Notes on Act II, scene ii

mire: mud

Lipsbury pinfold: pinned between my teeth (lips)

broken meats: scraps

three-suited: the wardrobe of a servant, allowed three suits a year

hundred-pound: too well paid

worsted-stocking: worn by common servants

lily-livered: cowardly

action-taking: a coward who refuses to fight but takes people to court

glass-gazing: conceited (always looking in the mirror)

super-serviceable: all too eager to serve others for personal gain

finical: overly concerned about how he looks

one-trunk-inheriting: possessing only one trunkful of belongings

bawd: pimp

addition: titles which Kent has given him

brazen-faced: bold

sop: with so many holes in him, Oswald will soak up the moonshine; similar to "make mincemeat of you"

cullionly barber-monger: always going to the hairdressers, effeminate, sissy 

Vanity the puppet: Goneril is compared to a character in morality plays and puppet shows

carbonado your shanks: chop up his calves as he would prepare meat to be cooked

goodman boy: I'll fight with you, cocky young man

disclaims: claims no part of

at suit of: out of pity for 

zed: British for the letter z, the last letter

unbolted: unsifted (as in flour), hence coarse

jakes: outhouse 

holy cords: bonds between parents and children, husband and wife

intrinse: entwined 

smooth: indulge (every desire)

halcyon beaks: a kingfisher bird, hung up like a weather vane, which turns whichever way the wind blows; a man of no principle

epileptic: Oswald twitching in fear

no contraries hold more antipathy: no opposites could be farther apart

countenance: I don't like his looks

occupation: nature

constrains the garb: Kent cloaks himself in honesty, but strains its meaning beyond bounds, calling rudeness a virtue

silly duckling observants: servants who follow the master around like little ducks (whom Kent accuses Oswald of being)

sooth: truth; also "verity"

allowance of your great aspect: approval of your high position (aspect describes the position of the heavenly bodies)

Phoebus: the Sun-god; Kent mocks Cornwall by speaking in high language like a court flatterer

dialect: customary manner of speaking; he usually doesn't flatter people

misconstruction: misunderstanding

compact: in league with the king

deal of man: appearance of manliness

worthied: gained him recognition with the king

attempting: attacking

self-subdued: Kent attacked me even though I chose not to fight but backed down

fleshment: bloodthirstiness of his first conquest (fleshing refers to the first taste of blood in a hunt)

Ajax: Greek warrior at Troy, who was stubborn and arrogant, but these men outdo him in their bragging

reverend: aged

messenger: one should treat the messenger of the king like you would the king himself (in this case, foreshadowing)

colour: character

check: rebuke

pilferings: petty theft

rubbed: deflected (bowling term)

saw: proverb "Out of God's blessing into the hot sun" that is, fortune goes from better to worse.

Nothing ... misery: nothing can make us appreciate miracles better than bad times

obscured: disguised

From this ... remedies: Cordelia, being away from the terrible conditions in this land, seeks ways to remedy the trouble

vantage: advantage; eyes, take advantage of sleep and don't look upon my shameful condition in the stocks

turn thy wheel: so that Kent, now at the bottom of the wheel, will be raised up

Back to Act II, scene ii

Next scene

Table of contents