King Lear

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Kent, Gloucester, and Edmund
affect (v.) 1 incline to, like, favour, be drawn to


I thought the King had more affected the Duke of

Albany than Cornwall.


It did always seem so to us. But now in the

division of the kingdom it appears not which of the

Dukes he values most, for qualities are so weighed that
quality (n.) 2 accomplishment, capacity, ability

curiosity in neither can make choice of either's moiety.
curiosity (n.) scrupulousness, fastidiousness, painstaking attention to detail
moiety (n.) 1 share, portion, part


Is not this your son, my lord?


His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge.
breeding (n.) 1 raising, upbringing
charge (n.) 7 expense, cost, outlay

I have so often blushed to acknowledge him that now I

am brazed to it.
brass, braze (v.) harden (like brass)


I cannot conceive you.
conceive (v.) 1 understand, comprehend, follow


Sir, this young fellow's mother could;

whereupon she grew round-wombed, and had indeed,

sir, a son for her cradle ere she had a husband for her

bed. Do you smell a fault?
fault (n.) 1 sin, offence, crime


I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant See Topics: Frequency count
issue (n.) 2 outcome, result, consequence(s) See Topics: Frequency count

so proper.
proper (adj.) 1 good-looking, handsome, comely


But I have a son, sir, by order of law, some
order (n.) 2 prescribed practice, regular procedure

year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account.

Though this knave came something saucily to the world,
knave (n.) 3 boy, lad, fellow
saucily (adv.) presumptuously, cheekily, impudently
something (adv.) 1 somewhat, rather See Topics: Frequency count

before he was sent for, yet was his mother fair; there

was good sport at his making, and the whoreson must be
sport (n.) 3 sexual recreation, intercourse, amorous dalliance
whoreson (n.) [son of a whore; serious or jocular term of abuse] fellow, bastard

acknowledged. Do you know this noble gentleman,



No, my lord.


My lord of Kent. Remember him hereafter

as my honourable friend.


My services to your lordship.
service (n.) 4 respect, duty, esteem


I must love you and sue to know you better.
sue (v.) 1 beg, plead, beseech


Sir, I shall study deserving.
deserving (n.) 1 worthiness, desert, merit


He hath been out nine years, and away he
out (adv.) 12 away from home, abroad

shall again. The King is coming.

Sound a sennet. Enter one bearing a coronet

Enter King Lear, Cornwall, Albany, Gonerill, Regan,

Cordelia, and attendants


Attend the lords of France and Burgundy,
attend (v.) 2 serve, follow, wait [on/upon]
coronet (n.) 1 small crown [inferior to one worn by the sovereign]



I shall, my liege.

Exeunt Gloucester and Edmund


Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.
dark (adj.) 3 undivulged, secret, unrevealed
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count

Give me the map there. Know that we have divided

In three our kingdom: and 'tis our fast intent
fast (adj.) 2 firm, fixed, definite
intent (n.) intention, purpose, aim See Topics: Frequency count

To shake all cares and business from our age,

Conferring them on younger strengths, while we

Unburdened crawl toward death. Our son of Cornwall –

And you, our no less loving son of Albany –

We have this hour a constant will to publish
constant (adj.) 2 settled, resolved, decided
publish (v.) 1 announce, make public, make generally known
will (n.) 4 intent, purpose, design

Our daughters' several dowers, that future strife
dower (n.) dowry, property or wealth given with a wife
several (adj.) 2 various, sundry, respective, individual

May be prevented now. The princes, France and Burgundy,
prevent (v.) 2 take steps to thwart, avoid by prompt action

Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
great (adj.) 3 valiant, noble, honourable

Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
sojourn (n.) visit, temporary stay

And here are to be answered. Tell me, my daughters,

Since now we will divest us both of rule,
both (adv.) the following set [of nouns - not restricted to two]

Interest of territory, cares of state,
interest (n.) 1 valid claim [on], rights of possession [to]
state (n.) 10 government, ruling body, administration

Which of you shall we say doth love us most,

That we our largest bounty may extend
large (adj.) 1 generous, bountiful, liberal, lavish

Where nature doth with merit challenge. Gonerill,

Our eldest born, speak first.


Sir, I love you more than word can wield the matter,
matter (n.) 2 significance, import, meaning
wield (v.) express, utter, speak

Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty,
space (n.) 3 freedom from captivity; or: possession of property

Beyond what can be valued rich or rare,

No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour,

As much as child e'er loved or father found;

A love that makes breath poor and speech unable;
breath (n.) 1 utterance, speech, voice
unable (adj.) 2 inadequate, insufficient, incompetent

Beyond all manner of ‘ so much ’ I love you.



