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Re: Sticking place

Posted by ESC on January 04, 2009 at 22:41

In Reply to: Re: Sticking place posted by Joe on January 04, 2009 at 17:29:

: : What exactly is a "sticking place" where one may "screw their courage to"? I know it's from Shakespeare & I know what it means but I can't imagine what or where a sticking place is.

: Here is a very early explaination:

: The Monthly Review, Or, Literary JournalĂ˝ - Page 121
: by Ralph Griffiths, G. E. Griffiths - English imprints - 1808

: Few persons will perhaps be inclined to agree that the sticking place means ...
: that she means to exhort her husband to wind up his courage to such a pitch, ...

: " Macbeth" has furnished many opportunities for producing curious points of faith in regard to the powers and dispositions of witches.-Few persons will perhaps be inclined to agree that the sticking place means the stabbing place ; and without inquiring whether Lady Macbeth drew her metaphor from a pile-driver or the peg of a violin, the generality of readers will be satisfied with believing that she means to exhort her husband to wind up his courage to such a pitch, that it might act with force and vigor,-This play, more especially the part allotted to its hero^ abounds with obscure passages ; and perhaps it is not impossible that the poet might sometimes intend, by the obscurity of his language, to paint the agitated state of a mind employed in horrid actions at it jrevoltedj distracted with scruples, torn by remorse,

MACBETH: If we should fail?
LADY MACBETH: We fail? But screw your courage to the sticking place, And we'll not fail.

Here are two theories: "...the twisting of a tuning peg until it becomes set in its hole" and "the mark to which a soldier screwed up the cord of a crossbow." From "Brush Up on Your Shakespeare!" By Michael Macrone (Gramercy Books, New York, 1999). Page 128-129.