Insults & Iambic Pentameter

Insults & Iambic Pentameter

Insults & Iambic Pentameter


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Shakespeare's Recipe for Insults

To construct a Shakespearean insult, combine one word from each of the three columns below, and

preface it with "Thou." (And you thought the comments on your papers were bad!)

Column 1 Column 2 Column 3

artless base-court apple-john

bawdy bat-fowling baggage

beslubbering beef-witted barnacle

bootless beetle-headed bladder

churlish boil-brained boar-pig

cockered clapper-clawed bugbear

clouted clay-brained bum-bailey

craven common-kissing canker-blossom

currish crook-pated clack-dish

dankish dismal-dreaming clotpole

dissembling dizzy-eyed coxcomb

droning doghearted codpiece

errant dread-bolted death-token

fawning earth-vexing dewberry

fobbing elf-skinned flap-dragon

froward fat-kidneyed flax-wench

frothy fen-sucked flirt-gill

gleeking flap-mouthed foot-licker

goatish fly-bitten fustilarian

gorbellied folly-fallen giglet

impertinent fool-born gudgeon

infectious full-gorged haggard

jarring guts-griping harpy

loggerheaded half-faced hedge-pig

lumpish hasty-witted horn-beast

mammering hedge-born hugger-mugger

mangled hell-hated joithead

mewling idle-headed lewdster

paunchy ill-breeding lout

pribbling ill-nurtured maggot-pie

puking knotty-pated malt-worm

puny milk-livered mammet

qualling motley-minded measle

ank onion-eyed minnow

reeky plume-plucked miscreant

roguish pottle-deep moldwarp

ruttish pox-marked mumble-news

saucy reeling-ripe nut-hook

spleeny rough-hewn pigeon-egg

spongy rude-growing pignut

surly rump-fed puttock

tottering shard-borne pumpion

unmuzzled sheep-biting ratsbane

vain spur-galled scut

venomed swag-bellied skainsmate

villainous tardy-gaited strumpet

warped tickle-brained varlet

wayward toad-spotted vassal

weedy unchin-snouted whey-face

yeasty weather-bitten wagtail

Get thee gone, thou wayward rump-fed pumpion, and make thine insults!

Copyright © 2001 by The Folger Shakespeare Library

"I am a pirate with a wooden leg": Stomping Iambic


January 2005

Gregory Taylor teaches English at Hillside Junior High School in Boise, Idaho.

This lesson may be used before reading any Shakespeare play or sonnet.

Click here to view standards used in this lesson plan.

Title page detail, Newes from sea, 1609 (anonymous).Students will learn the basics of iambic

pentameter by studying the rhythm of blank verse orally, aurally, visually, and kinesthetically.

This lesson will take one class period.

1. Using the attached document as an overhead template, review the idea of meter. Be sure to explain

the idea of "feet", the smallest repeating ryhthmic units (in Shakespeare's case, the iamb is the metrical

foot.) Also teach the word "iamb", a foot of two syllables with an unstressed syllable followed by a

stressed syllable.

2. Introduce the term "iambic pentameter". Have the students puzzle out the meaning through

morphological analysis of the component parts "meter", "iambic" and "penta" - a five foot metrical line

of weak followed by strong syllables.

3. Have students repeat a line of five "I am"'s with the emphasis on the "am" syllable. Explain that this is

one way to remember the iambic rhythm. Practice saying some sentences that begin with "I AM" in a

weak-STRONG pattern: "I AM a great student; I AM going to be nice to my little brother."

4. To really feel the iambic rhythm, get students up on their feet and say the next line, "I am a pirate

with a wooden leg," dragging their wooden legs on the unstressed syllables and stepping strongly on

the stressed syllables. Have students draw parentheses around the iambs and note that some divide in

the middle of words: meter is about sound, not spelling.

5. Have students read some lines from the play you will be reading.

6. Finally, have students write their own iambic pentameter lines in pairs, as a conversation. Use the

last two sentences on the handout as an example. After a few minutes, have some of the pairs perform

their conversations. Be sure they understand how the meter works in this blank verse.

Can students explain and demonstrate iambic pentameter? Can they write proper lines of blank verse?

Can they begin to see and understand some of the uses of meter in Shakespeare's writing?

Tickling the Brain


January 1999

Jeff Schober teaches at the Baker Road Alternative School in a suburb of Buffalo, New York. The

school has approximately 80 at-risk students, grades 9-12, and few go on to higher education. Mr.

Schober teaches American history and Shakespeare and co-authored a book about the Buffalo Sabres.

This activity is an introduction and overview of the action in Much Ado About Nothing.

Click here to view standards used in this lesson plan.

Ursula, "She's lim'd, I warrant you."; Henry Fuseli, 1803, engraving.Today students will improvise a few

scenarios which relate to the plot of Much Ado About Nothing. They should have no previous

knowledge of the playóthey have not read any scenes or learned character names. This activity will

force them to think about broad happenings they will read about, so when they begin the play they will

have a base of expectations. This activity should be completed in one 40-minute period.

1. Divide students into groups of four or five. Each group will be called to the front of the room and

asked to improvise one of the following scenarios written on the board:

A) Two people of the opposite sex, A and B, dislike one another and are constantly bickering. Show

them taunting one another, then have B leave. Some friends enter. Have the friends convince A that B

is really attracted to A. Deal with the matter of whether A believes them and why he (or she) would.

B) A different couple, X and Y, are very much in love. Create a scenario showing their affection for

one another. Have X leave and friends enter. The friends have to do something to cause Y to want to

break up with X.

2. Play this improvisation game as many times as necessary, depending on the number of groups you


3. When everyone has had a chance to act, write the names of two students who played A and B on

the board. Have students copy this into their notebooks, then cross out the students' names and write

Beatrice and Benedick. Do the same thing for X and Y, crossing out the students' names and inserting

Hero and Claudio.

4. In the remaining class time have the students copy the scenarios into their notebooks. Their

homework is to write a one-page fictional story which addresses one of the scenarios.

5. Collect the homework at the start of the next class period, distribute copies of the character map

for Much Ado About Nothing included in the handout section below, and hand out copies of the play.

Did students understand the scenarios they were asked to improvise? If they asked pointed questions

which went beyond the material you covered, this is a good indication that the activity has triggered

their brain. A true measure of how the lesson went should be reflected in their written assignment.

Ideally they will be creative while still following the plot discussed in class.


Copyright © 2001 by The Folger Shakespeare Library

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