full transcript

From the Ted Talk by April Gudenrath: Insults by Shakespeare

Unscramble the Blue Letters

Why do we crnige when we hear "Shakespeare?" If you ask me, it's usually because of his words. All those thines and thous and therefores and wherefore-art-thous can be more than a little annoying. But you have to wonder, why is he so poaulpr? Why have his pyals been made and readme more than any other playwright? It's because of his words. Back in the late 1500s and early 1600s, that was the best tool that a person had, and there was a lot to talk about. However, most of it was pretty depressing. You know, with the Black Plague and all. Shakespeare does use a lot of words. One of his most impressive accomplishments is his use of insults. They would unify the enirte audience; and no mteatr where you sat, you could laugh at what was going on onstage. wodrs, specifically dagloiue in a dmara setting, are used for many different reasons: to set the mood of the scene, to give some more atmosphere to the setting, and to develop relationships between characters. iltusns do this in a very short and sharp way. Let's first go to "Hamlet." Right before this dialogue, Polonius is the father of Ophelia, who is in love with Prince Hamlet. King cuaidlus is trying to figure out why Prince Hamlet is acting so crazy since the king meirrad Prince Hamlet's mother. Polonius offers to use his daughter to get information from Prince Hamlet. Then we go into Act II Scene 2. Polonius: "Do you know me, my lord?" Hamlet: "Excellent well. You're a fishmonger." Polonius: "Not I, my lord." Hamlet: "Then I would you were so honest a man." Now, even if you did not know what "fishmonger" meant, you can use some contextual clues. One: Polonius reacted in a negative way, so it must be bad. Two: Fish smell bad, so it must be bad. And three: "monger" just doesn't sound like a good word. So from not even knowing the meaning, you're beginning to construct some characterization of the relationship between Hamlet and Polonius, which was not good. But if you dig some more, "fishmonger" means a broker of some type, and in this sniettg, would mean like a pimp, like poonilus is brokering out his daughter for money, which he is doing for the king's favor. This allows you to see that Hamlet is not as crazy as he's claiming to be, and iteeiinfnss the animosity between these two characters. Want another example? "Romeo and Juliet" has some of the best insults of any of Shakespeare's plays. It's a play about two gangs, and the star-crossed lovers that take their own lives. Well, with any fisticuffs you know that there is some serious smack talk going on. And you are not dspepnoaitid. In Act I Scene 1, right from the get-go we are shown the lveel of distrust and hatred the members of the two families, the cpatelus and Montagues, meet. Gregory: "I will frown as I pass by, and let them take it as they list." Sampson: "Nay, as they dare, I will bite my thumb at them, which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it." eentr Abraham and Balthasar. Abraham: "Do you bite your tmhub at us, sir?" Sampson: "I do bite my thumb, sir." Abraham: "Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?" Okay, so how does this development help us understand mood or character? Well, let's break it down to the insult. Biting your thumb today may not seem like a big deal, but Sampson says it is an inulst to them. If they take it so, it must have been one. This begins to show us the level of animosity between even the men who work for the two Houses. And you normally would not do anything to someone unless you wanted to provoke them into a fight, which is exactly what's about to hpeapn. Looking deeper, biting your thumb in the time in which the play was written is like giving someone the fgneir today. A pettry strong feeling comes with that, so we now are beginning to feel the tension in the scnee. Later on in the scene, Tybalt, from the House of the Capulets, lays a good one on Benvolio from the House of the Montagues. Tybalt: "What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds? Turn thee, Benvolio, and look upon thy detah." Benvolio: "I do but keep the peace; put up thy srowd, or magnae it to part these men with me." Tybalt: "What, dwarn and talk of peace! I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee. Have at thee, coward!" Okay, heartless hinds. We know that once again, it's not a good thing. Both families hate each other, and this is just adding fuel to the fire. But just how bad is this stinger? A heartless hind is a coward, and calling someone that in front of his own men, and the rvail family, means there's going to be a fight. Tybalt basically calls out bvileono, and in oedrr to keep his honor, Benvolio has to fhigt. This dialogue gives us a good look at the chocrrttaaizeain between these two characters. Tybalt thknis that the Montagues are nothing but cowardly dogs, and has no respect for them. Once again, adding dramatic tension to the scene. Okay, now here's a spoiler alert. Tybalt's hotheadedness and srveee hatred of the Montagues is what we literature polpee call his htmraaia, or what causes his downfall. Oh, yes. He goes down at the hands of roemo. So when you're looking at Shakespeare, stop and look at the words, because they really are trying to tell you something.

