Q From Christy Wopperer: The expression screw her courage come a sticking-place, is stated to it is in by Shakespeare, however would you understand or have the right to you describe what or wherein a sticking-place can be? Without understanding why, I simply love this phrase, however cannot find any type of mention the sticking areas in mine searches online.

You are watching: Screw your courage to the sticking place

A The phrase in that kind and feeling does appear very first in Macbeth, spoken to the thane that Glamis through his wife when encouraging the to murder Duncan. Macbeth is having a bad case of cold feet and is reasoning of every the things that deserve to go wrong. The RSC Shakespeare gives Lady Macbeth’s heat in the contempt modernised form, “But screw her courage to the sticking-place / and also we’ll no fail”. Now we’re much much more likely to speak simply around screwing up our courage, another kind of the same expression.

The idea is that a ar where something stops and holds fast. If Macbeth go this, he won’t readjust his mind however stay v his previous decision come act against King Duncan. However, nobody is details what the sticking-place is — as so often, Shakespeare omitted come tell united state what that meant and sticking-place appears in English just in referral to this line.

The Clarendon Shakespeare, published in Oxford in 1869, said it describes “some engine or mechanically contrivance”. In a note in another Shakespeare play in the very same series, Troilus and also Cressida, the editors argue that it had actually something to execute with “screwing up the chords that string instruments to their suitable degree of tension”. The Oxford English Dictionary’s entry, published in 1911, accepts this together the exactly answer.

A writer in Notes and also Queries in December 1869 instead suggested the photo of a contemporary soldier, “with his crossbow planted at an angle against the ground, screwing that cord by way of a sort of windlass to ‘the sticking-place,’ or catch, whereby it will certainly be organized at furthest stretch.” This has also been put forward by various other writers and it’s welcomed by most modern editors that the play. It’s supported by a line after that in the scene: “I am settled, and bend up / each corporeal certified dealer to this terrible feat”, whereby by “bend up” it’s welcomed Macbeth is introduce to the stringing that a longbow. A martial picture would make sense when mentioning a murder.

See more: How Many Electrons Does Bromine Have, How Many Valence Electrons Does Bromine (Br) Have

As things stand, however, we’ve no means of deciding for details which allusion, if either, is what Shakespeare had in mind.