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Analysis: Steaminess Rating

Exactly how steamy is this story?


The names Shakespeare assigns to characters like Mistress Quickly and Doll Tearsheet are enough to give Henry IV Part 2 an "R" rating. Plus, there's a whole lot of dirty talk in this play. (If you were to attend a performance of the play, your mom would probably make you cover your ears half the time.) So, if you don't like bawdy language and steamy double entendres, then you probably wouldn't want to read, say, Act 2, Scene 4. Here's a brief example of the kind of bawdy language Shakespeare puts in the mouths of his rowdy Eastcheap crew as they whoop it up at the Boars Head Tavern. (Now would be a good time to cover your eyes.)

Pistol: "God save you Sir John."
Translation: Hey, what's up Sir John.

Falstaff: "Welcome, Ancient Pistol. Here, Pistol, I
charge you with a cup of sack." Do you discharge
upon my hostess."
Translation 1: Welcome Pistol. I toast you with a cup of wine. You should chug this cup of wine and then return the favor by making a toast to Mistress Quickly.
Translation 2: Welcome Pistol. Here's a cup of wine to get you in the mood. You should take Mistress Quickly upstairs and have your way with her. Also, I'm so clever for punning on your name, "pistol," and comparing sex to the "discharging" of a firearm.

Pistol: "I will discharge upon her, Sir John, with two
Translation 1: I'll drink a toast to Mistress Quickly, twice.
Translation 2: I'll have my way with her alright.

Falstaff: "She is pistol-proof. Sir, you shall not hardly
offend her."
Translation: Mistress Quickly has been around the block a few times so, she won't be "offended" by all this dirty talk. Also, she won't be physically injured when you "discharge upon" her.

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