Notes on Act IV, scene ii

durance: hardship

muse: think

out of: without question

molten brass: possibly an allusion to the punishments described in Deuteronomy 28

custom: habit

show: appearance

eyesight: Fortune is often depicted as blind, but in this case she looks on the Duchess' misery, but does nothing

sport: entertainment

imposthume: ulcer

usher: servant who goes before a person of rank and makes introductions

hinder'd transportation: he couldn't get his grain to market in time

bell: bellow

cloy'd: filled

corrosiv'd: corroded

quire: choir

perspective: telescope to observe the stars

glass: magnifying glass

haycocks: stacks of hay; the priest plans to tithe (give one tenth) by sleeping with women every tenth night, like the farmer gives a tenth of his hay; also probably an intentional pun on “cocks”

pothecary: druggist

overstraining: preaching too loudly

woodcock: a stupid person

translation: referring to different versions of the Bible, which different groups of Puritans fought over

rope-maker: hangman

placket: pocket, but with a sexual implication

caroche: coach

pared: cut

agues: fevers

possets: hot drinks

costive: constipated

insensible: not realized by her

worm-seed: food for worms

salvatory of green mummy: ointment box containing the dust of mummified bodies (used for medicine)

cruded: curdled 

puff-paste: light pastry, insubstantial

compass: boundaries

riot: signs of age, wrinkles

breeds: cuts

Glories: Webster also quotes this common proverb in his other tragedy The White Devil

affect fashion: why should we care what our tomb looks like once we're dead?

images: effigies carved to resemble the person buried in the tomb

wont: accustomed to in the past

charnel: cemetery

in their veins: implying that her brothers are like leeches or vampires

bellman: bells were rung to drive evil spirits away that lie in wait for the departing soul

mortification: ready for death

competent: sufficient; in contrast to all her property, all she needs now is the space of her grave

vain keeping: why do fools want to hold onto this life full of misery?

reversion: inheritance 

apoplexy: stroke

catarrh: cerebral hemorrhage

cassia: perfume

open them both ways: you may wait for death, or choose to go through yourself (suicide); from Seneca

fault: talking too much

knees: she kneels

mandragora: plant used to induce sleep

feed: another image of vampires or carnivores

come to my answer: make my defense 

counsel: secrets

contracted: engaged

wedding ring: the noose

discover: reveal information in exchange for her life

When?: an exclamation of impatience

quick: pregnant

credit's saved: if you die before you have this illegitimate child, your reputation will be safe.

this: the Duchess' body

murder shrieks out: taken from Genesis 4:10 where God tells Cain, “The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.”

infelicity: unhappiness 

approv'd: proven

bad: bade, commanded

friend: can also refer to a lover

meanness of her match: marrying a common man beneath her status

gain'd: this is rationalization, as the inheritance would naturally have gone to her son by her first husband; Ferdinand doesn't want to admit the real reason for his intense jealousy of Antonio.

gall: bitterness 

wolf: foreshadowing Ferdinand's lycanthropia in Act V.ii

pension: payment

him: God

chain'd bullets: cannon balls chained together to cause more destruction

blood: runs in the blood of families

wherefore: why

owl-light: night 

painted: false

tire: we attire (dress) ourselves in false hope (that the Duchess may still be alive)

sensible: felt through the senses

store: restore

pity would destroy pity: if he calls out in pity for her life, Ferdinand might hear and return to finish the job.

atonement: reconcilement 

turtles': turtle doves, associated with love and marriage

suffer'd: allowed

manly sorrow: ironic, why cry now? why didn't I do something about this before when I had the chance?

estate: situation; I am past fear

fountains: tears

direful: dreadful

post: speed

worth my dejection: I shall do something in keeping with my lowly state of mind


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