September 24, 2007

Let all that … winter to come

Let … come- “lions i’th’Tower”- from the time of Henry I (1100-35), kings had kept a small menagerie in the Tower of London (Cf. Stow, Annales, p. 895). Occasionally- in 1609 and 1610- lions were baited for the amusement of nobility. Candlemas is 2 February; cf. the proverb, ‘If Candlemas day be fair and bright, winter will have another flight’, i.e. last six weeks longer. Flamineo warns that all men of noble spirit (lions are the king of beasts) will enjoy only brief happiness if they live in service of powerful men at court (J. R. Brown, fn. 265-8, p. 166).


Originally, A wax candle, in early times used chiefly for devotional or penitential purposes’ (

False report … durable lives

Tilley attributes nine lives to women and cats, but Flamineo’s muses seem quite unique (Gunby, Carnegie and Jackson, p. 358)

Prosperity doth bewitch … rocks are near

When all goes well we see no danger under a calm sea, but the waves of a storm chastise us as they break on rocks and show the perils near at hand (J. R. Brown, fn. 250-1, 165).

Know many glorious … betide them

Flamineo remarks that many women renowned for courage have been vicious; and that only silence has saved their reputation- a woman who is skilled in concealing her faults appears to have none (J. R. Brown, fn. 244-7, p. 165)


Short for Toledo blade or sword: A sword or sword-blade made at Toledo, or of the kind made there’ (


To hold by, keep, observe, regard, look’ ( In Gale Hunter’s 1996 Royal Shakespeare Company production, Jane Gurnett’s Vittoria placed her hand on her chest.


adj. ‘Of the nature of an omen; portentous. Now rare’ (


Cf. The Duchess of Malfi, V.V.93-6, 118 and Marlowe, II Tamburlaine, II.iv.

Is driven I know not whither

Used by other Websterian villains, including Julia in The Duchess of Malfi (V.ii.280), Romelio in The Devil’s Law Case, and Flamineo, in parody, in (Gunby, Carnegie and Jackson).

I am too true a woman

Contrast this self-evaluation, which draws attention to Vittoria’s womanliness, with that of Flamineo at line 242-3, ‘if woman do breed man/ She ought to teach him manhood’, which stresses Vittoria’s ‘masculine virtue’

Methinks fear should dissolve into air

Cf. The Duchess of Malfi, iv.2.215, 220.

Are you so brave?

Cf. Bosolo’s questioning of the Duchess in The Duchess of Malfi, IV.ii.215, 220-1

They strike

Whilst the stage direction suggests that Lodovico is aided by his fellow assassins in the murder of Vittoria, in the 1996 Royal Shakespeare Company production Lodovico alone strikes

black Fury

Carlo addresses Zanche

I'll meet thy weapon half way

With the effect of emphasising her bravery, Jane Gurnett’s Vittoria in Gale Hunter’s 1996 Royal Shakespeare Company production literally ‘met’ Lodovico’s gun, walking towards it until in contact with the weapon.

the Moor

Zanche, whom it is his ‘task’ to murder

September 08, 2007

Strike thunder, and strike loud to my farewell

At this point or a moment later the ‘thundering’ (offstage) will probably be heard, as if in death Flamineo has control over the elements (Gunby, Carnegie and Hammond, p. 358).

This busy trade … pain by pain

Since rest breeds rest, where all seek pain by pain- Simplistically may mean ‘taking things easy brings contentment, whereas taking trouble only leads to trouble’, but Flamineo probably means taking one’s ease leads to more ease (i.e. death), in a world where everyone who makes effort is seeking their own misery and suffering (J. R. Brown, fn. 274, p. 167). Cf. The Duchess of Malfi, II.4.23. For the spirit of this epitaph of the weary end of the Renaissance, cf. The Duchess of Malfi, II.5. 77-9. l. 256-8- Cf. the savage independence of Bosola, The Duchess of Malfi. V.4.94-5.

most vain

(I) quite useless, empty; (2) full of vanity, conceited

Search this blog


Blog archive

RSS2.0 Atom
Not signed in
Sign in

Powered by BlogBuilder