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When Petruchio invites Katherine to sit on his lap, she replies, "Asses are made to bear, and so are you." (Taming of the Shrew Act II, Scene 1.)

The denotation is clear, donkeys (Equus africanus asinus) are used as beasts of burden, and "bear" loads, and Petruchio resembles a donkey.

But is Shakespeare making a Joycean pun, 300 years avant la lettre? Something about bare bottoms?

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Well ... in Midsummer Night's Dream, Bottom gets turned into an ass (the donkey kind). –  Peter Shor Nov 11 '12 at 18:52
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Anyway, I don't want to seem mean, @Malvolio, but I think really this is Off Topic Lit Crit. –  FumbleFingers Nov 11 '12 at 19:20
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@StoneyB: I suspect they had closer vowels before the Great Vowel Shift. You can't draw any conclusions from today's pronunciations. –  Peter Shor Nov 11 '12 at 21:28
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@Malvolio: Even though I voted to close, many thanks for an interesting question! –  FumbleFingers Nov 11 '12 at 21:36
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closed as not constructive by FumbleFingers, Will Hunting, tchrist, Barrie England, Robusto Nov 11 '12 at 21:33

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