it is difficult to write with moderation. […] There was youth to begin with, touched with the beauty and the mystery of great love. The balcony scene was as familiar as a caress, utterly ingenuous and impassioned: yet it positively sang with lyric exaltation. The potion scene ran the full gamut of womanly trepidation, grisly fear, and heroic resolution. Never in modern memory has it been rendered with such virtuosity and at the same time with such simple conviction. The ultimate scene in the tomb was perhaps the finest of all in its conception, as it was the most moving. For here Miss Cowl rose to that rare height where gesture is impotent and speech most effective when most subdued. It was a moment of absolute tragedy.”