Shakespeare’s 10 trigger warnings the puritans haven’t thought of yet

Sir John Falstaff is pitiful. The Royal Shakespeare Company has found that Prince Hal’s well-padded companion is the victim of “physical bullying” in its new production of The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Falstaff is one of the Bard’s most controversial characters as he hangs out in dirty pubs with disrespectful people and embezzles funds for the army, among many other misdemeanors – but even the fat knight must be protected by a trigger warning. It is not clear how many people have been guilty of his jokes over the past 400 years.

It is just the latest example of modern productions warning of Shakespeare’s more problematic writings. Shakespeare’s Globe warned us earlier this year that Antony and Cleopatra “contains scenes of suicide, scenes of violence and war, and misogynoir references”, while a recent production of Macbeth directed by David Tennant at the Donmar told patrons that “post-combat suggestions and ex-combatants” in the play. postnatal health concerns”.

So, in the spirit of the age, here are ten trigger warnings (maybe) coming to a Shakespeare production near you soon.

1. There may be cases of ageism

Not only is Falstaff the victim of a corpse – the medieval equivalent of being asked to take Ozempic – but in Henry IV, Part II he is receiving age-old jibes from Hal. King Henry V now rejects his former friend in the play’s climactic scene. “I don’t know you, old man. I fall to your prayers / How white hairs manage to fool and mock!” Discrimination against those with gray hair is apparently called achromotrichiaphobia.

More ageism now, this time from Elsinore and Hamlet describing Polonius and other adults as “these tedious old fools”. Not only that, but the prince of Denmark is a misogynist (when he tells Ophelia “You reed and bawl, and lisp, you nicknamed God’s creatures and make your scarcity into ignorance”) and puts on anti-causative attitude, mocking those who argue mental health issues.

Age, I see before me: Richard Burton in Hamlet

Age, I see before me: Richard Burton in Hamlet – Mondadori Portfolio

2. They may offend those who are religiously minded

Hamlet even tells poor Ophelia that even though he loved her once, she shouldn’t have children and “Go to a nunnery! Why would you be a sinful breeder?” Not only is it damaging to any normal members of the audience, but it could also be seen as childish.

3. It could offend the stinking rich

Also, we should be alerted to Polonius’s own terrible plight of the poor who work in banks and building societies. “Neither a lender nor a lender to be / On a loan he often loses himself and a friend / And a loan cannot be found on the edge of farming.”

4. Are you fat? Lucky month

Even the Bard’s comics are not a safe space. The Comedy of Errors is a long extended fat joke between Antipholus and Dromio who is also Europhobic. Dromio said: “Marry, sir, she is the kitchen fan and all the fat; and I do not know what is the benefit of putting her but to make her a lamp and run away from her by her own light. I declare, that her rags and the fat in them will burn the winter of Poland: if she lives until the day of her birth, she will burn a week longer than the whole world.”

Safe space: The Merry Wives of WindsorSafe space: The Merry Wives of Windsor

Safe space: The Merry Wives of Windsor – Manuel Harlan

5. Greek? Lucky month

Surely it can’t be long before Julius Caesar’s trigger warning is broken. Not because of the bloody murder, but because of the casual Hellenophobia shown by Casca, a senator who had defeated Caesar, when Cassius asked him what Cicero had said in a speech. “No, and I tell you that, I will not look you in the face again,” cried the answer. “But those who understood it smiled at each other and shook their heads; but, for my part, he was Greek to me.”

6. Welsh? Lucky month

Shakespeare was a glorious hero to our friends across the border. Or, at least, he certainly mentioned them a lot – usually, however, as background. Take his treatment of folk hero Owain Glyndŵr, Wales’ most beloved son. In Henry IV, Part One, he is a first-class windbag, with signs and dilemmas, boring the delirium by lecturing on “the stars that prevailed at my birth”. In Henry V, there is another anti-Welsh joke when Fluellen forces Pistol to eat a leek: “If you can mock a leek / You can eat a leek”. That will show them.

7. A woman? Now you are really in trouble

As You Like It reinforces a harmful patriarchy, as well as being sexually implied, in Jacques’ famous speech. “All the world is a stage, And all the men and women are but players; Their departure is in their place, And one man in his time plays many parts, Seven ages of his actions.” Each of the seven ages only refers to “he” and “his” !

8. Vegans beware: there may be animal parts (and great cannibalism)

Titus Andronicus could be seen as an inspiration for vegans and cannibals. Tamora, the emperor, unknowingly eats a pie served by the title character that her son baked. Before he leaves her, Titus says: “Why, they are both baked in this pie, It is what their mother fed gently, Eating the meat she herself married.” A feeling familiar to anyone who has eaten a handful of Haribo without realizing it contains animal gelatin.

Sharp parts: Lucy McCormick in Titus AndronicusSharp parts: Lucy McCormick in Titus Andronicus

Sharp parts: Lucy McCormick in Titus Andronicus – Camilla Greenwell

9. Um … fur?

A niche thing, maybe, but A Midsummer Night’s Dream could be an inspiration to people in the “furry fandom” (ie who get off on the idea of ​​being with anthropomorphic animals). Bottom has his head transformed into a donkey’s head by the mischievous Puck. The fairy queen Titania shames those associated with fur bending when she cries “Think I was obscene on a donkey.”

10. Retirement following common sense

And, although this is a stage direction instead of a spoken line, “Retire, pursued by a bear” is sure to inspire anyone who’s been lucky enough to be… pursued by a bear.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *