Insulting Shakespeare?

May 25, 2011

This from Sharon Lewis:

“Few have ever matched the epic power and grace of the insult like Shakespeare. Whether you’re pursuing a degree in drama, English or just can’t get enough of the Bard, it can be enlightening and entertaining to learn a few of the barbs that pepper these Elizabethan classics. Here are a few of the best, bawdiest and most vicious of Shakespeare’s insults you can hurl at those around you or use for a good literary laugh.”

  1. “You should be women and yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so.” from Macbeth. Shakespeare uses this line to showcase just how unattractive the witches in the story truly are, withered, wrinkled and apparently quite hairy. So unattractive are they, that both Macbeth and Banquo jokingly question whether they are really human at all.
  2. “There’s small choice in rotten apples.” from Taming of the Shrew. Here’s a Shakespearean gem that you can apply to contemporary life. Keep it in mind the next time you have to vote in an election or are trying to pick a favorite reality TV star.
  3. “Methink thou art a general offence, and every man should beat thee. I think thou wast created for men to breathe themselves upon you.” from All’s Well That Ends Well. This harsh criticism is doled out on Porolles by Lafeu in this Shakespearean tragi-comedy, perhaps justly so because he is a bit of a scoundrel. You might know a certain someone in your life who could quite aptly be applied to this quote.
  4. “I desire that we be better strangers.” from As You Like It. This polite little barb is the perfect way to suggest that you spend less time together, as Orlando and Jaques would like to do in this play. The interplay between them, with insults firing back and forth, is well worth a read for any literature lover.
  5. “Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood.” from King Lear. Well, tell us how you really feel King Lear! Oddly enough, after calling his daughter a disease and a boil, he tells her he will not chide her. Though one has to wonder what he considers the words he just said.

Read fifteen more here:

20 Epic Shakespeare Insults Every Drama Geek Should Know


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