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We’re major Shakespeare buffs. While most of the time these you may only see the word in the description of a manic pixie dream girl, the word was all over Shakespeare’s work. In fact, two of our favorite monologues have the word ‘pluck’ in them:
“Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of
me! You would play upon me; you would seem to know
my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my
mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to
the top of my compass: and there is much music,
excellent voice, in this little organ; yet cannot
you make it speak. ‘Sblood, do you think I am
easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what
instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you
cannot play upon me.”
– Hamlet, Act III, Scene II
“Your cares set up do not pluck my cares down.
My care is loss of care, by old care done;
Your care is gain of care, by new care won: 2185
The cares I give I have, though given away;
They tend the crown, yet still with me they stay.”
– Richard II, Act IV, Scene I
Both of these monologues are great because they exude both a raw sense of power and humor at the same time. It’s not humor you expect because these are both big deal events in the respective plays: Richard has lost the crown and this is it, this is the last public appearance he must know before he dies and Hamlet is accusing two people he thought were his friends of manipulating him and spying on him.
It’s not a mistake that the word ‘pluck’ is in both of these moments. It’s a word that means to grab and take and it means to have gusto, it has to do with music and it has to do with power. It is a word that that is light and can have many connotations, which is why we’re using it here.