The world is sb"s oyster

"The world is your oyster" is a quote from Shakespeare"s The Merry Wives of Windsor:

Falstaff: I will not lend thee a penny.

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Pistol: Why then the world"s mine oyster, Which I with sword will open.

Falstaff: Not a penny.

The original implication of the phrase is that Pistol is going to lớn use violent means (sword) lớn steal his fortune (the pearl one finds in an oyster).

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We inherit the phrase, absent its original violent connotation, to mean that the world is ours to lớn enjoy.


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How does one open an oyster? With a knife that is inserted into the opening between the shells and then twisted.

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Does the oyster willing give-up whatever is inside? No, it must be pried apart & can often be very difficult khổng lồ bởi so -- especially as the form size of the oyster increases. But, as the form size of the oyster increases, so does the chance that any pearl contained therein will be larger.

In any given oyster, there is a chance -- but no guarantee -- that a pearly lays within. So, it is with life:

If Falstaff had lent Pistol the money, then Pistol would not have sầu needed khổng lồ seek his fortune (pearl) by going out into lớn the world (the oyster) and using what he already had (his sword and his skills). His sword would be his means of making his fortune -- just as it would be used khổng lồ pry apart the shell of an oyster.

The double-meaning is a common literary device employed by Shakespeare. The use of an oyster as a metaphor for life, also has a double-meaning: The world holds the possibility of making a fortune, but it depends upon how hard one looks for & works at getting. It may take a lot of work & trying a lot of different things (i.e., prying open a lot of oysters) before one finally makes one"s fortune (i.e., finds a pearl).

Violence does not necessarily have sầu lớn be a part of it, but may. The sword, after all it nothing but a tool whose main use is as a weapon. It can, however, be used in peaceful ways, as well.

Pistol is placed in khổng lồ position -- as most young men và women are -- of having to lớn go out inkhổng lồ the world and making something of himself và the opportunities at the start are limitless & can be a gr& as one"s dreams. Every oyster one picks up may hold a pearl, but most don"t. Finding a pearl requires either opening a lot of oysters or having good luchồng -- either will work.

Life is the same way: some people get lucky and make a fortune without seeming to lớn work very hard or very long at it. But, most people either never make a fortune (settling instead for surviving off the meat of the oyster, but never finding that pearl) or have khổng lồ work long và hard (be persistent) to gain their fortunes.

The luckiest never have sầu lớn work at all: fortune is handed khổng lồ them. Pistol asked Falstaff for his fortune và when Falstaff refused, he had no choice but to go out into the world & find it himself.

But, it was a world full of potential & all it took for him lớn find his fortune was hard work và persistence. He was young, so he had time, he wasn"t locked down khổng lồ any location or occupation, so he was không tính tiền to lớn seek his fortune where ever he wanted, and he had the tools necessary -- his sword, his looks và his youth -- to lớn bởi vì it.

Therein lies the multiple meaning of Shakespeare"s invented or borrowed metaphor -- at least that is how I always understood it.