Gary Taylor, John Jowett, Terri Bourus, and Gabriel Egan (eds), The New Oxford Shakespeare: Modern Critical Edition

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1.1Sc. 1

Editor’s NoteEnter young Bertram Count of Roussillon, his mother the Countess, Editor’s NoteHelen, and Lord Lafeu, all in black
Editor’s Note Link 1

countess In delivering my son from me, I bury a second husband.

Editor’s Note2

bertram And I in going, madam, weep o'er my father's death anew; but Editor’s Note3I must attend his majesty's command, to whom I am now in ward, 4evermore in subjection.

Editor’s Note5

lafeu You shall find of the King a husband, madam; you, sir, a father. Editor’s Note6He that so generally is at all times good must of necessity hold his pg 2276Editor’s Note7virtue to you, whose worthiness would stir it up where it wanted 8rather than lack it where there is such abundance.

Editor’s Note9

countess What hope is there of his majesty's amendment?

Editor’s Note10

lafeu He hath abandoned his physicians, madam, under whose Editor’s Note11practices he hath persecuted time with hope, and finds no other 12advantage in the process but only the losing of hope by time.

Editor’s Note13

countess This young gentlewoman had a father—O, that 'had', how Editor’s Note14sad a passage 'tis!—whose skill was almost as great as his honesty; had it Editor’s Note15stretched so far, would have made nature immortal, and death should 16have play for lack of work. Would for the King's sake he were living! 17I think it would be the death of the King's disease.

18

lafeu How called you the man you speak of, madam?

19

countess He was famous, sir, in his profession, and it was his great Editor’s Note20right to be so: Gérard de Narbonne.

21

lafeu He was excellent indeed, madam. The King very lately spoke of 22him admiringly, and mourningly. He was skilful enough to have lived Editor’s Note23still, if knowledge could be set up against mortality.

24

bertram What is it, my good lord, the King languishes of?

Editor’s Note25

lafeu A fistula, my lord.

26

bertram I heard not of it before.

Editor’s Note27

lafeu I would it were not notorious. —Was this gentlewoman the 28daughter of Gérard de Narbonne?

Editor’s Note29

countess His sole child, my lord, and bequeathed to my overlooking. Editor’s Note30I have those hopes of her good that her education promises. Her Editor’s Note31dispositions she inherits, which makes fair gifts fairer; for where an Editor’s Note32unclean mind carries virtuous qualities, there commendations go with Editor’s Note33pity: they are virtues and traitors too. In her they are the better for Editor’s Note34their simpleness. She derives her honesty and achieves her goodness.

Editor’s Note35

lafeu Your commendations, madam, get from her tears.

Editor’s Note36

countess 'Tis the best brine a maiden can season her praise in. The 37remembrance of her father never approaches her heart but the tyranny Editor’s Note38of her sorrows takes all livelihoodfrom her cheek. No more of this, Editor’s Note39Helen. Go to, no more, lest it be rather thought you affect a sorrow 40than to have—

Editor’s Note41

helen I do affect a sorrow indeed, but I have it too.

Editor’s Note42

lafeu Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, excessive grief the 43enemy to the living.

pg 2277 44

countess If the living be not enemy to the grief, the excess makes it Editor’s Note45soon mortal.

Editor’s Note46

bertram [kneeling] Madam, I desire your holy wishes.

Editor’s Note47

lafeu How understand we that?

48

countess Be thou blessed, Bertram, and succeed thy father

Editor’s Note49In manners as in shape. Thy blood and virtue

Editor’s Note50Contend for empire in thee, and thy goodness

Editor’s Note51Share with thy birthright. Love all, trust a few,

Editor’s Note52Do wrong to none. Be able for thine enemy

Editor’s Note53Rather in power than use, and keep thy friend

Editor’s Note54Under thy own life's key. Be checked for silence

55But never taxed for speech. What heaven more will

Editor’s Note56That thee may furnish and my prayers pluck down,

57Fall on thy head. Farewell. [To Lafeu] My lord,

Editor’s Note58'Tis an unseasoned courtier. Good my lord

Editor’s Note59Advise him.

lafeu He cannot want the best

60That shall attend his love.

61

countess Heaven bless him! Farewell, Bertram.