What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent.


Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
bound (n.) 2 territory, region, domain

With shadowy forests and with champains riched,
champain, champaign (n./adj.) expanse of open countryside
shadowy (adj.) shady, shaded

With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads,
mead (n.) meadow
wide-skirted (adj.) with wide borders, widely spread out

We make thee lady. To thine and Albany's issues
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant See Topics: Frequency count

Be this perpetual. – What says our second daughter,

Our dearest Regan, wife of Cornwall?


I am made of the self metal as my sister
mettle, mettell (n.) 1 spirit, temperament, disposition
self (adj.) same, selfsame, identical, exact

And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
price (v.) evaluate, value, prize

I find she names my very deed of love;
deed (n.) performance, action
name (v.) 1 give particulars of, speak about, describe

Only she comes too short, that I profess
profess (v.) 1 declare, avow, affirm

Myself an enemy to all other joys

Which the most precious square of sense possesses,
sense (n.) 3 feeling, sensibility, capacity to feel
square (n.) 2 rule, canon; or: proper constitution, normal condition

And find I am alone felicitate
felicitate (adj.) made happy, joyful, ecstatic

In your dear highness' love.



                         Then poor Cordelia!

And yet not so, since I am sure my love's

More ponderous than my tongue.
ponderous (adj.) weighty, substantial, profound
tongue (n.) 1 speech, expression, language, words, voice


To thee and thine hereditary ever

Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom,

No less in space, validity, and pleasure
validity (n.) 1 value, worth, estimation

Than that conferred on Gonerill. – Now, our joy,

Although our last and least, to whose young love

The vines of France and milk of Burgundy

Strive to be interessed; what can you say to draw
draw (v.) 2 take up, receive, collect
interess (v.) admit, give a share, lay claim

A third more opulent than your sisters'? Speak!


Nothing, my lord.






Nothing will come of nothing. Speak again.


Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave

My heart into my mouth. I love your majesty

According to my bond, no more nor less.
bond (n.) 2 duty, commitment, obligation


How, how, Cordelia! Mend your speech a little
mend (v.) 1 amend, improve, make better, put right

Lest you may mar your fortunes.
mar (v.) ruin, harm, injure, damage


                         Good my lord,

You have begot me, bred me, loved me.
beget (v.), past form begot 1 give birth to, father, conceive

I return those duties back as are right fit,
fit (adj.) 1 suited, fitting, appropriate
right (adv.) 1 very, altogether, properly

Obey you, love you, and most honour you.

Why have my sisters husbands, if they say

They love you all? Haply when I shall wed,
all (adv.) 1 exclusively, totally, altogether
haply (adv.) perhaps, maybe, by chance, with luck See Topics: Frequency count

That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry
plight (n.) 2 pledge, promise, marriage-vow

Half my love with him, half my care and duty.

Sure I shall never marry like my sisters,

To love my father all.
all (adv.) 1 exclusively, totally, altogether


But goes thy heart with this?


                         Ay, my good lord.


So young, and so untender?
untender (adj.) ungentle, unkind; or: unyielding


So young, my lord, and true.
true (adj.) 2 constant, faithful in love


Let it be so! Thy truth then be thy dower!
dower (n.) dowry, property or wealth given with a wife

For by the sacred radiance of the sun,

The mysteries of Hecat and the night,

By all the operation of the orbs
operation (n.) 1 effect, force, influence, power
orb (n.) 1 sphere, planet, star, heavenly body

From whom we do exist, and cease to be,

Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
disclaim (v.) disown, repudiate, renounce [connection with]

Propinquity and property of blood,
blood (n.) 6 blood relationship, kinship
propinquity (n.) close kinship, blood relationship

And as a stranger to my heart and me

Hold thee from this for ever. The barbarous Scythian,

Or he that makes his generation messes
generation (n.) 1 family, progeny
mess (n.) 4 serving of food, dish

To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom

Be as well neighboured, pitied, and relieved
neighbour (v.) be close, be well acquainted [with]

As thou my sometime daughter.
sometime (adj.) former, previous


                         Good my liege –


Peace, Kent!

Come not between the dragon and his wrath.

