When I was a teenager, I didn’t get Shakespeare. I groaned aloud in class when we had to read any of his plays—save for Romeo and Juliet. Maybe because the lovers were around my age. Or maybe it was because the 1968 film by Franco Zeffrelii was steaming hot. As a young teen, it was one of the few sexy, romantic movies I could get away with watching, because I was learning something. Oh, baby, thouest did indeed. 😉
Fast forward to my sophomore year of college. I begrudgingly took a class on Shakespeare to meet my English requirements. However, when we read our first play, Hamlet, and dissected the prose, I didn’t think I was reading the same stodgy story from my high school days. For the first time, I understood the meaning behind the iambic pentameter. Maybe it was the passionate teacher who unlocked the mystery behind the words for me, or maybe it was being older and somewhat wiser that I recognized the essential story about the human condition and commentary on society that transcended time across 400 years.
Or maybe it was finally seeing the humor in the stories. Even his tragedies were peppered with witty lines. The website No Sweat Shakespeare includes an online generator of Shakespearean insults and a graphic to help you craft the perfect zinger. (Using their chart, I designed this insult: Thou rank, folly-fallen pignut.)
Here are my favorite funny Shakespearean insults to inspire you when someone needs a verbal slap:
1. “Away, you three-inch fool!” (The Taming of the Shrew)
2. “This woman’s an easy glove, my lord, she goes off and on at pleasure.” (Alls Well That Ends Well)
3. “You speak an infinite deal of nothing.” (The Merchant of Venice)
4. “I was seeking for a fool when I found you.” (As You Like It)
5. “I wish my horse had the speed of your tongue.” (Much Ado About Nothing)
6. “I do love nothing in the world so well as you—is not that strange?” (Much Ado About Nothing)
7. Chiron: “Thou hast undone our mother.” Aaron: “Villain, I have done thy mother.” (Titus Andronicus, most likely the first “your mom” joke seen in print)
8. “How well he’s read, to reason against reading!” (Love’s Labour’s Lost)
9. “The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes.” (Coriolanus)
10. “Thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows.” (Troilus and Cressida)
And just because I love my dog: “I do wish thou were a dog, that I might love thee something.” (Timon of Athens)
Oh, the Shakespearean sting!
What are your favorite quotes from Shakespeare?