Editor’s Note62

bertram [rising] The best wishes that can be forged in your thoughts Editor’s Note63be servants to you.

[Exit Countess] [To Helen]

Editor’s Note64Be comfortable to my mother, your mistress, and make 65much of her.

Editor’s Note66

lafeu Farewell, pretty lady, you must hold the credit of your father.

[Exeunt Bertram and Lafeu]
Editor’s Note67

helen O, were that all! I think not on my father,

68And these great tears grace his remembrance more

69Than those I shed for him. What was he like?

70I have forgot him. My imagination

Editor’s Note71Carries no favour in't but Bertram's.

72I am undone. There is no living, none,

Editor’s Note73If Bertram be away. 'Twere all one

74That I should love a bright particular star

75And think to wed it, he is so above me.

Editor’s Note76In his bright radiance and collateral light

Editor’s Note Link 77Must I be comforted, not in his sphere.

78Th' ambition in my love thus plagues itself.

Editor’s Note79The hind that would be mated by the lion

80Must die for love. 'Twas pretty, though a plague,

pg 227881To see him every hour; to sit and draw

Editor’s Note82His archèd brows, his hawking eye, his curls,

Editor’s Note83In our heart's table—heart too capable

Editor’s Note84Of every line and trick of his sweet favour.

Editor’s Note85But now he's gone, and my idolatrous fancy

Editor’s Note86Must sanctify his relics. Who comes here?

Editor’s NoteEnter Paroles

87One that goes with him. I love him for his sake,

88And yet I know him a notorious liar,

Editor’s Note89Think him a great way fool, solely a coward,

Editor’s Note90Yet these fixed evils sit so fit in him

Editor’s Note91That they take place when virtue's steely bones

Editor’s Note92Looks bleak i'th' cold wind. Withal, full oft we see

Editor’s Note93Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.

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paroles Save you, fair queen.

95

helen And you, monarch.

Editor’s Note96

paroles No.

97

helen And no.

Editor’s Note98

paroles Are you meditating on virginity?

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helen Ay. You have some stain of soldier in you; let me ask you a Editor’s Note100question. Man is enemy to virginity: how may we barricado it against 101him?

102

paroles Keep him out.

103

helen But he assails; and our virginity, though valiant, in the defence, 104yet is weak. Unfold to us some warlike resistance.

Editor’s Note105

paroles There is none. Man, setting down before you, will undermine Editor’s Note106you and blow you up.

Editor’s Note107

helen Bless our poor virginity from underminers and blowers-up! Is Editor’s Note108there no military policy how virgins might blow up men?

Editor’s Note109

paroles Virginity being blown down, man will quicklier be blown up. Editor’s Note110Marry, in blowing him down again, with the breach yourselves made, Editor’s Note111you lose your city. It is not politic in the commonwealth of nature Editor’s Note112to preserve virginity. Loss of virginity is rational increase, and there pg 2279Editor’s Note113was never virgin got till virginity was first lost. That you were made Editor’s Note114of is mettle to make virgins. Virginity by being once lost may be ten 115times found; by being ever kept it is ever lost. 'Tis too cold a companion, 116away with't.

Editor’s Note117

helen I will stand for't a little, though therefore I die a virgin.

Editor’s Note118

paroles There's little can be said in't, 'tis against the rule of nature. To 119speak on the part of virginity is to accuse your mothers, which is most Editor’s Note120infallible disobedience. He that hangs himself is a virgin: virginity Editor’s Note121murders itself, and should be buried in highways, out of all sanctified Editor’s Note122limit, as a desperate offendress against nature. Virginity breeds mites, 123much like a cheese; consumes itself to the very paring, and so dies Editor’s Note124with feeding his own stomach. Besides, virginity is peevish, proud, Editor’s Note125idle, made of self-love—which is the most inhibited sin in the canon. Editor’s Note126Keep it not, you cannot choose but lose by't. Out with't! Within 127t'one year it will make itself two, which is a goodly increase, and the 128principal itself not much the worse. Away with't!

129

helen How might one do, sir, to lose it to her own liking?

