A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

What's the correct wording of "Hell hath no fury … "?

May 10, 1974

Dear Cecil:

Since you know how many calories there are in the average male ejaculation, you should also know the answer to a question that follows directly from it. What is the correct wording — "Hell hath no fury as a woman's scorn," or "Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned"? The difference is subtle but profound.

Cecil replies:

Huh, just like me.  The original quote went like this:

Heav'n has no rage like love to hatred turn'd
Nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorn'd.

The saying is from the closing line of act III of William Congreve's The Mourning Bride, first produced in 1697. The Mourning Bride is your usual king-orders-beheading-of-enemy-prince-upon-finding-he-is-secretly-married-to-king's-daughter- but-gets-it-himself-in-a-case-of-mistaken-identity-resulting-in-another-mistaken-identity-with- subsequent-suicide-by-poisoning-revolution-and-reunion-of-happy-lovers tragedy.

The first line of the play is another oft-misquote: "Music has charms to soothe a savage breast."

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