Notes on Act II, scene v
mandrake: poisonous plant which according to superstition was thought to feed on blood and shriek when plucked, driving the person mad
prodigy: an unnatural or ominous event from which omens are drawn
loose i'th' hilts: promiscuous
publish't: make it known publicly
bawds: those who arrange lovers for her
secure conveyances: secret arrangements; she has more means to convey lovers into her bed than towns have to receive supplies
rhubarb: medicine thought to cure excessive choler. Choler (yellow bile) was one of the four humours thought to affect personality; the choleric person was angry and irritable. (see commentary on this scene)
cursed day: referring to the child's horoscope that Bosola has sent.
attainted: tainted, stained
balsamum: healing ointment
cupping-glass: small glasses were heated and applied to the skin, supposedly to draw out diseased blood by vacuum, a painful process
bequeath: leave as inheritance
bastard: just like Bosola, Ferdinand assumes that she is unmarried
hewed: hacked, cut up
left: left-handed people were thought to be deceitful; the Latin word for left is "sinister"
hyena: besides known for laughing, hyenas were thought to be lecherous
somewhat: about something, distract me
quoit the sledge: use the sledgehammer
mistress: Ferdinand speaks of his sister as if she were a mistress who left him for another.
intemperate: out of control
rupture: lack of self-control
study: I will make an effort to appear calm, even though I am not
in you or in myself: I could kill you or myself, thus killing the blood bond that we share with our sister
sin of his back: to pay him back for his lechery
leaps: mounts sexually
scorpions: possible allusion to the Bible, 1 Kings 12:11, "My father scourged you with whips, I will scourge you with scorpions."
general eclipse: total darkness
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