King Lear

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Kent and Oswald by opposite doors
dawning (n.) dawn, daybreak, early morning See Topics: Greetings


Good dawning to thee, friend. Art of this house?




Where may we set our horses?


I'the mire.


Prithee, if thou lovest me, tell me.


I love thee not.


Why then, I care not for thee.


If I had thee in Lipsbury pinfold, I would make thee
Lipsbury (n.) [unclear meaning; perhaps: ‘lips-town’] space between the lips, jaws
pinfold (n.) pound, place for keeping stray animals

care for me.


Why dost thou use me thus? I know thee not.
use (v.) 2 treat, deal with, manage


Fellow, I know thee.


What dost thou know me for?


A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats, a base,
base (adj.) 2 low-born, lowly, plebeian, of lower rank See Topics: Frequency count
broken (adj.) 3 fragmentary, left-over
knave (n.) 1 scoundrel, rascal, rogue See Topics: Frequency count
meat (n.) 3 foodstuff, fodder, scraps

proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound,
three-suited (adj.) allowed three suits a year; servile

filthy-worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking,
action-taking (adj.) taking legal action, litigious
worsted (adj.) made of woollen fabric [inferior to silk]

whoreson glass-gazing super-serviceable finical
finical (adj.) nit-picking, fussy, over-particular
glass-gazing (adj.) admiring oneself in the mirror
super-serviceable (adj.) offering service beyond what is needed, officious
whoreson (adj.) [abusive intensifier, serious or jocular] bastard, wretched, vile See Topics: Swearing

rogue, one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a

bawd in way of good service, and art nothing but the
bawd (n.) pimp, procurer, pander, go-between See Topics: Frequency count

composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pander, and
composition (n.) 1 constitution, make-up, state [of mind and body]
pander, pandar (n.) pimp, procurer, go-between

the son and heir of a mongrel bitch; one whom I will

beat into clamorous whining if thou deniest the least

syllable of thy addition.
addition (n.) 2 attribute, mark of honour, distinction [as if added to a coat of arms]


Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou thus to rail

on one that is neither known of thee nor knows thee!
rail (v.) rant, rave, be abusive [about] See Topics: Frequency count


What a brazen-faced varlet art thou, to deny thou
brazen-faced (adj.) shameless, unblushing, unabashed
varlet (n.) 1 knave, rogue, rascal, ruffian

knowest me! Is it two days since I tripped up thy heels

and beat thee before the King? Draw, you rogue! For

though it be night, yet the moon shines. I'll make a sop
sop (n.) piece of bread or cake steeped in liquid [before being eaten]

o'the moonshine of you, you whoreson cullionly
barber-monger (n.) frequenter of the barber-shop
cullionly (adj.) like a cullion [= rogue], rascally, despicable
moonshine (n.) 1 moonlight

barber-monger! Draw!

He brandishes his sword


Away! I have nothing to do with thee.


Draw, you rascal! You come with letters against the

King, and take Vanity the puppet's part against the

royalty of her father. Draw, you rogue! or I'll so

carbonado your shanks – Draw, you rascal! Come your
carbonado (v.) slash, cut [as if preparing meat for grilling]



Help, ho! Murder! Help!


Strike, you slave!

Oswald tries to escape
neat (adj.) 1 posh, elegant, trim, refined
stand (v.) 13 make a stand [against], fight, resist

Stand, rogue! Stand, you neat slave! Strike!

He beats him


Help, ho! Murder! Murder!

Enter Edmund, Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, and



How now! What's the matter? Part!


With you, goodman boy, and you please! Come, I'll
goodman (adj.) 1 title for a person under the rank of gentleman, yeoman See Topics: Address forms

flesh ye; come on, young master.
flesh (v.) 2 initiate, introduce [to bloodshed]


Weapons? Arms? What's the matter here?


Keep peace, upon your lives!

He dies that strikes again. What is the matter?


The messengers from our sister and the King –


What is your difference? Speak.
difference (n.) 1 quarrel, disagreement, dispute


I am scarce in breath, my lord.


No marvel, you have so bestirred your valour. You
bestir (v.) arouse, rouse, make active

cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee: a tailor made
disclaim (v.) disown, repudiate, renounce [connection with]



Thou art a strange fellow. A tailor make a



Ay tailor, sir. A stone-cutter or a painter could not

have made him so ill, though they had been but two
ill (adv.) 1 badly, adversely, unfavourably See Topics: Frequency count

years o'the trade.

CORNWALL (to Oswald)

(to Oswald)

Speak yet, how grew your



This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have

spared at suit of his grey beard –
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count


Thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter! My

lord, if you will give me leave, I will tread this unbolted
unbolted (adj.) unsifted, unkneaded, lumpy

villain into mortar and daub the wall of a jakes with him.
daub (v.) 1 bedaub, smear, defile
jakes (n.) lavatory, privy, latrine

‘ Spare my grey beard,’ you wagtail!
wagtail (n.) [contemptuous form of address] tail-wagger, bower and scraper


Peace, sirrah!

You beastly knave, know you no reverence?
beastly (adj.) beast-like, brutish, abominable
knave (n.) 1 scoundrel, rascal, rogue See Topics: Frequency count


Yes, sir; but anger hath a privilege.


Why art thou angry?


That such a slave as this should wear a sword

Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these,

Like rats, oft bite the holy cords atwain,
atwain, a twain (adv.) in two, into two parts
oft (adv.) often See Topics: Frequency count

Which are t' intrinse t' unloose; smooth every passion
intrinse (adj.) intricate, involved; or: inward, secret
smooth (v.) 3 indulge, humour, allay, flatter

That in the natures of their lords rebel,

Bring oil to fire, snow to their colder moods,

Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks
halcyon (n.) kingfisher
renege (v.) 2 deny, refuse, decline

With every gale and vary of their masters,
gale (n.) wind, breeze
vary (n.) variation, vacillation, shifting

Knowing naught – like dogs – but following. –

A plague upon your epileptic visage!
visage (n.) 1 face, countenance See Topics: Frequency count

Smile you my speeches as I were a fool?
smile (v.) 2 laugh at, mock, sneer at

Goose, if I had you upon Sarum Plain,

I'd drive ye cackling home to Camelot.


What, art thou mad, old fellow?


How fell you out? Say that.


No contraries hold more antipathy

Than I and such a knave.
knave (n.) 1 scoundrel, rascal, rogue See Topics: Frequency count


Why dost thou call him knave? What is his fault?


His countenance likes me not.
countenance (n.) 3 appearance, aspect, look
like (v.) 1 please, suit See Topics: Politeness


No more perchance does mine, nor his, nor hers.
perchance (adv.) 1 perhaps, maybe See Topics: Frequency count


Sir, 'tis my occupation to be plain.
occupation (n.) 2 calling, habit, business

I have seen better faces in my time

Than stands on any shoulder that I see

Before me at this instant.


                         This is some fellow

Who, having been praised for bluntness, doth affect
affect (v.) 3 assume, display, put on, practise in an artificial way

A saucy roughness, and constrains the garb
constrain (v.) 1 force, compel, oblige
garb (n.) manner, style, fashion
saucy (adj.) 1 insolent, impudent, presumptuous, defiant

Quite from his nature. He cannot flatter, he!

An honest mind and plain – he must speak truth!

And they will take it, so; if not, he's plain.
take (v.) 13 put up with, accept

These kind of knaves I know, which in this plainness
knave (n.) 1 scoundrel, rascal, rogue See Topics: Frequency count

Harbour more craft and more corrupter ends

Than twenty silly-ducking observants
observant (n.) ingratiating attendant, obsequious servant
silly-ducking (adj.) foolishly bowing, ridiculously obsequious

That stretch their duties nicely.
nicely (adv.) 1 scrupulously, punctiliously, meticulously, fastidiously
stretch (v.) 1 strain to the utmost, maximally exert


Sir, in good faith, in sincere verity,

Under th' allowance of your great aspect,
allowance (n.) 2 permission, approval, sanction
aspect (n.) 4 [astrology] influential phase, direction of alignment See Topics: Cosmos

Whose influence like the wreath of radiant fire

On flickering Phoebus' front –
front (n.) 1 forehead, face


                         What mean'st by this?


To go out of my dialect which you discommend so
discommend (v.) find fault with, disapprove of, criticize

much. I know, sir, I am no flatterer. He that beguiled
beguile (v.) 3 charm, captivate, bewitch

you in a plain accent was a plain knave; which, for my

part, I will not be, though I should win your displeasure

to entreat me to't.


What was th' offence you gave him?


I never gave him any.

It pleased the King his master very late
late (adv.) recently, a little while ago / before

To strike at me upon his misconstruction,
misconstruction (n.) misunderstanding, misinterpretation

When he, compact, and flattering his displeasure,
compact (adj.) 1 allied, in league, in collusion
conjunct (adj.) coupled, conjoined, united

Tripped me behind; being down, insulted, railed,
rail (v.) rant, rave, be abusive [about] See Topics: Frequency count

And put upon him such a deal of man
deal (n.) amount, quantity

That worthied him, got praises of the King
worthy (v.) make worthy, give honour to

For him attempting who was self-subdued;
attempt (v.) 2 attack, assail, subdue
self-subdued (adj.) unresisting, offering no opposition

And in the fleshment of this dread exploit
dread (adj.) 2 frightening, terrifying, fearful
fleshment (n.) first achievement, successful accomplishment

Drew on me here again.


                         None of these rogues and cowards

But Ajax is their fool.


                         Fetch forth the stocks!

You stubborn ancient knave, you reverend braggart,
knave (n.) 1 scoundrel, rascal, rogue See Topics: Frequency count
reverend (adj.) revered, worthy, respected

We'll teach you –


                         Sir, I am too old to learn.

Call not your stocks for me. I serve the King,

On whose employment I was sent to you.

You shall do small respect, show too bold malice

Against the grace and person of my master,

Stocking his messenger.
stock (v.) put in the stocks


Fetch forth the stocks! As I have life and honour,

There shall he sit till noon.


Till noon? Till night, my lord, and all night too.


Why, madam, if I were your father's dog

You should not use me so.
knave (n.) 2 servant, menial, lackey
use (v.) 2 treat, deal with, manage


                         Sir, being his knave, I will.


This is a fellow of the selfsame colour
colour (n.) 5 type, kind, nature

Our sister speaks of. Come, bring away the stocks.
bring away (v.) fetch, bring along

Stocks brought out


Let me beseech your grace not to do so.

His fault is much, and the good King, his master,

Will check him for't. Your purposed low correction
check (v.) 1 rebuke, scold, reprimand
low (adj.) 1 humble, lowly, inferior
purposed (adj.) 1 proposed, intended, contemplated

Is such as basest and contemned'st wretches
base (adj.) 2 low-born, lowly, plebeian, of lower rank See Topics: Frequency count
contemned (adj.) 1 despised, contemptible, despicable

For pilferings and most common trespasses

Are punished with. The King must take it ill
ill (adv.) 1 badly, adversely, unfavourably See Topics: Frequency count

That he, so slightly valued in his messenger,

Should have him thus restrained.
answer (v.) 4 suffer the consequences [for], be accountable [for]


                         I'll answer that.


My sister may receive it much more worse

To have her gentleman abused, assaulted,

For following her affairs. – Put in his legs.

Kent is put in the stocks

Come, my lord, away.

Exeunt all but Gloucester and Kent


I am sorry for thee, friend. 'Tis the Duke's pleasure,

Whose disposition all the world well knows
disposition (n.) 3 inclination, mood, frame of mind

Will not be rubbed nor stopped. I'll entreat for thee.
rub (v.) 1 hinder, impede, sidetrack


Pray do not, sir. I have watched and travelled hard.
watch (v.) 1 stay awake, keep vigil

Some time I shall sleep out, the rest I'll whistle.

A good man's fortune may grow out at heels.

Give you good morrow!
blame, to to be blamed, blameworthy
morrow (n.) morning See Topics: Frequency count


                         The Duke's to blame in this.

'Twill be ill taken.



Good King, that must approve the common saw,
approve (v.) 1 prove, confirm, corroborate, substantiate
saw (n.) wise saying, platitude, maxim

Thou out of Heaven's benediction comest
benediction (n.) 2 blessing, happiness, prosperity

To the warm sun.

Approach, thou beacon to this under globe,

That by thy comfortable beams I may
comfortable (adj.) 2 comforting, encouraging, reassuring

Peruse this letter. Nothing almost sees miracles
nothing (n.) 4 no-one, nobody

But misery. I know 'tis from Cordelia,

Who hath most fortunately been informed

course (n.) 1 course of action, way of proceeding See Topics: Frequency count
obscured (adj.) disguised, covert, incognito

Of my obscured course, and ‘ shall find time

From this enormous state, seeking to give
enormous (adj.) disorderly, abnormal, monstrous
state (n.) 1 condition, circumstances, situation, state of affairs

Losses their remedies.’ All weary and o'erwatched,
overwatched (adj.) wearied from too much watching, exhausted from lack of sleep

Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold
heavy (adj.) 4 weary, exhausted, worn out
vantage (n.) 1 right moment, suitable opportunity

This shameful lodging.

Fortune, good night: smile once more; turn thy wheel.

He sleeps

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