King Lear

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Edmund and Curan by opposite doors


Save thee, Curan.


And you, sir. I have been with your father and

given him notice that the Duke of Cornwall and Regan

his Duchess will be here with him this night.


How comes that?


Nay, I know not. You have heard of the news

abroad – I mean the whispered ones, for they are yet but
abroad (adv.) 1 in the outside world, freely at large, elsewhere, everywhere

ear-kissing arguments?
argument (n.) 1 subject of conversation, subject-matter, topic
ear-bussing, ear-kissing (adj.) ear-kissing, reaching the ear only as rumours


Not I. Pray you what are they?


Have you heard of no likely wars toward 'twixt
toward (adv.) impending, forthcoming, in preparation

the Dukes of Cornwall and Albany?


Not a word.


You may do, then, in time. Fare you well, sir.



The Duke be here tonight! The better! best!

This weaves itself perforce into my business.
perforce (adv.) 2 of necessity, with no choice in the matter See Topics: Frequency count

My father hath set guard to take my brother,

And I have one thing of a queasy question
queasy (adj.) 3 uncertain, hazardous; or: delicate, ticklish
question (n.) 2 point at issue, problem, business

Which I must act. Briefness and fortune work! –
briefness (n.) speedy action, promptness

Brother, a word! Descend! Brother, I say!

Enter Edgar
watch (v.) 2 keep the watch, keep guard, be on the look-out

My father watches. O, sir, fly this place;

Intelligence is given where you are hid.
intelligence (n.) 1 information, news, communication

You have now the good advantage of the night.

Have you not spoken 'gainst the Duke of Cornwall?

He's coming hither now, i'the night, i'th' haste,

And Regan with him. Have you nothing said

Upon his party 'gainst the Duke of Albany?
party (n.) 1 side, faction, camp
upon (prep.) 4 on the side of

Advise yourself.
advise, avise (v.) 1 consider, take thought, reflect


                         I am sure on't, not a word.


I hear my father coming. Pardon me;

In cunning I must draw my sword upon you.
cunning (n.) 5 ploy, ruse, clever device

Draw! Seem to defend yourself! Now quit you well.
quit (v.) 10 acquit, do one's part, bear [oneself]


Yield! Come before my father! Light, ho, here!

(Aside) Fly, brother! (Aloud) Torches, torches! (Aside) So farewell.

Exit Edgar

Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion
beget (v.), past form begot 2 produce, engender, give rise to

Of my more fierce endeavour. I have seen drunkards

Do more than this in sport.

He wounds himself in the arm
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count


                         Father, father! –

Stop, stop! – No help?

Enter Gloucester and servants with torches


                         Now, Edmund, where's the villain?


Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out,

Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon

To stand auspicious mistress.
stand (v.) 9 act as, be, hold good as


                         But where is he?


Look, sir, I bleed.


                         Where is the villain, Edmund?


Fled this way, sir, when by no means he could –


Pursue him, ho! Go after.

Exeunt some servants

                         ‘ By no means ’ what?


Persuade me to the murder of your lordship;

But that I told him the revenging gods

'Gainst parricides did all the thunder bend,
bend (v.) 1 aim, direct, level, turn
parricide (n.) 2 patricide, father-murderer

Spoke with how manifold and strong a bond

The child was bound to the father – sir, in fine,
fine, in in the end, finally, in conclusion See Topics: Discourse markers

Seeing how loathly opposite I stood
loathly (adv.) with such loathing, with detestation
opposite (adj.) opposed, hostile, adverse, antagonistic [to]

To his unnatural purpose, in fell motion
fell (adj.) 1 cruel, fierce, savage
motion (n.) 10 [fencing] attack, execution
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count
unnatural (adj.) 1 against natural feeling, not in accord with kinship

With his prepared sword he charges home
home (adv.) 1 fully, thoroughly, unsparingly
prepared (adj.) drawn, ready for action

My unprovided body, latched mine arm:
latch (v.) 2 catch, nick
unprovided (adj.) 1 unprepared, unprotected, undefended

But when he saw my best alarumed spirits
alarumed (adj.) galvanized, activated, stirred to action

Bold in the quarrel's right, roused to th' encounter,
right (n.) 2 justice, rightfulness, justification

Or whether gasted by the noise I made,
gast (v.) frighten, alarm, scare

Full suddenly he fled.


                         Let him fly far,

Not in this land shall he remain uncaught;

And found – dispatch. The noble Duke, my master,
dispatch, despatch (v.) 1 deal with promptly, settle, get [something] done quickly

My worthy arch and patron, comes tonight.
arch (n.) chief, master, lord

By his authority I will proclaim it

That he which finds him shall deserve our thanks,

Bringing the murderous coward to the stake;
stake (n.) 1 place of execution

He that conceals him, death.


When I dissuaded him from his intent,
intent (n.) intention, purpose, aim See Topics: Frequency count

And found him pight to do it, with curst speech
curst (adj.) 2 angry, furious, fierce
pight (adj.) 1 determined, set, fixed

I threatened to discover him. He replied,
discover (v.) 3 expose, uncover, give away

‘ Thou unpossessing bastard, dost thou think,
unpossessing (adj.) unable to inherit property

If I would stand against thee, would the reposal
reposal (n.) reposing, placing, desposit

Of any trust, virtue, or worth in thee

Make thy words faithed? No, what I should deny –
faith (v.) believe, trust, credit

As this I would; ay, though thou didst produce

My very character – I'd turn it all
character (n.) 3 handwriting, style of writing, lettering

To thy suggestion, plot, and damned practice;
practice (n.) 1 scheme, plot, stratagem, intrigue
suggestion (n.) temptation, instigation, prompting towards evil

And thou must make a dullard of the world

If they not thought the profits of my death

Were very pregnant and potential spurs
potential (adj.) powerful, mighty, strong
pregnant (adj.) 4 meaningful, compelling, convincing

To make thee seek it.’
fastened (adj.) determined, steadfast, confirmed
strange (adj.) 1 remarkable, startling, abnormal, unnatural
strong (adj.) 5 flagrant, barefaced; or: resolute, determined


                         O strange and fastened villain!

Would he deny his letter, said he? I never got him.
get (v.) 1 beget, conceive, breed

Tucket within

Hark, the Duke's trumpets! I know not why he comes. –

All ports I'll bar; the villain shall not 'scape.
port (n.) 1 portal, entrance, gateway
scape, 'scape (v.) escape, avoid See Topics: Frequency count

The Duke must grant me that. Besides, his picture
picture (n.) 3 description

I will send far and near, that all the kingdom

May have due note of him; and of my land,

Loyal and natural boy, I'll work the means
loyal (adj.) legitimate; faithful
natural (adj.) 1 feeling proper affection, having normal feelings

To make thee capable.
capable (adj.) 3 able to inherit, entitled to possess property

Enter Cornwall, Regan, and attendants


How now, my noble friend? Since I came hither –

Which I can call but now – I have heard strange news.


If it be true, all vengeance comes too short

Which can pursue th' offender. How dost, my lord?


O madam, my old heart is cracked; it's cracked.
cracked (adj.) 2 broken, crushed, fractured


What, did my father's godson seek your life?

He whom my father named? your Edgar?


O, lady, lady, shame would have it hid!


Was he not companion with the riotous knights

That tended upon my father?
tend on / upon (v.) serve, follow, wait upon, escort


I know not, madam. 'Tis too bad, too bad!


Yes, madam, he was of that consort.
consort (n.) 2 company, mob, crew


No marvel then though he were ill affected.
affected (adj.) 1 disposed, inclined, minded
ill (adv.) 1 badly, adversely, unfavourably See Topics: Frequency count

'Tis they have put him on the old man's death,
put on (v.) 1 instigate, provoke, incite

To have th' expense and waste of his revenues.
expense (n.) 2 spending, using up, laying out
revenue (n.) 1 income, yield, profit

I have this present evening from my sister

Been well informed of them, and with such cautions

That if they come to sojourn at my house
sojourn (v.) 1 pause, reside, stay for a while

I'll not be there.


                         Nor I, assure thee, Regan.

Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father

A child-like office.
office (n.) 1 task, service, duty, responsibility See Topics: Frequency count


                         It was my duty, sir.


He did bewray his practice, and received
bewray (v.) 1 betray, reveal, expose
practice (n.) 2 trickery, treachery

This hurt you see, striving to apprehend him.


Is he pursued?


                         Ay, my good lord.


If he be taken he shall never more

Be feared of doing harm. Make your own purpose
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count

How in my strength you please. For you, Edmund,
strength (n.) 1 troops, forces, resources, followers

Whose virtue and obedience doth this instant

So much commend itself, you shall be ours.
commend (v.) 3 present, introduce, bring [for favourable acceptance]

Natures of such deep trust we shall much need;
nature (n.) 5 personality, innate disposition, character

You we first seize on.


                         I shall serve you, sir,

Truly, however else.


                         For him I thank your grace.


You know not why we came to visit you –


Thus out of season, threading dark-eyed night –
season, out of (adj./adv.) 2 inopportunely, inappropriately, inconveniently
thread (v.) trace a path through, make a way through

Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some price,
occasion (n.) 2 ground, reason, cause, matter
poise (n.) 3 weight, importance, gravity
price (n.) value, worth, importance

Wherein we must have use of your advice.

Our father he hath writ, so hath our sister,

Of differences, which I best thought it fit

To answer from our home. The several messengers
several (adj.) 2 various, sundry, respective, individual

From hence attend dispatch. Our good old friend,
attend (v.) 1 await, wait for, expect See Topics: Frequency count
dispatch, despatch (n.) 5 dismissal, leave to go

Lay comforts to your bosom, and bestow

Your needful counsel to our businesses,

Which craves the instant use.
crave (v.) 2 need, demand, require


                         I serve you, madam.

Your graces are right welcome.


  Previous scene     Next scene