The play is based on Columbus discovering new land. The crew on the ship is fade up of continuing the voyage as they failed to discover any new land. Columbus is very ambitious about continuing the voyage inspite the reluctance of the sailors. There is a revolt.The sailors go to such extreme that they even plan to get rid of Columbus by killing him. In angry mood one of the sailor says the following statement. (Santa Maria is the name of the ship. )

"The Santa Maria will be the lighter for his carcass. "

Could you please let me know what does the line mean. ?

1 Answer 1


It means "The ship will be lighter without his corpse" (after throwing it overboard) -- The sailing will be easier without him (and we can head for home). It is an odd use of 'for', meaning with-lack-of instead of with-addition-of (idiom).

  • Use of article THE before LIGHTER makes the word noun .in this context I doubt it is not adjective and not opposite of HEAVIER. Commented Nov 4, 2018 at 5:03
  • Sorry - I didn't even see the 'the', but it doesn't make 'lighter' a noun. It is an archaic form emphasizing the comparative (or superlative) -- you can think of 'lighter' as followed by an elided 'one' (itself substituting for a noun). It doesn't mean that the ship will be used to burn the body.
    – amI
    Commented Nov 4, 2018 at 5:48
  • LIGHTER also means a small flat boat to carry luggage. Can this be the meaning of the word here? Commented Nov 4, 2018 at 6:01
  • "The ship will be the barge for his carcass" -- that was a clever interpretation, but wrong. 'Lighter' is an adjective in the sentence and it is an English idiom, like "I am the wiser for having talked to you."
    – amI
    Commented Nov 4, 2018 at 15:10

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