Friday, January 21, 2011

Verbal Bitch Slaps From William Shakespeare

Last week we started the new year by delving into the daily calendar filled with Shakespearean insults that I got as a gift from my mother in law. I found a new favorite word, whoreson, but I've yet to find an instance to use it. Don't worry, I'll find my moment. We also found out that it's a blast to make fun of ug-mo's no matter what century you live in. Let's see what Shakespeare has waiting for us this week.

"The excuse that thou dost make in this delay is longer than the tale
thou dost excuse."
--Romeo and Juliet 2.5.33-34
Juliet lays into her Nurse for taking too long in conveying news about Romeo. This is proof that you should never get in between a 13-year-old and her husband. But, since this is puppy love, a little quarrel between a spoiled princess-type and her nurse isn't all that bad. I'm sure nothing catastrophic will come of the situation.

"May his pernicious soul
Rot half a grain a day!"
--Othello, the Moor of Venice 5.2.156-157
The first thing I had to do here was look up the word pernicious, which, I'll admit, is a bit sad for someone with an English degree. I was disappointed when it turned out to simply mean "hurtful.". After all, Emilia is talking to Othello about her husband, Iago, who I think may well be the biggest prick Shakespeare's ever written into one of his plays. "Boo hoo, Othello passed me over for a promotion and I've got the hots for his wife, so I'm obviously well within my rights to destroy his life and those of everyone around him." I may be paraphrasing that quote, but it's not surprising that his wife wishes him slow and painful death.

"Weaker than a woman's tear,
Tamer than sleep, fonder than ignorance,
Less valiant than the virgin in the night,
And skilless as unpractised infancy."
--The History of Troilus and Cressida 1.1.9-12
This is pretty funny, and it also marks the first time in this calendar where the insult is aimed at one's self. In this case, Troilus is lamenting over what a pussy he's become since falling in love with Cressida. After all, a great man once said that dames are here to weaken us, drain our energy, laugh when they see us naked.

"No doubt the murd'rous knife was dull and blunt
Till it was whetted on thy stone-hard heart."
--The Tragedy of King Richard the Third 4.4.227-228
Queen Elizabeth is saying this to Richard after he killed her sons. It's just a sophisticated way of calling him a cold bastard. No...whoreson! He's a cold whoreson! Yay, I got to use it.

"When thou art old and rich,
Thou hast neither heat, affection, limb, nor beauty,
To make they riches pleasant."
--Measure for Measure 3.1.36-38
I think someone's going to have to help me out on this one, because I'm not getting enough context for this to make sense. The Duke says the above phrase to Claudio, who is being sentenced to death for impregnating a woman according to the calendar's foot notes. So what the hell does it matter that a person's money is no comfort for the failures of an aging body? If Claudio is about to be hanged, he doesn't much have to worry about a failing body does he?

"An he had been a dog that should have howled
thus, they would have hanged him...I had
as live have heard the night raven, come what
plague could come after it."
--Much Ado About Nothing 2.3.77-81
Believe it or not, this is the type of thing you would have heard Simon Cowell say had he been alive in Shakespeare's day. Benedick says this of Balthasaar, whose singing is so bad that he says a dog would have been killed for howling like that, and that he'd rather hear the noise of a night raven, whose call usually serves as an omen for an oncoming disaster. In other words, "I'd rather hear the sound of my own doom than hear this douche sing again."

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure one day on your calendar will have "The devil damn thee black, thou cream faced loon!"

    Macbeth says that to a page who brings him a message.