INSULTING SHAKESPEARE

or, Toads, Beetles, Bats, Light on You! 


Happy Birthday Will

Kids: It’s time to improve your vocabulary! In addition to them many words* and phrases** that William Shakespeare added to the English language, he was also master of the insult. Add some zany comments to sibling squabbling and friendly teasing. [WARNING NOT FOR USE WITH PARENTS OR TEACHERS] Show you’re well-read. Why just call your friend a “dope” when you can say, (as does one character to another in The Tempest): ”What a pied ninny's this! Thou scurvy patch!” Think of how impressed your older (or younger) brother (or sister) will be when you can say to them: “O braggart vile and damned furious wight! The grave doth gape, and doting death is near; Therefore exhale.” (King Henry V Act 2 Scene 1) or

The devil it is that's thy master. Why
dost thou garter up thy arms o' this fashion?
dost make hose of thy sleeves? do other servants
so? Thou wert best set thy lower part where thy
nose stands. By mine honour, if I were but two
hours younger, I'd beat thee: methinks thou art
a general offence, and every man should beat
thee: I think thou wast created for men to
breathe themselves upon thee.
(All's Well that Ends Well Act 2 Scene 3


The Sisters Club      The Sisters Club / Megan McDonald
Presenting (in birth order) Alex, Stevie, and Joey as the children of actors Mom and Dad Reel, descendents of Hepzibiah McNuttly Reel, pioneer actress and founder of the Raven Theater in Acton, Oregon where the family still resides. Not just in the town, but in the theater itself so there’s always props hanging around the living room. Also impromptu performances of King Lear, adapted for family production:

“Goneril: I love thee more than meat loves salt.

 Regan: Well, I love thee more than meat loves special sauce, lettuce and a bunch of other stuff on a sesame-seed  bun. My love is supersize!

 Me: Hey, No fair. Dad she’s making it sound like an old hamburger commercial, not Shakespeare.”

And an excellent selection of (you guessed it):
“How to Swear in Shakespeare
From the often-used vocabulary of Alex Reel, whenever she is around her sisters

  • You quintessence of dust!
  • Mad mustachio’d purple-hued maltworm!
  • Puke-stocking!
  • Valiant flea!
  • Bedlam brainsick duchess!
  • Bolt-hutch of beastliness!
  • Foul fiend of Flibbertigibbet!
  • Gross watery pumpion!
  • Spotted snake with double tongue!
  • A pox of wrinkles (on thee)!
  • A bugbear take you!
  • A plague o’ pickle-herring (upon thee)!”

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things      Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things / Lenore Look

Second grader Alvin wishes he had the self-confidence of his older brother, or his younger sister, Anibelly, or the town hero, Henry David Thoreau. Alvin lives in Concord, Massachusetts, a hard place to spell, plus it just full of dead authors who still live there. He knows that he “comes from a long line of brave Chinese farmer-warriors.” And so he decides to outwit his fears with careful planning and a PDK, a Personal Disaster Kit. Also, he learns valuable things from his father.

“When he’s had a bad day, my dad can play the piano like crazy until he is his old self again…or if he’s had a truly horrible day, he can curse a wild blue streak like William Shakespeare.

“Sorrow on thee, thou spongy onion-eyed hugger-mugger! my dad might say. Then he’d write it down. Or clean thine ears, thou lumpish bum-bailey!” Every time he thinks of a new curse, he writes it on a little piece of paper and puts it in a tin. Cursing like Shakespeare always makes him feel better.”

These are skills that he can put to use if threatened:

  • “Grow unsightly warts, thou half-faced horn-beast!”
  • “Bathe thyself, thou reeky reeling-ripe pigeon egg!”
  • “Away, I say, thou currish milk-livered mold-warp!”
  • “Get thee gone, thou beshibbering onion-eyed flap-dragon!”

Or you can make up your own using The Elizabethan Insult and Curses of an Elizabethan Nature
 

Shakespeare's Words and Phrases
*Words **Phrases
amazement all that glitters isn't gold
bedroom be all and end all
cold-blooded catch a cold
discontent disgraceful conduct
to educate elbow room
fashionable fair play
gloomy the game is afoot
housekeeping heart of gold
importantly itching palm
juiced Judgement Day
kissing kill with kindness
lackluster live long day
majestically method in his madness
new-fangled night owl
outbreak one fell swoop
puppy-dog pitched battle
quarrelsome quality of mercy is not strained
roadway rhyme nor reason
schoolboy strange bedfellows
traditional too much of a good thing
unchanging under the greenwood tree
vulnerable violent delights have violent ends
well-read what the dickens
yelping yeoman's service
zany