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Posted by ESC on June 28, 2003

In Reply to: "Shuffle off this mortal COIL" (Shakespeare) posted by john michael smith on June 28, 2003

: Why is the word COIL used in this particular context?

"Shakespeare is really twisting syntax with this one. 'Coil' generally means a 'fuss' or a 'to-do' -- as in the line, 'for the wedding being here to-morrow, there is a great coil tonight' ("Much Ado about Nothing,' Act 3, Scene 3). But a to-do can't be 'mortal,' so what Hamlet must mean is 'this tumultuous world of mortals.'" From "Brush Up on Your Shakespeare!" By Michael Macrone (Gramercy Books, New York, 1999).