What does this quote mean? " But screw your courage to the the sticking- place,/ And we'll not fail." What literacy device is it?

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cybil | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Lady Macbeth is trying to bolster her husband's courage because he is hesitant to kill King Duncan. He asks, "If we should fail?" Her response is a pun because it offers two meanings. She is telling him to focus his attention ("screw your courage") on killing the king by her reference to the "sticking place," the place the knife will enter his body.

"Screw your courage" can also metaphorically mean to anchor his courage as if he were taking a screw or nail to hold it in place; this place can be a "sticking place" because it will hold his courage like a screw will hold something attached by it. "Screw" also means to force or contort something to a distorted shape, the shape his courage needs to stick (knife) Duncan.

Above all, Lady Macbeth does not want her husband to hesitate or question the plan further. Duncan will spend only one night at Inverness; they have only one opportunity to eliminate him. Macbeth must be brave. 

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