Editor’s Note130

paroles Let me see. Marry, ill, to like him that ne'er it likes. 'Tis a Editor’s Note131commodity will lose the gloss with lying: the longer kept, the less worth. Editor’s Note132Off with't while 'tis vendible. Answer the time of request. Virginity Editor’s Note133like an old courtier wears her cap out of fashion, richly suited but Editor’s Note134unsuitable, just like the brooch and the tooth-pick, which wear not now. Editor’s Note135Your date is better in your pie and your porridge than in your cheek, 136and your virginity, your old virginity, is like one of our French withered 137pears: it looks ill, it eats drily, marry, 'tis a withered pear. It was Editor’s Note138formerly better, marry, yet 'tis a withered pear. Will you anything with it?

Editor’s Note139

helen Not my virginity, yet …

Editor’s Note140There shall your master have a thousand loves,

Editor’s Note141A mother, and a mistress, and a friend,

Editor’s Note142A phoenix, captain, and an enemy,

pg 2280143A guide, a goddess, and a sovereign,

144A counsellor, a traitress, and a dear:

145His humble ambition, proud humility,

Editor’s Note146His jarring-concord, and his discord-dulcet,

147His faith, his sweet disaster, with a world

Editor’s Note148Of pretty fond adoptious christendoms

149That blinking Cupid gossips. Now shall he—

Editor’s Note150I know not what he shall! God send him well.

151The court's a learning place, and he is one—

152

paroles What one, i'faith?

153

helen That I wish well. 'Tis pity.

154

paroles What's pity?

155

helen That wishing well had not a body in't

Editor’s Note156Which might be felt, that we, the poorer born,

Editor’s Note157Whose baser stars do shut us up in wishes,

Editor’s Note158Might with effects of them follow our friends

Editor’s Note159And show what we alone must think, which never

Editor’s Note160Returns us thanks.

Enter Page
161

page Monsieur Paroles, my lord calls for you.

[Exit]
162

paroles Little Helen, farewell. If I can remember thee, I will think of 163thee at court.

Editor’s Note164

helen Monsieur Paroles, you were born under a charitable star.

165

paroles Under Mars, I.

166

helen I especially think under Mars.

167

paroles Why 'under Mars'?

168

helen The wars hath so kept you under that you must needs be born 169under Mars.

Editor’s Note170

paroles When he was predominant.

Editor’s Note171

helen When he was retrograde, I think rather.

172

paroles Why think you so?

173

helen You go so much backward when you fight.

Editor’s Note174

paroles That's for advantage.

Editor’s Note175

helen So is running away, when fear proposes the safety. But the 176composition that your valour and fear makes in you is a virtue of a 177good wing, and I like the wear well.

178

paroles I am so full of businesses I cannot answer thee acutely. I will Editor’s Note179return perfect courtier, in the which my instruction shall serve to Editor’s Note180naturalize thee, so thou wilt be capable of a courtier's counsel and pg 2281181understand what advice shall thrust upon thee; else thou diest in Editor’s Note182thine unthankfulness, and thine ignorance makes thee away. Farewell. Editor’s Note183When thou hast leisure, say thy prayers; when thou hast none, remember Editor’s Note Link 184thy friends. Get thee a good husband and use him as he uses thee. So 185farewell.

[Exit]
186

helen Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie

Editor’s Note187Which we ascribe to heaven. The fated sky

188Gives us free scope, only doth backward pull

Editor’s Note189Our slow designs when we ourselves are dull.

Editor’s Note190What power is it which mounts my love so high,

191That makes me see, and cannot feed mine eye?

Editor’s Note192The mightiest space in fortune nature brings

Editor’s Note193To join like likes and kiss like native things.

Editor’s Note194Impossible be strange attempts to those

Editor’s Note195That weigh their pains in sense and do suppose

196What hath been cannot be. Who ever strove

Editor’s Note197To show her merit that did miss her love?

198The King's disease—my project may deceive me,

199But my intents are fixed and will not leave me.

