Thursday, April 4, 2013

Shakespearean Pun Fun

Puns are a form of word play which take advantage of words, or similar sounding words, with multiple meanings, often to create a humorous situation or joke. Puns can sometimes be created unintentionally, in which case the saying ‘no pun intended’ is used. Read on and check out some funny examples.

  • Let’s talk about rights and lefts. You’re right, so I left.

  • Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. 
  • When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds. 
  • A boiled egg every morning is hard to beat. 
  • Two fish are in a tank. One says to the other, “ how do you drive this thing?” 
  • I went to buy some camouflage trousers yesterday but couldn't find any.
  • I've been to the dentist many times so I know the drill. 
  • Being struck by lightning is a shocking experience!
  • Without geometry, life is pointless. 
  • A chicken crossing the road is truly poultry in motion.
  • The roundest knight at King Arthur’s table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from far too much pi.
  • I went to a seafood disco last week....and pulled a mussel.
  • She had a photographic memory but never developed it.

Puns and Shakespeare are like peas in a pod. Like other Elizabethans, Will delighted in playing with words and in making puns upon any occasion. In reading Shakespeare you must become alert to his clever use of words that have the same sound but different meanings. For he uses not only puns to make us smile and laugh, but also to make us see interesting relationships between quite separate things.
In the following exercises the punning words are in italics. See if you can find two  or more meanings for each italicized. (You may have to look up some words to find an old meaning that makes part of the pun.)
The lines in the sample quotation are taken from a funeral song for a dead princess, young and beautiful. Shakespeare compares the death of the princess to the death of a poor chimney sweep who was kept small and underfed by a cruel master so that the sweep could wriggle into the narrow brick chimneys of the city of London to clean them.
Example:   Golden lads and girls all must,
                  As chimney sweepers, come to dust
                  Rich people, like all others, die and become dust.
                  Chimney sweeps come to dust out the chimneys.
1. Armando: I do adore thy sweet Grace’s slipper.
    Boyet:(Aside) Loves her by the foot.[Love’s Labor’s Lost]

2. Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man. [Romeo and Juliet]

3.The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve. 
[ A Midsummer Night’s Dream]

4. What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds
[ Romeo and Juliet ]

5. Had I as many sons as I have hairs,
    I would not wish them to a fairer death. [Macbeth]

6. And as many lies as will lie in thy sheet of paper.  
[ Twelfth Night ]

7. A trade, sir, that I hope may use with safe conscience, which is indeed, sir, a mender of bad soles.                                                    [ Julius Caesar ]

Find three other puns online, or maybe you know some of your own?. Write them down and share them in class.


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  2. People make too many Harry Potter jokes. Like siriusly.

    Whale, Whale, Whale, What do we have here?


  3. Did you hear about the guy who got his left side cut off? He's alright now.


  4. The experienced carpenter really nailed it, but the next guy screwed everything up.


  5. I'm glad I know sign language; it's pretty handy.

    To write with a broken pencil is pointless.

    Math teachers have lots of problems.


  6. Did you hear about the guy who got his left side cut off? He's alright now.

    The baseball was getting bigger and bigger. Then it hit me.

    Atheism is a non-prophet organization.


  7. Let's make like a bread truck and haul buns.

    I used to have a fear of hurdles, but I got over it.


  8. An elephant's opinion carries a lot of weight.

    Don't justify sin. Just defy sin.

    A backwards poet writes in-verse.


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  10. Did you hear about the guy who's left arm was cut off, well he is all right now

    I used to have a fear of hurdles but I got over it

    I tried to put on tight jeans, but I couldn't pull it off

  11. 1. I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

    2. Pencil sharpeners have a tough life - they live off tips