I'm almost embarrassed to ask this because everyone seems to get the joke... but what does the whole "villain, I have done thy mother" thing mean? I hope you're not tired of explaining jokes 😅
No need to be embarrassed! I don’t mind explaining jokes, though it’s harder when it’s extended wordplay. The ‘villain, I have done thy mother’ joke is relatively simple, but I think it benefits from context.
In Titus Andronicus, Tamora, who has married Saturninus, is sleeping with her confederate, a black man called Aaron. She has two sons, Chiron and Demetrius, from an earlier marriage. Tamora becomes pregnant with Aaron’s baby and delivers. In this scene, the nurse brings the black baby to Aaron, Chiron and Demetrius. Because of the colour of the baby, the boys immediately guess what has happened and know that it will be difficult to shield their mother from the fact of her adultery, so they question Aaron:
DEMETRIUS: Villain, what hast thou done?
AARON: That which thou canst not undo.
CHIRON: Thou hast undone our mother.
AARON: Villain, I have done thy mother.
DEMETRIUS: And therein, hellish dog, thou hast undone her. (4.2.73-79)
The joke is on the various meanings of ‘do’ and ‘undo’. There’s the obvious sense of ‘what have you done?’; there is the sense of ruining someone’s fortune, which is what Chiron means when he says Aaron has ‘undone’ their mother; and there’s the sexual sense of ‘do’ which is slang for copulation, which is what Aaron means by ‘I have done thy mother’. In other words, he’s just saying that he’s had sex with Tamora: it’s obviously what he’s done to produce this baby.
a ‘your mum’ joke:
Demetrius: What have you done?
Aaron: Your mum.
Except Shakespeare can’t help playing extensively with a word once he’s introduced it, so the pun on ‘doing’ goes on a little longer.
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