Exit

Notes Settings

Notes

Editor’s Note
1.1.0 Roussillon Once a province of south-western France; pronounced Ross-ill-yon, with the accent on ill.
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1.1.0 Helen (traditionally called 'Helena'; but the longer form occurs only four times, early in the play, and apparently represents an alternative later abandoned)
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1.1.0 Lafeu the name means either 'the late' (i.e. deceased; referring to his age) or 'the fire'
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1.1.0.2 all in black Mourning garments in the period covered the individual from head to toe (compare Hamlet's 'inky cloak' Sc. 2). Helen is usually dressed in a way that makes her inferior social status immediately apparent. In the BBC film, Helen helps out other servants who are preparing for Bertram's departure.
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1.1.1–2 In delivering … husband (i.e. losing my son grieves me as much as my husband's death)
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1.1.1 delivering sending away; freeing; giving birth to
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1.1.2 bertram In performance his youth will be apparent by contrast with his mother and Lafeu; most modern productions emphasize his teenage immaturity. In Edwardian productions Bertram frequently looked at his watch, impatient to leave.
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1.1.3 attend obey, listen to
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1.1.3 to whom I am now in ward whose ward I now am. (His father's death makes Bertram technically an orphan even though the Countess his mother is alive. Bertram is a minor and, as a fatherless heir, the King is guardian of his estate until he comes of age.)
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1.1.5 of in
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1.1.6 generally universally, to all men
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1.1.6 hold uphold, maintain
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1.1.7 wanted was lacking
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1.1.9 amendment improvement
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1.1.10 He … physicians (reversing the usual 'His physicians have abandoned him', i.e. given up hope of his recovery)
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1.1.11 practices professional attentions
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1.1.11 persecuted time with hope i.e. afflicted his days with hope, imagined as an instrument of self-torture, or as a petition ceaselessly reiterated by an irritating suitor
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1.1.13 This young gentlewoman Some productions have Helen curtsy at this first reference to her (in deference and indicating her inferiority). Bertram may seem disinterested in the ensuing conversation about Helen.
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1.1.14 passage expression (with a pun on 'passing away')
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1.1.14 honesty integrity
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1.1.14–15 had it stretched so far had his skill been as great as his honesty
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1.1.15 should would certainly
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1.1.20 de Narbonne 'of Narbonne' (a town in south-east France, just north of Roussillon)
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1.1.23 still forever
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1.1.25 fistula abscess or ulcer
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1.1.27 notorious known to everyone
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1.1.29 overlooking guardianship (i.e. Helen is her ward, as Bertram is the King's)
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1.1.30–1 I have … inherits (i.e. I expect her to live up to the promise of her education, for she inherits her dispositions; which are therefore admirable as was her father, so that the education will not be wasted)
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1.1.31 gifts accomplishments (i.e. the fruits of education)
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1.1.32 virtuous qualities (i.e. qualities of a virtuoso, acquired skills)
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1.1.32–3 go with pity mingle with regret
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1.1.33 traitors (because they are employed in the service of evil)
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1.1.34 simpleness being unmixed (with vice), purity
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1.1.34 derives inherits
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1.1.35 tears Helen may be weeping throughout this opening passage.
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1.1.36 season preserve (as with salt); add something to make ready for consumption (figuratively)
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1.1.38 livelihood liveliness, animation
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1.1.38–9 No … Helen (perhaps spoken sternly or with some affection)
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1.1.39–40 affect … affect are in love with; pretend
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1.1.41 I … too (sometimes an aside)
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1.1.42 right rightful due
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1.1.45 mortal fatal
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1.1.46 holy wishes blessing
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1.1.47 How understand we that? Helen does not answer. Lafeu may seem confused about either the Countess's maxim or Bertram's request to the Countess.
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1.1.49 manners behaviour
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1.1.49 blood inherited nature (synonymous with birthright); but perhaps unintentionally suggesting 'unruly passion'
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1.1.50 Contend for empire (i.e. (may they) compete for dominance)
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1.1.51 Share (i.e. the 'empire')
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1.1.52 able for capable of dealing with, a match for
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1.1.53 Rather in power than use potentially rather than habitually (i.e. having the power, without using it)
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1.1.53–4 keep … key safeguard your friend's life as you do your own
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1.1.54–5 checked … taxed rebuked … censured