I loved her most, and thought to set my rest
rest (n.) 1 [period of] peace, calm, repose
set up one's rest (n.) [in primero] venture one's final stake, stake all

On her kind nursery. (To Cordelia) Hence and avoid my sight! –

So be my grave my peace as here I give

Her father's heart from her. Call France! Who stirs?
stir (v.) 3 bestir, move, get going

Call Burgundy! Cornwall and Albany,

With my two daughters' dowers digest the third.
digest, disgest (v.) 2 take in, incorporate, assimilate
dower (n.) dowry, property or wealth given with a wife

Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
plainness (n.) plain-speaking, openness, frankness

I do invest you jointly with my power,
power (n.) 3 authority, government

Pre-eminence, and all the large effects
effect (n.) 3 sign, mark, token, manifestation
large (adj.) 1 generous, bountiful, liberal, lavish

That troop with majesty. Ourself by monthly course,
course (n.) 2 habit, custom, practise, normal procedure
troop with (v.) go along with, be associated with, accompany

With reservation of an hundred knights,
reservation (n.) 1 keeping back, leaving aside

By you to be sustained, shall our abode

Make with you by due turn. Only we shall retain
only (adv.) 2 as a sole exception, excepting

The name and all th' addition to a king; the sway,
addition (n.) 3 external honour, distinctive style
sway (n.) 3 position of authority, powerful office

Revenue, execution of the rest,
execution (n.) 1 action, performance, doing

Beloved sons, be yours; which to confirm,

This coronet part between you.
coronet (n.) 1 small crown [inferior to one worn by the sovereign]


                         Royal Lear,

Whom I have ever honoured as my king,

Loved as my father, as my master followed,

As my great patron thought on in my prayers –


The bow is bent and drawn; make from the shaft.
make from (v.) [unclear meaning] avoid, beware; or: let go, release


Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
fork (n.) 2 barbed arrow-head

The region of my heart. Be Kent unmannerly

When Lear is mad. What wouldst thou do, old man?

Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak
power (n.) 3 authority, government

When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour's bound
plainness (n.) plain-speaking, openness, frankness

When majesty stoops to folly. Reserve thy state,
reserve (v.) preserve, retain, keep
state (n.) 6 kingship, majesty, sovereignty

And in thy best consideration check
check (v.) 2 restrain, stop, hold back

This hideous rashness. Answer my life my judgement,
answer (v.) 4 suffer the consequences [for], be accountable [for]
judgement (n.) 1 opinion, estimation, assessment

Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least,

Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sounds

Reverb no hollowness.
hollowness (n.) insincerity, hypocrisy, lip-service
reverb (v.) reverberate, re-echo, resound


                         Kent, on thy life, no more!


My life I never held but as a pawn
pawn (n.) pledge, surety, forfeit

To wage against thine enemies; nor fear to lose it,
wage (v.) 2 stake, hazard

Thy safety being motive.


                         Out of my sight!


See better, Lear, and let me still remain
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

The true blank of thine eye.
blank (n.) 1 bull's-eye, target centre; or: line of sight


Now by Apollo –


                         Now by Apollo, King,

Thou swear'st thy gods in vain.
miscreant (n.) 2 unbeliever, heretic
vassal (n.) 1 servant, slave, subject


                         O, vassal, miscreant!

He makes to strike him
forbear (v.) 1 stop, cease, desist See Topics: Frequency count


Dear sir, forbear!


Kill thy physician and thy fee bestow
bestow (v.) 1 give, provide, grant

Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift,
disease (n.) 3 mental illness, disturbance of mind

Or whilst I can vent clamour from my throat
clamor, clamour (n.) protest, complaint, outcry
vent (v.) 1 utter, express, air, proclaim

I'll tell thee thou dost evil.
recreant (n.) 3 heretic, unbeliever, apostate


                         Hear me, recreant,

On thine allegiance hear me!

Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow,

Which we durst never yet, and with strained pride
strained (adj.) 2 unnatural, excessive, exorbitant

To come betwixt our sentence and our power,
power (n.) 5 exercise of power, authoritative action
sentence (n.) 2 pronouncement, authoritative decision

Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,
place (n.) 1 position, post, office, rank See Topics: Frequency count

Our potency made good, take thy reward.
make good 3 hold, secure, make sure of
potency (n.) power, authority, command

Five days we do allot thee for provision

To shield thee from disasters of the world,

And on the sixth to turn thy hated back

Upon our kingdom. If on the tenth day following

Thy banished trunk be found in our dominions
dominion (n.) land, territory, province
trunk (n.) body, form, frame

The moment is thy death. Away! By Jupiter,

This shall not be revoked!


Fare thee well, King, sith thus thou wilt appear,

Freedom lives hence and banishment is here.

(To Cordelia)

The gods to their dear shelter take thee, maid,

That justly think'st and hast most rightly said.

