Anger Like A Full-Hot Horse

Our animal friends (well, some of these friendships are best pursued from a distance) have inspired an impressive list of similes. What kinds of animal similes did Shakespeare use?



The Bard was ‘smooth as oil’ in his use of  animal similes. His, of course, are cut in to beautifully complex sentences.

In King Henry the Eighth, the Duke of Norfolk says:
‘Anger is like
A full-hot horse, who being allow’d his way,
Self-mettle tires him.’


In Titus Andronicus, First Goth says:
‘Be bold in us: we’ll follow where thous lead’st  –
Like stinging bees in hottest summer’s day,
Led by their master to the flow’red fields’.


In Othello, Iago offers us an animal simile trio: ‘as prime as goats, as hot as monkeys, as salt as wolves in pride’.

And, in Troilus and Cressida,  Alexander offers another triple in:
‘This man, lady, hath robbed many beasts of their
particular additions; he is as valiant as the lion,
churlish as the bear, slow as the elephant.”


Some other Shakespearean animal similes?



The Bard Does Animal Similes

• Wild as young bulls (King Henry IV)
• Melancholy as a gib cat, or a lugged bear (King Henry IV)
• Merry as crickets (King Henry IV)
• Like a doe, I go to find my fawns (As You Like It)
• Patient as the female dove (Hamlet)
• Swim like a duck (The Tempest)
• Confident as is the falcon’s flight (King Richard II)
• Gently as an sucking dove (Midsummer Night’s Dream)
• As falcon to the lure (Venus and Adonis)
• Rank as a fox (Twelfth Night)
• Wanton as youthful goats (King Henry IV)
• Quiet as a lamb (King John)
• Hardy as the Nemean lion’s nerve (Hamlet)
• Feed like oxen at a stall (King Henry IV)
• Clawed like a parrot (King Henry IV)
• Like quills upon the fretful porcupine (Hamlet)
• Clean as a sound sheep’s heart (As You Like It)
• Creeping like a snail (As You Like It)
• More busy than the labouring spider (King Henry XI)
• Swift as breathed stags (The Taming of the Shrew)
• Vigilant as a cat to steal cream (King Henry IV)



Header Photo: Luisa Peter



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