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1.1.56 furnish properly supply
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1.1.58 unseasoned unripe, immature
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1.1.59–60 want … love lack the best (advice), which shall wait upon him (not from duty but) out of mutual love
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1.1.62 forged fashioned
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1.1.63 be servants to you (i.e. obey your commands, realize your wishes)
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1.1.64 comfortable comforting
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1.1.64–5 Be comfortable … her The first time Bertram speaks to Helen in the play; notably, she does not (cannot?) verbally respond.
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1.1.66 hold uphold
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1.1.66 credit reputation
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1.1.66 O, were that all! Perhaps spoken with relief, as Helen discloses the secret she keeps to herself; if Helen demonstrated emotional restraint in the opening passage, when left alone she may reveal her distraught state. Additionally, she may seem embarrassed or guilty about not mourning for her father.
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1.1.67 on of
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1.1.71 favour face; love-token
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1.1.73–4 'Twere … That it would be just the same, if
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1.1.76 collateral parallel (the heavenly bodies, supposedly revolving in concentric and eternally separated spheres, moved 'collaterally')
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1.1.77 sphere orbit (which is above her own)
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1.1.79 hind female deer
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1.1.82 hawking hawk-like, sharp
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1.1.83 table drawing-board
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1.1.83 capable receptive to impressions
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1.1.84 trick characteristic trait
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1.1.84 favour face
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1.1.85 fancy love
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1.1.86 sanctify his relics worship what remains of him
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1.1.86.1 Paroles (French for 'words'; three syllables, accented on second)
Editor’s Note
1.1.86.1 Paroles Paroles is usually extravagantly overdressed. Unlike the others, he is probably not dressed in black. Lafeu notes later that Paroles wears 'scarves' and 'bannerets' 2.3.192 around his sleeves (2.3.229). As Helen describes Paroles, Paroles may complete some stage action that confirms Helen's description of him. For example, he may preen in a mirror (as per the BBC film), trip over something, seem fearful of something onstage, etc.; anything to indicate that he is conceited, foolish, or cowardly.
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1.1.89 a great way largely a
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1.1.89 solely wholly
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1.1.90 sit so fit in him fit him so smartly (like well-tailored clothes)
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1.1.91 take place take precedence, obtain a place
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1.1.92 Withal therewith
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1.1.93 superfluous (i.e. 'enjoying superabundance' or 'overdressed')
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1.1.94 Save (God) save
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1.1.94 queen (an inflated courtesy title)
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1.1.96–7 No … no 'I'm no monarch'| 'Neither am I'
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1.1.98-139 virginity … my virginity, yet This passage was apparently added by Middleton after Shakespeare's death; early performances therefore did not contain it, and it has sometimes been cut (or shortened) in modern performances, too. In Shakespeare's original version, Paroles might have asked her if she was 'meditating on the court?', to which she could have answered 'There shall your master …'
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1.1.99 Ay In performance, the sound is the same as 'I', which could plausibly be spoken as a question meaning 'Me?'
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1.1.99 stain tinge
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1.1.100 barricado barricade. (The military imagery gives occasion for a succession of sexual double entendres.)
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1.1.105 setting down before laying siege to
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1.1.105–6 undermine you dig tunnels under your fortifications (in order to plant explosives)
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1.1.106 blow you up (punning on 'inflate', i.e. 'make you pregnant')
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1.1.107-8 Bless … men? Throughout this passage Helen may speak sardonically and knowingly; alternatively, she may seem naive and appalled by Paroles's comparison of sex and military action.
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1.1.108 policy strategy
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1.1.109 blown up (i.e. sexually aroused)
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1.1.110–5 in blowing … city (i.e. in deflating his ardour (by yielding to it), you lose your virginity)
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1.1.111 politic politically expedient
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1.1.112 rational increase judicious growth in the (human, therefore 'rational') population
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1.1.113 got begotten, conceived
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1.1.114 mettle substance; metal (by analogy with minting coins)
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1.1.114 ten times found (by giving birth to ten more virgins)
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1.1.117 stand for't defend it (to 'stand' is also punning shorthand for an erect penis)
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1.1.117 die (with the common pun on 'have an orgasm')
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1.1.118 in't for it
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1.1.120–1 He that … itself (i.e. a suicide is no more a self-destroyer than a virgin, who refuses to perpetuate virginity by giving birth to new virgins)