Open Cloze

Why do we ______ when we hear "Shakespeare?" If you ask me, it's usually because of his words. All those thines and thous and therefores and wherefore-art-thous can be more than a little annoying. But you have to wonder, why is he so _______? Why have his _____ been made and ______ more than any other playwright? It's because of his words. Back in the late 1500s and early 1600s, that was the best tool that a person had, and there was a lot to talk about. However, most of it was pretty depressing. You know, with the Black Plague and all. Shakespeare does use a lot of words. One of his most impressive accomplishments is his use of insults. They would unify the ______ audience; and no ______ where you sat, you could laugh at what was going on onstage. _____, specifically ________ in a _____ setting, are used for many different reasons: to set the mood of the scene, to give some more atmosphere to the setting, and to develop relationships between characters. _______ do this in a very short and sharp way. Let's first go to "Hamlet." Right before this dialogue, Polonius is the father of Ophelia, who is in love with Prince Hamlet. King ________ is trying to figure out why Prince Hamlet is acting so crazy since the king _______ Prince Hamlet's mother. Polonius offers to use his daughter to get information from Prince Hamlet. Then we go into Act II Scene 2. Polonius: "Do you know me, my lord?" Hamlet: "Excellent well. You're a fishmonger." Polonius: "Not I, my lord." Hamlet: "Then I would you were so honest a man." Now, even if you did not know what "fishmonger" meant, you can use some contextual clues. One: Polonius reacted in a negative way, so it must be bad. Two: Fish smell bad, so it must be bad. And three: "monger" just doesn't sound like a good word. So from not even knowing the meaning, you're beginning to construct some characterization of the relationship between Hamlet and Polonius, which was not good. But if you dig some more, "fishmonger" means a broker of some type, and in this _______, would mean like a pimp, like ________ is brokering out his daughter for money, which he is doing for the king's favor. This allows you to see that Hamlet is not as crazy as he's claiming to be, and ___________ the animosity between these two characters. Want another example? "Romeo and Juliet" has some of the best insults of any of Shakespeare's plays. It's a play about two gangs, and the star-crossed lovers that take their own lives. Well, with any fisticuffs you know that there is some serious smack talk going on. And you are not ____________. In Act I Scene 1, right from the get-go we are shown the _____ of distrust and hatred the members of the two families, the ________ and Montagues, meet. Gregory: "I will frown as I pass by, and let them take it as they list." Sampson: "Nay, as they dare, I will bite my thumb at them, which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it." _____ Abraham and Balthasar. Abraham: "Do you bite your _____ at us, sir?" Sampson: "I do bite my thumb, sir." Abraham: "Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?" Okay, so how does this development help us understand mood or character? Well, let's break it down to the insult. Biting your thumb today may not seem like a big deal, but Sampson says it is an ______ to them. If they take it so, it must have been one. This begins to show us the level of animosity between even the men who work for the two Houses. And you normally would not do anything to someone unless you wanted to provoke them into a fight, which is exactly what's about to ______. Looking deeper, biting your thumb in the time in which the play was written is like giving someone the ______ today. A ______ strong feeling comes with that, so we now are beginning to feel the tension in the _____. Later on in the scene, Tybalt, from the House of the Capulets, lays a good one on Benvolio from the House of the Montagues. Tybalt: "What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds? Turn thee, Benvolio, and look upon thy _____." Benvolio: "I do but keep the peace; put up thy _____, or ______ it to part these men with me." Tybalt: "What, _____ and talk of peace! I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee. Have at thee, coward!" Okay, heartless hinds. We know that once again, it's not a good thing. Both families hate each other, and this is just adding fuel to the fire. But just how bad is this stinger? A heartless hind is a coward, and calling someone that in front of his own men, and the _____ family, means there's going to be a fight. Tybalt basically calls out ________, and in _____ to keep his honor, Benvolio has to _____. This dialogue gives us a good look at the ________________ between these two characters. Tybalt ______ that the Montagues are nothing but cowardly dogs, and has no respect for them. Once again, adding dramatic tension to the scene. Okay, now here's a spoiler alert. Tybalt's hotheadedness and ______ hatred of the Montagues is what we literature ______ call his ________, or what causes his downfall. Oh, yes. He goes down at the hands of _____. So when you're looking at Shakespeare, stop and look at the words, because they really are trying to tell you something.

