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"screw your courage to the sticking place"
Act 1,
Scene 7
Lines 59b-62

An explanation of Lady Macbeth’s use of the phrase “screw your courage to the sticking place” in Act 1, Scene 7 of myShakespeare’s Macbeth.


                                         If we should fail?

Lady Macbeth

We fail?
But screw your courage to the sticking place,
And we'll not fail. When Duncan is asleep — 

The imagery here is of a screw being turned until it is as tight as possible—to its “sticking place.” It’s likely Shakespeare is referencing a crossbow, whose string is pulled taut by turning a wooden screw. When the screw is turned to its fullest extent—its sticking place—the crossbow is ready to fire. Lady Macbeth is saying that Macbeth needs to ready his courage for his upcoming deed.