Bubble Bubble Toil and Trouble was Really Double Double Toil and Trouble

Bubble Bubble Toil and Trouble was Really Double Double Toil and Trouble

When the Bewitched women in Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy Macbeth gathered around The Cauldron to summon up a spell or two, they did not dispatch their dirge with the phrase, “ bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.”

No one should ever confuse the musings of quirky quacker Scrooge McDuck with the wise and witty writings of William Shakespeare, but that’s exactly what occurred when the peculiar pen of Walt Disney and his stable of scribes met the beautiful balladry of The Bard. In the opening scene of Act 4 of Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, three witches stand around a steaming Kettle and warble the famous phrase, ”Double, Double, Toil and Trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble.”

The poetic punch of that couplet remained untainted until we were presented with Disney’s classic cartoon “Much Ado About Scrooge,” a jocular jaunt that parodies Shakespeare’s classic tragedy. In the wonderful world of Disney, the trio of ducks reverses the words in the rhyming scheme, declaring, “ bubble, bubble, toil and trouble, leave this island on the double.” From that moment on, things were never the same in Stratford-Upon-Avon, as countless schoolchildren were convinced that McDuck’s verse was right and the Macbeth rhyme was wrong. English teachers around the country could only wring their hands and hang their heads.

The trend continued into the Modern Age of television when, in 1991, the comedy series Home Improvement, which would later become a number one rated program, presented in episode titled, you guessed it, “ bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.” The plot revolves around a whirlpool and a botched bathroom renovation. It goes without saying that tool time in Primetime didn’t do Shakespeare any favors.

bubble bubble toil and trouble

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