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Sesión 10

Meet Queen Elizabeth, her favourite explorer and 'The Real Housewives Of Shakespeare Speaks' while you learn how to use the phrase the world's mine oyster - and lots more idioms with the word world.


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Queen Elizabeth's treasure

The world is full of money and treasure...
Queen Elizabeth I ruled England from 1558 until her death in 1603. Her reign became known as 'The Golden Age', although she never married and had no children. The Queen loved drama and many of William Shakespeare's plays were performed at court.

To do

Queen Elizabeth is dreaming about a man - but who is he? Could it be William Shakespeare? Before you watch the video, look at the image below. What kind of person do you think the Queen is? What relationship do you think Will has with the Queen? 

Then, watch the video to find out. The answer's under the video – no looking!

Ver el video y completar la actividad

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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.

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.

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.

Mr Raleigh is your loyal servant, your Majesty, as am I.

Queen Elizabeth I
To Falstaff. What of his trickery?

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?

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:

Clip 1
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.

Clip 2
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.

To perform, or not to perform: I'll just do what she tells me. 

Queen Elizabeth is an assertive, confident woman who demands respect. Will is a bit scared of her - so he does exactly what she tells him to do. Poor Will - he seems much more relaxed when he's in his favourite pub with his friends.

The Queen is dreaming about Sir Walter Raleigh - not Will!

To do

Queen Elizabeth has set you a quiz about this video and demands that you complete it. To complete, or not to complete: it's best to just do what she tells you.

Her Majesty's quiz

4 Questions

Answer the questions about this episode to keep Queen Elizabeth happy!

Felicitaciones. Has completado el quiz.
Excellent! ¡Muy bien! Bad luck! Tu puntaje :
x / y

How many did you get right?
3-4 Well done! The Queen is pleased!
0-2 Oh dear - The Queen orders you to try again!


The world is your oyster - go to the next page to find some pearls of wisdom! We'll explore the meaning and use of the world's your oyster, and discover some other popular idioms containing world.

Sesión de vocabulario

  • For more great Shakespeare content visit our partner,The OU


    The world's mine oyster

    Today, the phrase has become the world's my oyster - or your oyster - and it describes situations that contain wonderful opportunities. It can describe the opportunities that open up when you take risks, have money or learn new skills.

    Example sentence
    If you learn foreign languages, the world's your oyster.


    Extra vocabulary

    (here) the place where a King or Queen and their family and servants are living

    the period of time that someone is a king or queen

    to do something behind someone's back
    to do something without letting someone know

    a pearl of wisdom
    a clever saying or a very good piece of advice

    to be in a world of your own
    to not be aware of what's happening around you

    what a small world!
    used to show surprise when you meet someone you know at an unexpected place

    to have the best of both worlds
    to have the advantages of two different things at the same time

    to do someone the world of good
    to make someone feel much healthier or happier

    to not be the end of the world
    to not be the worst thing that could happen


    About Shakespeare Speaks

    Shakespeare Speaks is a co-production between:

    BBC Learning English

    The Open University


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