(To Gonerill and Regan)
approve (v.) 1 prove, confirm, corroborate, substantiate
large (adj.) 5 grandiose, impressive sounding

And your large speeches may your deeds approve

That good effects may spring from words of love. –
effect (n.) 1 result, end, outcome, fulfilment

Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu;

He'll shape his old course in a country new.
course (n.) 1 course of action, way of proceeding See Topics: Frequency count


Flourish. Enter Gloucester with France and Burgundy,

and attendants


Here's France and Burgundy, my noble lord.


My lord of Burgundy,

We first address toward you, who with this king
address (v.) 4 make a formal address

Hath rivalled for our daughter: what in the least
rival (v.) act as a rival, compete

Will you require in present dower with her
dower (n.) dowry, property or wealth given with a wife

Or cease your quest of love?


                         Most royal majesty,

I crave no more than hath your highness offered,
crave (v.) 1 beg, entreat, request See Topics: Frequency count

Nor will you tender less.
tender (v.) 1 offer, give, present


                         Right noble Burgundy,

When she was dear to us we did hold her so;

But now her price is fallen. Sir, there she stands;

If aught within that little-seeming substance,
aught (n.) anything, [with negative word] nothing See Topics: Frequency count
little-seeming (adj.) [difficult meaning] of no account; or: who refuses to acknowledge appearances

Or all of it, with our displeasure pieced,
piece (v.) 1 add to, join to, augment

And nothing more, may fitly like your grace,
fitly (adv.) 1 justly, fittingly, aptly
like (v.) 1 please, suit See Topics: Politeness

She's there and she is yours.


                         I know no answer.


Will you with those infirmities she owes,
infirmity (n.) 1 defect, flaw, weakness
owe (v.) 1 own, possess, have See Topics: Frequency count

Unfriended, new-adopted to our hate,
unfriended (adj.) deprived of a friend, friendless

Dowered with our curse and strangered with our oath,
dower (v.) give a dower to, endow
stranger (v.) make a stranger to, disown, alienate

Take her or leave her?


                         Pardon me, royal sir,

Election makes not up in such conditions.
election (n.) choice, preference
make up (v.) 4 reconcile, settle, arrange


Then leave her, sir, for, by the power that made me,
power (n.) 9 (usually plural) gods, deities, divinities

I tell you all her wealth. (To France) For you, great king,

I would not from your love make such a stray

To match you where I hate; therefore beseech you

T' avert your liking a more worthier way
avert (v.) redirect, turn away

Than on a wretch whom Nature is ashamed

Almost t' acknowledge hers.


                         This is most strange,

That she whom even but now was your best object,

The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
argument (n.) 3 subject, point, theme, target

The best, the dearest, should in this trice of time
trice (n.) 1 brief period, moment, instant

Commit a thing so monstrous to dismantle
dismantle (v.) 1 strip off, remove, take away

So many folds of favour. Sure her offence
sure (adv.) 2 surely, assuredly, certainly

Must be of such unnatural degree
degree (n.) 4 measure, extent, amount
unnatural (adj.) 2 abnormal, monstrous, aberrant

That monsters it; or your fore-vouched affection
fore-vouched (adj.) previously declared, earlier affirmed
monster (v.) 1 make a monster of

Fall into taint; which to believe of her
taint (n.) 2 discredit, doubt, dispute

Must be a faith that reason without miracle

Could never plant in me.


                         I yet beseech your majesty –

If for I want that glib and oily art

To speak and purpose not, since what I well intend
purpose (v.) 2 intend to do, resolve to act
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without See Topics: Frequency count

I'll do't before I speak – that you make known

It is no vicious blot, murder or foulness,
foulness (n.) 2 immorality, impurity, depravity
vicious (adj.) 3 caused by vice, immoral, depraved

No unchaste action or dishonoured step
dishonoured (adj.) dishonourable, dishonouring, shameful

That hath deprived me of your grace and favour,

But even for want of that for which I am richer:
want (n.) 1 lack, shortage, dearth

A still-soliciting eye and such a tongue
still-soliciting (adj.) always begging, forever looking for favours

As I am glad I have not, though not to have it

Hath lost me in your liking.
lose (v.) 6 ruin the reputation of, destroy the credibility of


                         Better thou

Hadst not been born than not t' have pleased me better.


Is it but this, a tardiness in nature
tardiness (n.) reserve, reticence, hesitancy

Which often leaves the history unspoke
history (n.) 1 story, tale, narrative

That it intends to do? My lord of Burgundy,

What say you to the lady? Love's not love

When it is mingled with regards that stands
regard (n.) 2 consideration, respect, factor

Aloof from th' entire point. Will you have her?

