Essay on the Use of Profanity by William Shakespeare

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Use of Profanity by Shakespeare The evolution of written profanity began roughly in the sixteenth century, and continues to change with each generation that it sees. Profanity is recognized in many Shakespearean works, and has continually evolved into the profane language used today. Some cuss words have somehow maintained their original meanings throughout hundreds of years, while many others have completely changed meaning or simply fallen out of use. William Shakespeare, though it is not widely taught, was not a very clean writer. In fact, he was somewhat of a potty mouth. His works encompassed a lot of things that some people wish he had not. "That includes a fair helping of sex, violence, crime, horror, politics, religion, anti-authoritarianism, anti-semitism, racism, xenophobia, sexism, jealousy, profanity, satire, and controversy of all kinds" (Macrone 6). In his time, religious and moral curses were more offensive than biological curses. Most all original (before being censored) Shakespearean works contain very offensive profanity, mostly religious, which is probably one of many reasons that his works were and are so popular. "Shakespeare pushed a lot of buttons in his day- which is one reason he was so phenomenally popular. Despite what they tell you, people like having their buttons pushed" (Macrone 6). Because his works contained so many of these profane words or phrases, they were censored to protect the innocent minds of the teenagers who are required to read them, and also because they were blasphemous and offensive. Almost all of the profanity was removed, and that that was not had just reason for being there. Some of the Bard's censored oaths are; "God's blessing on your beard" Love's Labors Lost, II.i.203 This was a very rude curse because a man's facial hair was a point of pride for him. and "to play with someone's beard" was to insult him. "God's body" 1 Henry IV,II.i.26 Swearing by Christ's body, (or any part thereof,) was off limits in civil discourse. "God's Bod(y)kins, man" Hamlet, II.ii.529 The word bod(y)kin means "little body" or "dear body," but adding the cute little suffix does not make this curse any more acceptable. "By God's [blest] mother!" 2 Henry VI, II.i; 3 Henry VI, III.ii; Henry VIII, V.i Swearing by the virgin was almost as rude as swearing by her son, especially when addressing a catholic cathedral as Gloucester did in 2 Henry VI, II.

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