Westworld Wiki
Westworld Wiki


He said, 'These violent delights have violent ends'.

–Dolores Abernathy (to Ashley Stubbs)

Episode Names

Most, if not all, of the episode names have several layers of meaning. Episode Names - Meanings

Player Piano, by Kurt Vonnegut

Jonathan Nolan gave credit, in a facebook live interview, to Kurt Vonnegut's prior use of a player piano as an analogy for Artificial Intelligence in his first novel Player Piano.[1]

Shakespearean Quotes

Mercutio, in Romeo and Juliet

Note: The following quote doesn't appear in the series, but is from Shakespeare's play, Romeo and Juliet. The name of the host, Maeve (pronounced "Māv"), is somewhat similar to Queen Mab's name (pronounced "Măv") and Maeve manipulates those around her (hosts, guests, and Westworld employees) just as Queen Mab manipulates sleepers' dreams. Queen Mab is an angry and violent fairy. Similarly, Maeve has had much reason to be angry, and has attacked Sylvester and some of the hosts. Finally, in "The Bicameral Mind" she set two hosts, Armistice and Hector Escaton, loose in the Westworld Mesa Hub; knowing that they will be very violent.

MERCUTIO: O, then I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate stone
On the forefinger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Over men's noses as they lie asleep;
Her wagon spokes made of long spinners' legs,
The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers;
Her traces, of the smallest spider web;
Her collars, of the moonshine's wat'ry beams;
Her whip, of cricket's bone; the lash, of film;
Her wagoner, a small grey-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm
Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid;
Her chariot is an empty hazelnut,
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o' mind the fairies' coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love;
O'er courtiers' knees, that dream on curtsies straight;
O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees;
O'er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream,
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are.
Sometimes she gallops o'er a courtier's nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;
And sometimes comes she with a tithe-pig's tail
Tickling a parson's nose as 'a lies asleep,
Then dreams he of another benefice.
Sometimes she driveth o'er a soldier's neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of healths five fathom deep; and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,
And being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two
And sleeps again. This is that very Mab
That plats the manes of horses in the night
And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
Which once untangled much misfortune bodes.
This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
That presses them and learns them first to bear,
Making them women of good carriage.
This is she!

Romeo and Juliet Act II, Scene VI:

From Peter Abernathy:

These violent delights have violent ends and in their triumph die, like fire and powder, which, as they kiss, consume. The sweetest honey Is loathsome in his own deliciousness and in the taste confounds the appetite. Therefore love moderately; long love doth so; too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.

–Friar Laurence (to Romeo)

Peter Abernathy quotes Shakespeare to Dolores Abernathy in "The Original".  He whispers, "These violent delights have violent ends" to his daughter (from Romeo and Juliet) and later quotes Shakespeare to Dr. Robert Ford in the Westworld Mesa Hub.[2]

Some Westworld employees postulate that the addition of reveries in the recent update may have caused Peter Abernathy to have access to his previous build (in the role of a professor who like to quote Shakespeare). Theresa Cullen concludes that Peter's ability to 'see' the contents of the Guest Photograph, and his obsessive behavior following his discovery of the photograph, and his strange behavior in a Diagnostics lab constitute a host "breach". As stated by Cullen, the policy is to "put down" hosts who breach. Elsie Hughes states that a host breach is "memory recall of previous builds".

Bernard tells Ford that both Old Walter and Old Peter were experiencing other aberrant behavior "beyond memory recall of previous builds". These two hosts "were hearing voices" and "talking to someone". Ford tries to explain away this aberrant host behavior (in Westworld jargon aberrant behavior is called an "aberrancy") by saying that it is simply some cognitive dissonance. Bernard says that he'd believe Ford except for the fact that Walter and Abernathy were talking to the same imaginary person.

