Notes on  Act V, scene ii

instantly: shortly

to't: to understand it

try: see for themselves

Paracelsus: German physician known for his radical cures

eagles: noble birds, in contrast to commoners (daws)

haunt: Ferdinand's shadow is seen by commentators as a symbol of his guilty conscience; compare the image that the Cardinal sees in the pond (V.v)

sheep-biter: a sheep dog that drives the flock by biting at them

civil: that is, I don't like your looks

salamander: a lizard which was thought to be able to live in fire

cruel sore eyes: perhaps a guilty reference to the sight of his dead sister (“Mine eyes dazzle”)

cockatrix: a mythical monster similar to the basilisk, whose looks could kill

brook: permit

fetch a frisk: dance a jig

cullis: broth; that is, beat him to a bloody pulp

anatomies: skeletons used by medical colleges, implying that this doctor has supplied many of them by his bad practice

Chirugeon's: Surgeon's; barbers also performed some surgical practices such as bleeding

tongue and belly: man is nothing but a deceiver and a creature of appetite

throughly: thoroughly

feign: pretend

intelligence: knowledge

full of all th' engagement: the entire plan appeared to come from Ferdinand

oft-dy'd garment: pale

in a breath: quickly

think long: people who think about an action too long never get around to performing it, and so accomplish nothing

that fellow: admiring Bosola

style me thy advancement: name your price

mass: church service

school-name: a mere word, not taken seriously

fashion: for appearance's sake he may go with him to church

taking up: borrowing; Jews were known for lending money

picture-makers: painters of miniature portraits

her: the Duchess

happily: perhaps

freeze: delay

surer way to trace: better path to follow

fast: locked tight

kissing-comforts: breath mints

discover: uncover, reveal

disarm: he takes her gun from her, then takes her in his arms

wanton: lustful

familiar: spirit in the form of an animal that accompanies witches; modesty just gets in the way of their desires

wants: lacks

want compliment: I lack the ability to compliment, I'm no flatterer

charge: task

cut off: we dispense with merely longing for someone and take our pleasure without hesitating

dependence: means of support

follow the wars: become a mercenary

calling: profession as a hired killer

pillows: that is, someone who always chooses the hard life

cabinet: closet

distraction: insanity

Yond's: there is (Julia)

consumption: disease

quit of: rid of her

secretary: confidant

satisfy thy longing: “get over it”

rack: torture

adamant: have their hearts encased with the hardest metal

dally: toy

book: Webster loves outlandish murder weapons; in his other tragedy The White Devil, he uses a poisoned mask and a poisoned portrait.

colours: why do you paint me in your colors, which hide your rotten acts?

actors: men cover up their crimes by killing those who helped them accomplish the deed

smother: smoke; that is, why stir up trouble when things are going well?

that body: Julia

grow: become

bier: the stand on which coffins are placed; Bosola also had to carry off the Duchess' body

horseleeches: applied to swelling to suck the blood off

train: followers

estate: condition; Bosola wants to offer pity to Antonio but knows this is a dangerous path as it sets him against the Cardinal

frost-nail'd: spiked boots for gripping the ice

precedent's: example; Bosola needs to be as fearless as the Cardinal in his bloody dealings

bears up: is wading in blood

security: with no fear of danger, men do evil deeds which lead to hell

biters: blood suckers (compare the Duchess's comments in IV.ii, also here)


Back to Act V, scene ii

Table of contents