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1.1.121–2 sanctified limit boundaries of consecrated ground
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1.1.122–3 Virginity … cheese By the accepted theory of spontaneous generation, cheese itself was thought to give birth to the mites which then fed on and destroyed it; thus, virginity breeds its own destroyer.
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1.1.124 stomach pride
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1.1.125 inhibited prohibited
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1.1.125 canon Scriptures
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1.1.126 Out with't put it out (at interest)
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1.1.126 t'one the one, a single
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1.1.130–1 Marry, ill … likes 'do ill, i.e. act immorally, by liking one who doesn't like virginity'; but suggesting also 'marry badly, by liking one who doesn't want her virginity'
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1.1.131 gloss (of newness)
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1.1.131 lying lying idle and unsold
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1.1.132 vendible sell
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1.1.132 Answer … request respond to demand (which is greatest in youth)
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1.1.133 suited dressed
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1.1.133 unsuitable inappropriate, unfashionable
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1.1.134 brooch (long a fashionable ornament for hats)
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1.1.134 tooth-pick (a foreign invention, once ostentatiously displayed by travellers)
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1.1.134 wear not are not worn (by fashionable people)
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1.1.134 Your the indefinite use, as in 'your worm is your only emperor for diet' (Hamlet 13.19–20); your own
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1.1.134 date the fruit; age
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1.1.135 porridge plum-porridge (containing fruit)
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1.1.138 Will you will you (do)
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1.1.139 Not my virginity, yet … This suggests two constructions: not my virginity, yet others may be less scrupulous …; not my virginity yet; but soon …
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1.1.139 Not my virginity, yet… A notorious textual crux likely caused by the break in authorship between Middleton and Shakespeare; in performance, Helen may pause dramatically on 'yet' before tactfully (and obviously) shifting the focus of the conversation.
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1.1.140 There at the court
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1.1.141 mother (representing a different kind of love from that implied in the following catalogue)
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1.1.141–7 mistress … disaster (a series of conventional romantic epithets)
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1.1.141 friend Though this often implied a sexual relationship, it need not do so; like mother, it may here imply another, sexual kind of love.
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1.1.142 phoenix a unique, immortal, mythical bird; hence 'miracle', 'nonpareil'
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1.1.146 dulcet harmonious
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1.1.148–9 fond … gossips foolish nicknames given when blind Cupid is godfather (gossips) at the christening
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1.1.150 well good fortune
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1.1.156 felt perceived
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1.1.157 baser stars less elevate destinies (as supposedly determined by the position of the stars at birth)
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1.1.158 effects of them actual effects of our (good) wishes
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1.1.159 alone must must only
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1.1.160 Returns us thanks wins us gratitude
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1.1.164 under under (the astrological influence of)
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1.1.170 predominant in the ascendant
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1.1.171 retrograde going backward (used of a planet's apparent movement in the direction opposite that of the zodiac)
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1.1.174 advantage (strategic) advantage
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1.1.174 That's for advantage Paroles may or may not seem defiant in rejecting Helen's accusation of cowardice.
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1.1.175–6 composition mixture; truce, surrender
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1.1.175 of a good wing i.e. 'strong in flight', a phrase more honourably applied to a bird than a soldier; 'with large decorative shoulder flaps', presumably alluding to Paroles's foppish costume
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1.1.179 which courtier-ship
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1.1.180 naturalize Paroles means 'familiarize', but the word equally suggests 'free from conventionality' and 'make a fool of', both ironically relevant
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1.1.180 so if; so that
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1.1.180–1 capable … understood … thrust upon … diest (all capable of sexual double entendres)
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1.1.182 makes thee away puts an end to you
Editor’s Note
1.1.183–4 when … friends Paroles probably means 'don't remember them at all', but may mean 'remember them only when you need help'.
Editor’s Note
1.1.184 use treat
Editor’s Note
1.1.187 fated supposedly fateful, destiny-ordaining
Editor’s Note
1.1.189 dull sluggish
Editor’s Note
1.1.190 mounts my love so high elevates my desire to so lofty an object
Editor’s Note
1.1.192 The mightiest space in fortunev (persons separated by) the greatest distance in social rank
Editor’s Note
1.1.193 likes twins, identical or similar things
Editor’s Note
1.1.194 strange unusual
Editor’s Note
1.1.195 weigh their pains in sense (i.e. count the cost in advance, vividly imagine the painful difficulties)
Editor’s Note
1.1.197 miss fail to achieve
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