Solution

  1. polonius
  2. claudius
  3. dialogue
  4. pretty
  5. order
  6. matter
  7. capulets
  8. level
  9. insults
  10. enter
  11. people
  12. characterization
  13. severe
  14. hamartia
  15. remade
  16. thinks
  17. married
  18. fight
  19. drama
  20. disappointed
  21. rival
  22. thumb
  23. intensifies
  24. words
  25. cringe
  26. scene
  27. finger
  28. manage
  29. popular
  30. entire
  31. happen
  32. setting
  33. romeo
  34. drawn
  35. plays
  36. insult
  37. benvolio
  38. death
  39. sword

Original Text

Why do we cringe when we hear "Shakespeare?" If you ask me, it's usually because of his words. All those thines and thous and therefores and wherefore-art-thous can be more than a little annoying. But you have to wonder, why is he so popular? Why have his plays been made and remade more than any other playwright? It's because of his words. Back in the late 1500s and early 1600s, that was the best tool that a person had, and there was a lot to talk about. However, most of it was pretty depressing. You know, with the Black Plague and all. Shakespeare does use a lot of words. One of his most impressive accomplishments is his use of insults. They would unify the entire audience; and no matter where you sat, you could laugh at what was going on onstage. Words, specifically dialogue in a drama setting, are used for many different reasons: to set the mood of the scene, to give some more atmosphere to the setting, and to develop relationships between characters. Insults do this in a very short and sharp way. Let's first go to "Hamlet." Right before this dialogue, Polonius is the father of Ophelia, who is in love with Prince Hamlet. King Claudius is trying to figure out why Prince Hamlet is acting so crazy since the king married Prince Hamlet's mother. Polonius offers to use his daughter to get information from Prince Hamlet. Then we go into Act II Scene 2. Polonius: "Do you know me, my lord?" Hamlet: "Excellent well. You're a fishmonger." Polonius: "Not I, my lord." Hamlet: "Then I would you were so honest a man." Now, even if you did not know what "fishmonger" meant, you can use some contextual clues. One: Polonius reacted in a negative way, so it must be bad. Two: Fish smell bad, so it must be bad. And three: "monger" just doesn't sound like a good word. So from not even knowing the meaning, you're beginning to construct some characterization of the relationship between Hamlet and Polonius, which was not good. But if you dig some more, "fishmonger" means a broker of some type, and in this setting, would mean like a pimp, like Polonius is brokering out his daughter for money, which he is doing for the king's favor. This allows you to see that Hamlet is not as crazy as he's claiming to be, and intensifies the animosity between these two characters. Want another example? "Romeo and Juliet" has some of the best insults of any of Shakespeare's plays. It's a play about two gangs, and the star-crossed lovers that take their own lives. Well, with any fisticuffs you know that there is some serious smack talk going on. And you are not disappointed. In Act I Scene 1, right from the get-go we are shown the level of distrust and hatred the members of the two families, the Capulets and Montagues, meet. Gregory: "I will frown as I pass by, and let them take it as they list." Sampson: "Nay, as they dare, I will bite my thumb at them, which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it." Enter Abraham and Balthasar. Abraham: "Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?" Sampson: "I do bite my thumb, sir." Abraham: "Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?" Okay, so how does this development help us understand mood or character? Well, let's break it down to the insult. Biting your thumb today may not seem like a big deal, but Sampson says it is an insult to them. If they take it so, it must have been one. This begins to show us the level of animosity between even the men who work for the two Houses. And you normally would not do anything to someone unless you wanted to provoke them into a fight, which is exactly what's about to happen. Looking deeper, biting your thumb in the time in which the play was written is like giving someone the finger today. A pretty strong feeling comes with that, so we now are beginning to feel the tension in the scene. Later on in the scene, Tybalt, from the House of the Capulets, lays a good one on Benvolio from the House of the Montagues. Tybalt: "What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds? Turn thee, Benvolio, and look upon thy death." Benvolio: "I do but keep the peace; put up thy sword, or manage it to part these men with me." Tybalt: "What, drawn and talk of peace! I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee. Have at thee, coward!" Okay, heartless hinds. We know that once again, it's not a good thing. Both families hate each other, and this is just adding fuel to the fire. But just how bad is this stinger? A heartless hind is a coward, and calling someone that in front of his own men, and the rival family, means there's going to be a fight. Tybalt basically calls out Benvolio, and in order to keep his honor, Benvolio has to fight. This dialogue gives us a good look at the characterization between these two characters. Tybalt thinks that the Montagues are nothing but cowardly dogs, and has no respect for them. Once again, adding dramatic tension to the scene. Okay, now here's a spoiler alert. Tybalt's hotheadedness and severe hatred of the Montagues is what we literature people call his hamartia, or what causes his downfall. Oh, yes. He goes down at the hands of Romeo. So when you're looking at Shakespeare, stop and look at the words, because they really are trying to tell you something.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
prince hamlet 3

