Notes on Act V, scene v

He: the unnamed author of the book, probably Luis de Granada, Spiritual and Heavenly Exercises, from which these ideas on hell come.

material: actual, real

rake: the devil with a pitchfork; the Cardinal's hideous vision resembles Ferdinand's fear of his shadow, both symbols of guilt and self-loathing.

lightens: becomes visible as action

proffers: offers

unseasonable: come too late

suffer: permit

chamber: you are going where Julia is (the grave)

above: in the original production on the Globe stage, these characters would have appeared in the upper balcony (the inner above) 

counterfeiting: pretending to need help, as he warned them he might do to test their obedience; ironically his attempt to conceal his guilt has sealed his doom.

laugh: make a fool of me by tricking me to abandon my pledge

engines: tools such as a crowbar

aloof: at a distance

Justice: often depicted with a sword in one hand and scales in the other

outward: you only appeared to be a great man, when actually you were always a coward

fall'st faster ... drive thee: you bring about your own ruin faster than the events themselves

leveret: small rabbit, defenseless animal

horse: possibly an allusion to Richard III's famous line, "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!" a part which Richard Burbage (who played Ferdinand in the first production) also originated

honors of arms: the right to retain arms after a defeat, if a person surrenders

adverse party: Ferdinand thinks his brother is the enemy in battle

ransom: there is no chance of a ransom if the prisoner is dead

Pompey: Julius Caesar defeated his one-time ally Pompey to become the supreme general of Rome, before his own assassination

barber: barbers also served as dentists and surgeons at this time

wet hay: in his madness he thinks of himself as a horse who is out of breath (broke-winded) which he called for a moment ago

vault credit:  by leaping over (surpassing) expectations that I'll burn in hell, I'll surprise everyone by enjoying the pleasures of the afterlife (a doubtful prediction)

in my teeth: the soul was thought to pass out of the mouth at death

pyramid: you began large (like the pyramid's base) but have ended up small (like its pinnacle) 

this hand: his own

neglected: in the end I neglected to follow my good nature. It is characteristic of tragic heroes to accept responsibility for their own actions.

rushes: the reeds covering the stage floor

withstand: how ironic that he did not permit us to rescue him

dead walls: walls that lead to a dead end

womanish: implying weakness, powerless

stagger: waver

play: note Webster's tongue-in-cheek reference to the implausible circumstances which conclude most tragedies, with everyone of note dead at the end; also see theatrical self-references at 4.1.81 and 4.2.277.

another voyage: Although he has avenged the Duchess and dies in a just cause, Bosola seems to think that his death comes not because of this final deed but as payment for his earlier villainy (as the Cardinal says), thus he assumes that his voyage after death will not take him to a hero’s reward.

arm'd: prepared

right: his mother's inheritance

eminent things: the brothers; combining "eminent" with "things" is telling irony; how the mighty have fallen


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