The year is 1599. William Shakespeare is at the palace of Queen Elizabeth I of England. The Queen has ordered Shakespeare to write another play.
Queen Elizabeth I: Mr Shakespeare. Tell me about my new play.
Will: Your Majesty, The Merry Wives of Windsor is a comedy, in which Sir John Falstaff tries to trick two married ladies into giving him money behind their husbands' backs.
Queen Elizabeth I: Falstaff! Hahaha! He is such a wicked man... that's why I like him. Or maybe he reminds me of our dear friend Sir Walter Raleigh, who brings me treasure from around the world. Look at my pearls, taken from a Spanish ship by Raleigh and brought to me as a gift.
Will: They are beautiful, your Majesty. Whoever could guess that such a creature, deep in the ocean, could contain the most beautiful, precious treasure: a pearl?!
Queen Elizabeth I: Yessss... to Raleigh, the whole world is an oyster... full of treasure, ready for the taking. By force if need be... he is not afraid to use the sword to bring me my treasure.
Will: Mr Raleigh is your loyal servant, your Majesty, as am I.
Queen Elizabeth I: To Falstaff. What of his trickery?
Will: Your Majesty, while Falstaff is trying to get money from the wives, his friend Pistol is trying to get money out of him!
Queen Elizabeth I: Hahaha! Does he get it?
Will: Falstaff tells Pistol he won't give him a penny. Pistol becomes angry and says he'll get his sword and open up Falstaff's money bag - or any money bag he can find - like he's opening an oyster with a knife! It goes like this. I will not lend thee a penny...
Thomas Swann as Falstaff: I will not lend thee a penny.
Robert Harley as Pistol: Why, then the world's mine oyster. Which I with sword will open.
Queen Elizabeth I: The world's mine oyster. It's full of money and treasure. Quite right, Mr Shakespeare, quite right.
We'll leave them there for now. The Merry Wives of Windsor was Shakespeare's only comedy to be set entirely in England, and it's considered to be his most realistic portrayal of the daily lives of ordinary people. Think of it as the original 'Real Housewives'. In Shakespeare's play, the phrase the world's mine oyster was used as a threat - but today, it has become the world's my oyster - or your oyster - and it describes situations that contain wonderful opportunities. Take US entrepreneur Chris Gardner, who wrote in his autobiography The Pursuit of Happyness:
The world is your oyster. It's up to you to find the pearls.
It can describe the opportunities that open up when you take risks, have money or learn new skills.
If you learn foreign languages, the world's your oyster.
Queen Elizabeth I: Mr Shakespeare, I am pleased. Your actors will perform this play for me.
Will: To perform, or not to perform: I'll just do what she tells me.
20 A tower of strength 中流砥柱
19 Wild-goose chase 徒劳无果
18 A fool's paradise 黄粱美梦
16 Not budge an inch 毫不让步
15 Forever and a day 永远
14 Spotless reputation 清白的名声
13 Strange Bedfellows 同床异梦的伙伴
12 A pound of flesh 合法但极不合理的要求
11 I'll send him packing 收拾东西走人
10 Give no words but mum 什么都不要说
09 As dead as a doornail 彻底死去
08 I must be cruel, only to be kind 忠言逆耳
07 All that glisters is not gold 闪光的未必都是金子
06 Wear my heart upon my sleeve 表露真心
05 In a pickle 身处困境
04 Though this be madness 看似疯狂 实则有因
03 Greek to me 一窍不通
02 What's done is done 木已成舟
01 The green-eyed monster 嫉妒之心