7 Filthy Jokes You Didn't Notice in Shakespeare

#3. Venus and Adonis -- Venus Commands Adonis to Go "Downstairs"

Annibale Carracci

In addition to scribbling out plays laced with innuendo, Shakespeare would occasionally write poetry, also laced with innuendo. His poem Venus and Adonis, about the goddess of beauty falling in love with the sexiest man on the planet, reads more like one of Shakespeare's Red Shoe Diaries than something you'd find in a literary textbook. Check out this line, when Venus is speaking to Adonis:

Graze on my lips, and if those hills be dry
Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie.

Pieter Borsseler
"STAGE NOTE: VENUS should immediately turn to the audience and start flicking her tongue whilst pelvic thrusting."

Yep. She's talking about country matters. Venus is essentially saying, "We can make out for a bit, but then it's time to go downtown."

Francois Lemoyne
"And none of this 'I owe you one' bullshit."

Being a goddess and all, she pretty much has her way with Adonis like this for most of the poem, until he gets killed by a boar. It's something you would write in a feverish state of bitter, premasturbatory frenzy if you had a really extensive vocabulary.

#2. Twelfth Night -- Shakespeare Sneaks the Word "Cunt" into Dialogue

Johann Heinrich Ramberg

Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, recently rediscovered by archaeologists in a discount-bin excavation of an ancient Blockbuster as She's the Man starring Amanda Bynes, is about a shipwrecked woman named Viola pretending to be a man for the purposes of hilarious comedy.

William Hamilton/Theatre Royal, Bath
Like Tracey Ullman, but funny.

A good deal of the play is devoted to a completely inconsequential subplot wherein several ancillary characters play an elaborate practical joke on a stuffy old butler named Malvolio by presenting him with a forged love note from the young lady of his house:

By my life, this is my lady's hand, these be her
very C's, her U's, and her T's, and thus makes she her
great P's. It is, in contempt of question, her hand.

Henry Andrews/Theatre Royal, Bath
"Alas, later tonight, the hand in use shall be my own."

Shakespeare was fond of all types of puns -- literal puns ("This ghost has made a grave mistake!"), visual puns, and wordplay that required the dialogue to be spoken aloud for the joke to make sense. Malvolio's line here is an example of that last type -- when the line is performed, it would sound phonetically like this:

"These be her very C's, her U's, 'n' her T's."

The stuffy old butler spells out "cunt" onstage, and immediately follows it by (phonetically) saying "and thus makes she her great pees." Essentially, Malvolio is telling everyone, "This is unquestionably my lady's vagina, with which she makes giant toilet."

Daniel Maclise/Tate
"And somehow you're still single?"

There are also some vague masturbation jokes hidden in there, as Malvolio makes it a point to emphasize that "my lady's hand" is responsible for making those C's, U's, and T's end with a great gushing P.

#1. Sonnet 151 -- Shakespeare Writes a Poem About His Boner

John Taylor/National Portrait Gallery, London

Sonnets in the 13th and 14th centuries were traditionally short 14-line odes to beautiful women. When Shakespeare came along, he stayed mostly faithful to that tradition, writing numerous sonnets about his love for gorgeous females. However, he would occasionally shift the focus of the narrative over to his bonerific wang, as seen in this excerpt from Sonnet 151:

My soul doth tell my body that he may
Triumph in love: flesh stays no further reason
But rising at thy name doth point out thee
As his triumphant prize.

Gerard Soest/Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
"It's the thinking man's 'Dick in a Box.'"

He literally says that his body "rises" at the sound of a girl's name and "points" to her. That is, his fully erect man saber is courageously battling against the laces of his breeches to leer at her through a wall of fabric like the ghost from The Frighteners. The undeniable DTF-ness of Sonnet 151 (and many of his sonnets in general) has frequently been used as a counterargument to the theory that Shakespeare was gay, second only to the sobering rejoinders "Who gives a shit?" and "What difference does it make?"

Regardless, Sonnet 151 makes it pretty clear that on this particular day, the bard really wanted to dip his quill in some lady's inkwell.

Richard Westall/Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
"Come now, ladies. You can't leave Willie Shakes shaking his willie."

Related Reading: For more Shakespearean insanity- including random-ass bear attacks- click here. And did you know that old Willy S invented many of the words we use every day? We owe eyeball, puking, alligator and many more to the author of Hamlet! Finish your bard binge by reading Swaim's argument for why Shakespeare would write for Cracked.com if he lived today.

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