Tuesday, April 23, 2013

In which I celebrate Shakespeare's birthday with my favorite put-downs

Today, April 23rd, is Shakespeare's birthday. And, coincidentally, the day he died, too (if this page came up while you were researching a term paper, you will want to know that). Because this is as good a way as any to celebrate the great man, let's take a look at the one way in which you may be able to squeeze a bit of Shakespearean dialogue into your daily discourse: by using a put-down from one of the plays. Without much ado, here are my favorites: 
Measure For Measure:Thou art a flesh-monger, a fool and a coward
Henry IV Part 2:You scullion! You rampallian! You fustilarian! I’ll tickle your catastrophe!
All’s Well That Ends Well:A most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise breaker, the owner of no one good quality. 
Henry IV Part 1:That trunk of humours, that bolting-hutch of beastliness, that swollen parcel of dropsies, that huge bombard of sack, that stuffed cloak-bag of guts, that roasted Manningtree ox with pudding in his belly, that reverend vice, that grey Iniquity, that father ruffian, that vanity in years? 
Henry V:There’s no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune.
As You Like It: Your brain is as dry as the remainder biscuit after voyage. 
Measure For Measure: Thy sin’s not accidental, but a trade.
Cymbeline: All the fiends of hell divide themselves between you.
Henry IV Part 1: There's no room for faith, truth, nor honesty in this bosom of thine. It is all filled up with guts and midriff.
If you can't think of a way to use one of the more flowery quotes, consider it a challenge to squeeze "As fat as butter" into an insult today. That's another gem from Henry IV part 1, which contains a ton of really great jabs; that's the play in which Falstaff and Prince Hal spend much of their scenes together verbally sparring. Of all the plays, it is my favorite, and I urge you to either read it or check out the stunning BBC film adaptation as part of its recent The Hollow Crown series.

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