Important Words

  1. abraham
  2. accomplishments
  3. act
  4. acting
  5. adding
  6. alert
  7. animosity
  8. annoying
  9. art
  10. atmosphere
  11. bad
  12. balthasar
  13. basically
  14. bear
  15. beginning
  16. begins
  17. benvolio
  18. big
  19. bite
  20. biting
  21. black
  22. break
  23. broker
  24. brokering
  25. call
  26. calling
  27. calls
  28. capulets
  29. character
  30. characterization
  31. characters
  32. claiming
  33. claudius
  34. clues
  35. construct
  36. contextual
  37. coward
  38. cowardly
  39. crazy
  40. cringe
  41. daughter
  42. deal
  43. death
  44. deeper
  45. depressing
  46. develop
  47. development
  48. dialogue
  49. dig
  50. disappointed
  51. disgrace
  52. distrust
  53. dogs
  54. downfall
  55. drama
  56. dramatic
  57. drawn
  58. early
  59. enter
  60. entire
  61. families
  62. family
  63. father
  64. favor
  65. feel
  66. feeling
  67. fight
  68. figure
  69. finger
  70. fire
  71. fish
  72. fishmonger
  73. fisticuffs
  74. front
  75. frown
  76. fuel
  77. gangs
  78. give
  79. giving
  80. good
  81. hamartia
  82. hamlet
  83. hands
  84. happen
  85. hate
  86. hatred
  87. hear
  88. heartless
  89. hell
  90. hind
  91. hinds
  92. honest
  93. honor
  94. hotheadedness
  95. house
  96. houses
  97. ii
  98. impressive
  99. information
  100. insult
  101. insults
  102. intensifies
  103. king
  104. knowing
  105. late
  106. laugh
  107. lays
  108. level
  109. list
  110. literature
  111. lives
  112. lord
  113. lot
  114. love
  115. lovers
  116. man
  117. manage
  118. married
  119. matter
  120. meaning
  121. means
  122. meant
  123. meet
  124. members
  125. men
  126. money
  127. montagues
  128. mood
  129. mother
  130. negative
  131. offers
  132. onstage
  133. ophelia
  134. order
  135. part
  136. pass
  137. people
  138. person
  139. pimp
  140. plague
  141. play
  142. plays
  143. playwright
  144. polonius
  145. popular
  146. pretty
  147. prince
  148. provoke
  149. put
  150. reacted
  151. relationship
  152. relationships
  153. remade
  154. respect
  155. rival
  156. romeo
  157. sampson
  158. sat
  159. scene
  160. set
  161. setting
  162. severe
  163. shakespeare
  164. sharp
  165. short
  166. show
  167. shown
  168. sir
  169. smack
  170. smell
  171. sound
  172. specifically
  173. spoiler
  174. stinger
  175. stop
  176. strong
  177. sword
  178. talk
  179. tension
  180. thee
  181. therefores
  182. thines
  183. thinks
  184. thou
  185. thous
  186. thumb
  187. thy
  188. time
  189. today
  190. tool
  191. turn
  192. tybalt
  193. type
  194. understand
  195. unify
  196. wanted
  197. word
  198. words
  199. work
  200. written