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

strumpet: prostitute

publish't: make it known publicly 

bounty: generosity

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.

meads: meadows

attainted: tainted, stained

physic: medicine

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

lint: bandages

hewed: hacked, cut up

unequal: unjust

left: left-handed people were thought to be deceitful; the Latin word for left is "sinister"

bark: boat

purchas'd: gained

hyena: besides known for laughing, hyenas were thought to be lecherous 

somewhat: about something, distract me

happily: perhaps

quoit the sledge: use the sledgehammer

privy: private

mistress: Ferdinand speaks of his sister as if she were a mistress who left him for another.

intemperate: out of control

aloud: loudly

palsy: affliction

rupture: lack of self-control

chide: reprimand

divers: many

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

ventage: chimney

cullis: broth

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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