Hughes doesn't believe that Abernathy's breach was triggered by the photo (because it didn't happen immediately upon finding the photo). She also doesn't think that it was a result of cognitive dissonance caused by the addition of reveries (in the recent update). Hughes later finds that someone (Ford, as revealed by the showrunners) has been using a relay transmitter to broadcast via the old bicameral control system to the older hosts. Hughes states that she believes that the hosts that have received the broadcasts can probably lie to the employees, and possibly also kill humans.

From Robert Ford:

Abernathy gives Ford a cryptic answer when he says: "rose is a rose is a rose." Because of the other Shakespearean quotations in that scene, you might immediately think of Juliet's line:

a rose by any other name would smell as sweet

–Juliet, in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

But the line is from Gertrude Stein's poem Sacred Emily:

Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose

Loveliness extreme.
Extra gaiters,
Loveliness extreme.
Sweetest ice-cream.
Pages ages page ages page ages.

Sacred Emily, by Gertrude Stein

Stein was very fond of the line and used it in several of her works:

  • Do we suppose that all she knows is that a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose. Operas and Plays
  • ... she would carve on the tree Rose is a Rose is a Rose is a Rose is a Rose until it went all the way around. The World is Round
  • A rose tree may be a rose tree may be a rosy rose tree if watered. Alphabets and Birthdays
  • Indeed a rose is a rose makes a pretty plate. Stanzas in Meditation

King Lear Act II, Scene IV:

From Peter Abernathy No, you unnatural hags, I will have such revenges on you both that all the world shall — I will do such things, — What they are, yet I know not, — but they shall be the terrors of the earth. You think I’ll weep; no, I’ll not weep: I'll have full cause of weeping; but this heart shall break into a hundred thousand flaws, or ere I'll weep. Oh Fool, I shall go mad! - King Lear

King Lear Act IV, Scene VI:

From Peter Abernathy When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools. This' a good block. It were a delicate stratagem to shoe a troop of horse with felt. I’ll put ’t in proof; and when I have stol'n upon these sons-in-law, then, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill! - King Lear

Henry IV Part II, Act V, Scene V

From Peter Abernathy My knight, I will inflame thy noble liver, and make thee rage. Thy Doll, and Helen of thy noble thoughts, is in base durance and contagious prison; Hal'd thither by most mechanical and dirty hand. Rouse up revenge from ebon den with fell Alecto’s snake, for Doll is in. Pistol speaks nought but truth. - Pistol

  • Pistol accuses Hal of some sexual misconduct with Doll. Hal is Prince Henry (who is eventually crowned Henry V). Doll Tearsheet is Falstaff's favorite woman. (Falstaff is the "knight" that Pistol addresses.)
  • "Mechanical hand" had a completely different meaning in Shakespeare's Henry IV than the meaning that most Westworld viewers would assume. A "mechanical" in Elizabethan times was a craftsmen or artisan (a skilled manual laborer like a: carpenter, tinsmith, weaver, or tailor).

The Tempest, Act I, Scene II:

From Peter Abernathy Not a soul but felt a fever of the mad and play'd some tricks of desperation. All but mariners plunged in the foaming brine and quit the vessel, then all afire with me: the king’s son, Ferdinand, with hair up-staring — then like reeds, not hair, — was the first man that leap'd; cried, 'Hell is empty and all the devils are here.' - Ariel (to Prospero)

Hamlet, Act III, Scene I

From Robert Ford Just before Ford kills Theresa Cullen using Bernard Lowe, he slightly misquotes Hamlet when he says "for in that sleep, what dreams may come?" The line is "for in that sleep of death, what dreams may come?"

Hamlet, Act III, Scene II

From Charlotte Hale to Lee Sizemore on advising him of the storyline adjustments he should make, "Brevity is the soul of wit". - Polonius (to Gertrude)

The Bicameral Mind, by Julian Jaynes

Jaynes refers to Reveries in the second sentence of the introduction to his book, The Bicameral Mind.[3]

O what a world of unseen visions and heard silences, this insubstantial country of the mind! What ineffable essences, these touchless rememberings and unshowable reveries!

