The New York Times brings us this fun article on the history of swearing. Yes, of course Shakespeare is in it. And not just for the occasional “Zounds!” I never knew that Much Ado About Nothing is a dirty joke.
I remember reading Taming of a Shrew in 9th grade high school. There’s a line between Petruchio and Kate, near the beginning, where they are bantering back and forth. At one point she calls him a 3-legged stool and he says “Thou hast hit on it, come sit on me” or something like that. I always figured that was about as filthy as I thought it was. Later in that same conversation when they’re doing some punning on wasps and stings, Petruchio gets a chance to say (on the subject of leaving) “What, with my tongue in your tail?” I mean, good lord. I’d hate to be the English teacher trying to explain why that scene is funnier that the students think it is.
And let’s not even get started on the Nurse from Romeo and Juliet. She talks like a trucker. Does thou fall upon thy face? Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit!