Yesterday my Shakespeare class had some fun with Shakespearean insults. While none of our children would ever think…of course they wouldn’t…. of being insulting, this exercise provides an excuse to be silly and insulting. (Our rule at our house is that for a comment to be funny it must be funny to EVERYONE. This exercise produced a lot of giggles, as it should. Only you know your kids, or the group you will be working with, so provide some guidelines if you feel there is a chance the exercise could become mean-spirited. That is certainly not the intent and should not be allowed.)
First, I had two of our more dramatic students take some index cards with insults from the play we are currently working on, A Midsummer’s Nights Dream, and hurl them at each other. This had everyone laughing. Then I gave everyone an index card with various insults from lots of plays and we tossed around a haki sack (Thanks Stevie) When a student caught the haki sack they needed to insult the person, using the provided insults, that tossed the ball to them. They got into the exercise and were quite insulting. We had a few moments of concern because one of the insults included the word ‘whoreson’ (which you could obviously skip) and the student who got this one said he wasn’t comfortable insulting anyones mother.
After playing with Shakespeare’s insults for a bit the kids sat down to write some of their own…sounding Shakespearean of course. Now we have students from about 9 years old through High School so there was a wide variety of results. Below I’ve given you some Shakespearean insults and some my students made up. If you decide to try this exercise with younger kids pick some of the more obvious insults as some of Shakespeare’s language can be confusing…or google the words that baffle you. There are many great Shakespeare sites on the net that can offer explanations.
Before having students write their own insults explain that Shakespeare was known for making up words when he didn’t have one that worked for him. (Knotgrass for instance, although I found this one in the dictionary I didn’t need to know what it was to know I didn’t want someone to call me that.) Generally, the context and sound of the word makes clear it’s intended meaning. Allow (or encourage) students to do the same.
Go thou and fill another room in hell. King Richard
Let vultures gripe thy guts! Merry Wives of Windsor
Vile worm, Thou was o’erlooked even in thy birth. Merry Wives of Windsor
You, minion, are too saucy. Two Gentlemen of Verona
You juggler, you cankerblossom, you thief of love! A MIdsummer Nights dream
A pox o’ your throat, you bawling, blasphemous, incharitable dog! The Tempest
Come: you are a tedious fool. Measure for Measure
What, you egg! Young fry of treachery! Macbeth
Why you bald-pated, lying rascal. Measure for Measure
Out of my door, you witch, you rag, you baggage, you runnion. A Midsummer Nights Dream
Get you gone, you dwarf: You minimus of hindering knotgrass. A MIdsummer Nights Dream
Die, you hideous baboon! You lowly parisite!
You hast earned a royal room in hell, and shall tend to the royal king.
Thoust are nothing, a slave, in comparison to me.
You blueberry stock stealer!
Thou dirty pig-wench. The hogs wouldst welcome thee with they slanderous, sneaky, conniving ways into their muck pen.
Thou breath smells of heated dung.
You blasphemer of all decent things. You sniverous serpent. I entreat thee to swallow thine own forked tongue and rid thyself of our kind world.
Thou hast the brain of a city rat, and thoust also hast the courage of a chicken and thoust smells like it too. (this one is by a 9 year old)
This one requires the knowledge that one of our local high schools is Paloma and the student who wrote this father helps coach basketball at the rival high school…Perris.
Thine empty existence, be more lacking in purpose than a talent scout at Paloma.
I have many more, but you get the idea. So have fun insulting everyone.