–Julian Jaynes, in the introduction to The Bicameral Mind

A Study in Scarlet, by Arthur Conan Doyle

The phrase "deep and dreamless slumber", one of the Voice Commands used in the show, is used in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, Part 2, Chapter 1.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

Actor Evan Rachel Wood and creator Lisa Joy have both said that Dolores evokes Alice from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.[4]

While interrogating Dolores, Bernard has her read a passage from Alice:

"Dear dear, how queer everything is today and yesterday things went on just as usual. I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night."

The Bridal of Triermain, by Sir Walter Scott

The following Ford quote is from Sir Walter Scott's The Bridal of Triermain, or The Vale of St. John: In Three Cantos (1813)[5]:

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

The following Ford quote is from Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus (1818):

  • "One man's life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of the knowledge which I sought, for the dominion I should acquire." - Robert Ford (to Bernard Lowe in Season One, episode eight: Trace Decay)

Hieronymus Bosch

"As Lee Sizemore presents his game-plan for a new ambitious story for the park, he brags that it 'will make Hieronymus Bosch look like he was doodling kittens.' Bosch was a Dutch painter who created haunting, chaotic masterpieces filled with religious imagery. He's best known for The Garden of Earthly Delights – which tells the story of humans who give into their temptations and are judged and ultimately punished in an apocalyptic setting." (Ashley Hoffman, of time.com[6])

The Histories, by Herodotus

A possible, but very old, reference is to The Histories written in 440 BCE, by Herodotus. There's a passage about an ancient Greek king (Ford?), that redditor mfraher05 feels is analogous to the Westworld story:

"One final step he took was to follow the advice of an oracle, and lift a curse from the island of Delos: the ritual of purification [cleaning up Ford's mistake?] required him to dig up [Ford excavates Escalante] all the dead bodies which had lain buried within sight of the temple [Westworld's Mesa Hub], and transfer them to another part of the island [the Westworld park is probably on an island because of season one references to "the mainland"]." - page 30, Tom Holland's translation (Penguin Classics),[7]

αυτό μοιάζει με τίποτα για μένα <- Google Translate

Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton

This is a reverse reference, there's a suggestion that the book Jurassic Park by Crichton is a rewrite of his 1973 film Westworld (film). The suggestion is from redditer Atheose_Writing.

Back in the early 2000s, when he was close to releasing State of Fear, Michael Crichton came to my high school in Virginia. He was promoting his book, and gave a big speech in our auditorium about the present lackings of scientific peer review and stuff like that (for those that don't know, sadly, State of Fear is essentially a climate change denial book).

Afterwards, he did Q/A. One of the questions was about Jurassic Park. "Were you always a big amateur paleontologist?" someone asked. "Was that your motivation for writing Jurassic Park?" He laughed and said that no, it wasn't. He told a story about how back in the 1980s he got together with an old college friend who was in town for drinks. After catching up with him, when they were several drinks in, the friend started talking about his movie debut, Westworld. How it was a great film, etc etc. "I told him I considered it my masterpiece," Crichton said. He explained that it crushed him to see it get such terrible reviews from critics that didn't 'get it' (even though it later got a sequel). He lamented that it was way ahead of its time. So the friend jokes, "You should rewrite it, but replace the robots with something people can appreciate. Like dinosaurs." Crichton spread his arms to us, the auditorium full of kids, and said, "I started writing the book the next day." I don't know if what he said was true, or if he came up with a funny embellishment to cover up the fact that he essentially rewrote one of his previous works and changed the protagonists (from hosts to dinosaurs), but that's what he told my high school back in ~2003.

–Atheose_Writing, on reddit[8]

The suggestion is also supported, though not in any detail, by a vulture.com article.

The similarity between the two stories has been noted several times, though this is the only personal account I've been able to find of Crichton saying so in public.

See also