A Glossary to Combat the Glossing

I don’t know how many of you have read through Shakespeare and glossed over all the words you don’t know, but here’s where I can help a little. Not because of my own knowledge. Oh no. No, I’ve got this handy book that’ll give it to me so I can give it to you. Hopefully this will help in some of the Elizabethan Slang we all get lost in. Maybe joking about maids and maidenheads will be a little funnier to us now. … Probably not.

Abuse (N): Insult, error, offense, crime, deception
“Come, we’ll to sleep. My strange and self-abuse [Or self-deception]
Is the initiate fear that wants hard use:
We are yet but young in deed.
thanks! Ami” —Macbeth

Abuse (V): Deceive, misapply, maltreat
“Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse [wicked dreams misuse]” —Macbeth

Addition: Something added to one’s name to denote rank; mark of distinction; title
“A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-faking, whoreson, glass-gazing, superserviceable, finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch; one whom I will beat into clamorous whining if thou deny’st the least syllable of thy addition [title]” —King Lear

Admire: Wonder at
“Celerity is never more admired [or wondered at] than by the negligent”–Antony and Cleopatra

Affect: Aim at, aspire to, incline toward; be fond of; love
“No profit grows where is no pleasure ta’en. In brief, sir, study what you most affect.”–The Taming of the Shrew

Alarum (A word I’m certain none of us have ever heard before): Signal calling soldiers to arms (in stage directions) (Ah, and that is why. It’s a stage direction specifically meant for soldiers. We’ll keep that in mind for Macbeth)

Anon: At once, soon

[Within] Madam!

I come, anon“–Romeo and Juliet

Answer: Return, atone for; obey, agree with
“That I do beg his life, if it be sin,
Heaven let me bear it! you granting of my suit,
If that be sin, I’ll make it my morn prayer
To have it added to the faults of mine,
And nothing of your answer [atoning for].”Measure for Measure

Argument: Subject, theme, reason, cause; story; excuse
“You have heard of the news abroad; I mean the whisper’d ones, for they are yet but ear-kissing arguments? [Only talked about stories]”–King Lear

Assay: Try, attempt; address; challenge
“Why then tonight let us assay [challenge] our plot”–All’s Well That Ends Well

Atone: Reconcile; set at one
“I would do much to atone for them”–Othello

Attach: Arrest, seize
“Every man attach the hand of his fair mistress” —Love’s Labor’s Lost

Aweful, Awful: Commanding reverential fear or respect; profoundly respectful or reverential
“We come within our awful banks again”–King Henry IV


Woof. That’s a lot of glossarizing. Let’s stop for today, eh? A.


Here’s the Deal, Bill.

I love writing. Hopefully I’ll go off to grad school next year, get an MFA, and write contemporary fiction like Mark Haddon or Jonathan Safran-Foer. Who knows?

At the moment, however, I occupy most of my time writing, directing, and performing in the BYU Premier Sketch Comedy Troupe: Divine Comedy. We write short sketches and long parodies to perform three times a semester and it’s pretty much the best experience I’ve ever had so far in life.

Being in this group, I’ve come to look for comedy everywhere. Life is one big comedy, I think. Even the sad parts. Those are just darker comedy. (: So in this Shakespeare class, I have several goals:


I want to understand Shakespeare. I want to “get it.” I want to grasp the nuances, know the cultural and social implications he writes into his work, and feel what his audience felt when seeing it for the first time.

After grasping these things, I want to see how Shakespeare has translated into society today. Why are we still talking about him? Why do we make and remake and re-remake movies, plays, books, and poems after his work? I want to understand what everyone else understands about Shakespeare. Today.

Finally, I want to know why Shakespeare is funny. That’s the biggest goal that I’ll hopefully reach after moving through the first two motives. What makes his comedies comedies? What makes his jokes land? What makes his writing so close to life that people can recognize what he’s doing and say, “He gets it”?


These are my goals. Bear with me. It won’t be a straight road. But for now, let’s press forward.

Let’s Get One Thing Straight

I don’t like Shakespeare. Never have. He’s a pushy, attention-seeking “genius” who’s taken up far too much of my time as an English major. Yes, he was the inventor of many styles, words, and genres in literature and theatre. Congrats, Bill. I salute you for that. But could you please, give me back at least half of those hours from fourth grade to now when I could have studied Flannery O’Connor, Toni Morrison, George Orwell, Cormac McCarthy, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ray Bradbury, and even Roald Dahl? Especially Roald Dahl?! You’ve stolen that from me, Shakespeare. And I’ll never get it back.

But by gosh, so many people see something spectacular in Master Shakespeare. And he is a genius. So I’m going to put aside my biases and try to get to know the guy. Find a connection of my own.

I’m just saying right off the bat that for all of you who don’t delve into the sonnets and stuff, you’re not alone. And this blog is for you. (:

WordPress ate my eyeballs

I know I could have just made an account and written a post, but four hours later, I’ve looked at how to transfer an ftp code to personalize my theme, found out that IntenseDebate does not have to be installed in my inexistent plugins to track my comments and posts in WordPress, and decided that I will never attempt to use Filezilla again.

I am not the tech savvy person I thought I was.

So in lieu of the lively mindset I started this adventure with, I will say goodnight. And screw you, WordPress.

Screw you.

Artwork by Steven Thomas Vanoeveren