She is herself a dowry.


                         Royal Lear,

Give but that portion which yourself proposed
portion (n.) 1 dowry, marriage gift, settlement

And here I take Cordelia by the hand,

Duchess of Burgundy.


Nothing! I have sworn; I am firm.


(to Cordelia)

I am sorry then you have so lost a father

That you must lose a husband.


                         Peace be with Burgundy!

Since that respect and fortunes are his love,
respect (n.) 4 esteem, status, honour

I shall not be his wife.


Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor,

Most choice, forsaken; and most loved, despised,

Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon.
seize, seize upon (v.) [legal] take possession of, take hold of

Be it lawful I take up what's cast away.

Gods, gods! 'Tis strange that from their cold'st neglect

My love should kindle to inflamed respect.
inflamed (adj.) 1 fervent, glowing, ardent
respect (n.) 3 regard, admiration, favour, opinion

Thy dowerless daughter, King, thrown to my chance,
dowerless (adj.) lacking a dowry

Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France.

Not all the dukes of waterish Burgundy
waterish (adj.) abounding in water; also: wishy-washy, watered down

Can buy this unprized-precious maid of me.
unprized-precious (adj.) highly valued though offered for no price, priceless

Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind.

Thou losest here, a better where to find.


Thou hast her, France; let her be thine, for we

Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see

That face of hers again. Therefore be gone,

Without our grace, our love, our benison!
benison (n.) blessing, benediction

Come, noble Burgundy.

Flourish. Exeunt Lear, Burgundy, Cornwall, Albany,

Gloucester, and attendants


Bid farewell to your sisters.


The jewels of our father, with washed eyes

Cordelia leaves you. I know you what you are;

And, like a sister, am most loath to call

Your faults as they are named. Love well our father!

To your professed bosoms I commit him.
professed (adj.) with avowed affection, displaying openly declared love

But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,

I would prefer him to a better place.

So farewell to you both.


Prescribe not us our duty.
study (n.) 1 aim, object, purpose


                         Let your study

Be to content your lord, who hath received you
content (v.) 1 please, gratify, delight, satisfy

At Fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted,
scant (v.) 1 neglect, stint, withhold

And well are worth the want that you have wanted.
want (n.) 1 lack, shortage, dearth


Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides;
plighted (adj.) 2 folded, hidden; also: solemnly pledged
unfold (v.) 2 identify, disclose, reveal

Who covers faults, at last with shame derides.

Well may you prosper!


                         Come, my fair Cordelia.

Exeunt France and Cordelia


Sister, it is not little I have to say of what most

nearly appertains to us both. I think our father will
appertain (v.) pertain, relate
nearly (adv.) closely, particularly, especially

hence tonight.


That's most certain, and with you; next month

with us.


You see how full of changes his age is. The
change (n.) 4 change of mind, changeableness, caprice

observation we have made of it hath not been little. He

always loved our sister most; and with what poor judgement

he hath now cast her off appears too grossly.
grossly (adv.) 1 openly, blatantly, brazenly


'Tis the infirmity of his age. Yet he hath ever but

slenderly known himself.
slenderly (adv.) poorly, inadequately, to a slight extent


The best and soundest of his time hath been
time (n.) 3 lifetime, life

but rash. Then must we look from his age to receive not
look (v.) 1 expect, anticipate, hope, await the time

alone the imperfections of long-ingraffed condition, but
long-ingraffed (adj.) long-implanted, long-engrafted, habitual

therewithal the unruly waywardness that infirm and
waywardness (n.) perversity, wrong-headedness, capriciousness

choleric years bring with them.
choleric (adj.) 1 inclined to anger, hot-tempered, irascible


Such unconstant starts are we like to have from
like (adv.) 1 likely, probable / probably See Topics: Frequency count
start (n.) 2 outburst, eruption, fit, reaction
unconstant (adj.) changeable, fickle, unpredictable

him as this of Kent's banishment.


There is further compliment of leave-taking
compliment, complement (n.) 2 ceremony, etiquette, protocol

between France and him. Pray you, let us hit together.
hit (v.) 3 agree, be in accord; or: strive, aim

If our father carry authority with such disposition as he
carry (v.) 11 wield, exercise, exert
disposition (n.) 3 inclination, mood, frame of mind

bears, this last surrender of his will but offend us.
offend (v.) 1 harm, hurt, pain
surrender (n.) giving up, resignation [of power]


We shall further think of it.


We must do something, and i'th' heat.
heat, in the while feeling heated, while worked up


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