Notes on Act IV, scene ii

mild: timid, weak-willed (in contrast to Edmund)

sot: fool

cowish: cowardly

answer: retaliation (he ignores insults which would oblige him to retaliate)

wishes: desires that Edmund be her husband

prove effects: come true

brother: brother-in-law; she is unaware that Cornwall is dead

musters: collecting of troops

conduct his powers: lead his armies

change names: from that of wife to husband

distaff: stick used in spinning yarn, "woman's work"

stretch: raise your spirits (with a sexual innuendo as well)

Conceive: understand my intentions toward you

death: either "I'll be with you until death" or perhaps a reference to sex. "Die" was a common English euphemism for orgasm, probably from the French la petite mort, "the little death."

fool: her husband (if "foot" as in Q, she means that instead of the husband being the head of the wife, Albany is actually her foot)

whistle: "It is a poor dog that is not worth the whistling."

contemns its origin: despises its parent

bordered: contained (he fears her infidelity)

disbranch: cut herself off from the family tree

text: on which your sermon is based; "Stop preaching to me"

head-lugged: dragged with a chain around its neck, hence enraged

madded: driven mad

suffer: permit

Milk-livered: cowardly (the blood in the liver was supposed to give courage; he has "milk")

discerning ... suffering: unable to distinguish between injuries which affect your honor and thus should be avenged, and the patient endurance of ordinary troubles.

mischief: fool pity villains (such as Lear and Gloucester) who are punished before they can commit wrong; in other words, they had it coming.

drum: preparing for war, calling men to battle

noiseless: no drum, thus unprepared

proper deformity: it is proper for a demon to be deformed (physically), much worse for a woman to be so (morally)

changed and self-covered: transformed as by witchcraft, disguising her true demonic form

Be-monster: don't become in your looks the evil fiend you are inside 

Marry: by Mary (an anachronism since Shakespeare sets his play in pre-Christian times)

mew: she laughs at his manhood

bred: raised

thrilled: deeply moved

plucked him after: to death, following his servant

justicers: just gods who avenge crimes (Albany's optimism toward heaven will be strongly challenged at the end of the play)

nether: committed here below

this: the news of Cornwall's death, for it probably means Edmund's advancement to fill a powerful role

pluck: since my sister is now a widow, she may try to take Edmund from me, which would pull down all my dream-castles ("the building in my fancy"), leaving me here in this hateful marriage.

tart: sour (that is, things won't be so bad, if Cornwall's death means Edmund's advancement, and she can get her husband out of the way)

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