Notes on Act IV, scene i
mastiffs: type of dog
study in the book: try to understand another's heart
poison'd pills: why do you speak kind words when you only mean me ill?
vow: see Act III, scene ii
bastards: Ferdinand does not consider the Duchess' marriage valid so her children would be illegitimate.
sacrament: their marriage; "what God hath joined, let no man put asunder" as Ferdinand has separated the Duchess and Antonio.
shall: which shall
i' th' light: you were seen too much in public, thus attracting the attention of lovers
ring: actually this is her ring, taken from her by the Cardinal in III.iv. Ferdinand wants her to think that this is Antonio; she doesn't realize that it's only a hand until Ferdinand moves away from her, leaving her holding the hand.
ow'd: owned it (send for Antonio, and see if he can help you)
children: this may be a mistake, as only the older son went with Antonio, the Duchess has the others with her in prison (mentioned in IV.ii)
needle: reference to black magic, piercing the likeness of someone with a needle
yond's: yonder is, there is
trunk: body of Antonio
Portia: wife of Brutus (assassin on Julius Caesar), who killed herself by swallowing hot coals.
Christian: the church forbids suicide
bee: even a bee that hurts you can then turn playful (bad events often turn to good)
wheel: the rack where a person was stretched until their bones were broken; the duchess criticizes Bosola for encouraging her to live just so her suffering can continue.
so small a business: she belittles the value of her life now
miracles of pity: religious images for the purpose of making people feel pity on the suffering
smiling seasons: spring, summer, fall
winter: she curses the world to freeze over, even worse, to turn the world back into its original chaotic state before creation
stars shine still: Bosola means either that there remains some light (hope) in this dark world, or in contrast, that Heaven is unmoved/ unaffected by the sufferings of people below, "the insignificance of human agony before the impassive universe" (Lucas)
them: her brothers
plagu'd in art: she suffers being fooled by a trick
curious: ingenious, expert
body: note Ferdinand's obsession with his sister's body
my blood: referring immediately to their family's honor, but also we learn in the next scene that they were twins
masques: performances with music and dance
needs be: chooses to be
gambols: play, games
full o'th' moon: when madmen are thought to be at their worst (hence the word "lunatic")
shape: that is, without a disguise
intelligence: spying; Bosola says he is finished with cruelties
kin: pity is no relation to you; it doesn't suit you
intemperate agues: excessive fevers make physicians resort to desperate measures
Back to Act IV, scene i
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