King Lear

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Kent still in the stocks

Enter Lear, the Fool, and a Gentleman


'Tis strange that they should so depart from home
still (adv.) 2 ever, now [as before]

And not send back my messengers.


                         As I learned,

The night before there was no purpose in them
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count

Of this remove.
remove (n.) 1 change of residence, departure


                         Hail to thee, noble master!



Makest thou this shame thy pastime?


                         No, my lord.


Ha, ha! He wears cruel garters. Horses are tied by
crewel (adj.) made of a thin coloured worsted yarn

the heads, dogs and bears by the neck, monkeys by the

loins, and men by the legs. When a man's over-lusty at
over-lusty (adj.) 1 too vigorous, over-active

legs, then he wears wooden nether-stocks.
nether-stock (n.) stocking for the lower leg


What's he that hath so much thy place mistook
place (n.) 1 position, post, office, rank See Topics: Frequency count

To set thee here?


                         It is both he and she;

Your son and daughter.






No, I say.


I say yea.


No, no, they would not.


Yes, they have.


By Jupiter, I swear no!


By Juno, I swear ay!


                         They durst not do't;

They could not, would not do't; 'tis worse than murder

To do upon respect such violent outrage.
respect, upon with consideration, deliberately

Resolve me with all modest haste which way
modest (adj.) 1 moderate, reasonable, mild, limited
resolve (v.) 3 inform, tell

Thou mightst deserve or they impose this usage,

Coming from us.


                         My lord, when at their home

I did commend your highness' letters to them,
commend (v.) 3 present, introduce, bring [for favourable acceptance]

Ere I was risen from the place that showed

My duty kneeling, came there a reeking post,
post (n.) 1 express messenger, courier See Topics: Frequency count
reeking (adj.) 1 sweaty, heated, perspiring

Stewed in his haste, half breathless, panting forth
stewed (adj.) drenched, soaked, steeped

From Gonerill his mistress salutations;

Delivered letters, spite of intermission,
intermission (n.) 3 interruption; or: pausing
presently (adv.) 1 immediately, instantly, at once See Topics: Frequency count

Which presently they read; on whose contents

They summoned up their meiny, straight took horse,
meiny (n.) 2 household retinue, followers
straight (adv.) straightaway, immediately, at once See Topics: Frequency count

Commanded me to follow and attend
attend (v.) 1 await, wait for, expect See Topics: Frequency count

The leisure of their answer, gave me cold looks;

And meeting here the other messenger,

Whose welcome I perceived had poisoned mine –

Being the very fellow which of late
late, of recently, a little while ago

Displayed so saucily against your highness –
display (v.) 1 act, behave, carry on
saucily (adv.) presumptuously, cheekily, impudently

Having more man than wit about me, drew.
man (n.) 3 manliness, courage, valour
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

He raised the house with loud and coward cries.

Your son and daughter found this trespass worth

The shame which here it suffers.
suffer (v.) 3 undergo, sustain, endure


Winter's not gone yet if the wild geese fly that way.

Fathers that wear rags

Do make their children blind,

But fathers that bear bags
bag (n.) money-bag, purse

Shall see their children kind.

Fortune, that arrant whore,
arrant (adj.) downright, absolute, unmitigated See Topics: Frequency count

Ne'er turns the key to the poor.

But for all this thou shalt have as many dolours for thy
dolour (n.) sorrow, grief, lamentation

daughters as thou canst tell in a year.
tell (v.) 1 count out, number, itemize
tell (v.) 4 communicate, make known


O, how this mother swells up toward my heart!

Hysterica passio, down, thou climbing sorrow!
hysterica passio [Latin: hysterical passion] hysteria

Thy element's below. Where is this daughter?
element (n.) 7 place, sphere, station


With the Earl, sir, here within.


Follow me not; stay here.



Made you no more offence but what you speak of?



How chance the King comes with so small a number?
chance (v.) 1 happen [to], transpire, come about


And thou hadst been set i'the stocks for that question,

thou'dst well deserved it.


Why, Fool?


We'll set thee to school to an ant to teach thee

there's no labouring i'the winter. All that follow their

noses are led by their eyes, but blind men; and there's

not a nose among twenty but can smell him that's

stinking. Let go thy hold when a great wheel runs down

a hill, lest it break thy neck with following. But the great

one that goes upward, let him draw thee after. When a

wise man gives thee better counsel, give me mine again;

I would ha' none but knaves use it, since a fool gives it.
knave (n.) 1 scoundrel, rascal, rogue See Topics: Frequency count

That sir which serves and seeks for gain,
sir (n.) 1 man, person, individual

And follows but for form,
form (n.) 8 physical appearance, outward appearance

Will pack when it begins to rain,
pack (v.) 1 take [oneself] off, be off, depart

And leave thee in the storm;

But I will tarry, the fool will stay,

And let the wise man fly.

The knave turns fool that runs away;

The fool no knave, perdy.


Where learned you this, Fool?


Not i'the stocks, fool.

Enter Lear and Gloucester
deny (v.) 2 refuse, decline, scorn


Deny to speak with me? They are sick; they are weary?

They have travelled all the night? Mere fetches,
fetch (n.) 1 dodge, stratagem, contrivance
mere (adj.) 1 complete, total, absolute, utter See Topics: Frequency count

The images of revolt and flying-off.
flying-off (n.) desertion, defection, forsaking
image (n.) 1 embodiment, instance, form

Fetch me a better answer.


                         My dear lord,

You know the fiery quality of the Duke,
quality (n.) 1 nature, disposition, character

How unremovable and fixed he is
unremovable (adj.) immovable, firm, constant

In his own course.
confusion (n.) 1 destruction, overthrow, ruin
course (n.) 1 course of action, way of proceeding See Topics: Frequency count


                         Vengeance, plague, death, confusion!

‘ Fiery ’? What ‘ quality ’? Why, Gloucester, Gloucester,

I'd speak with the Duke of Cornwall and his wife.


Well, my good lord, I have informed them so.


‘ Informed them ’! Dost thou understand me, man?


Ay, my good lord.


The King would speak with Cornwall, the dear father

Would with his daughter speak, commands, tends, service.
tend (v.) 2 await, wait in expectation

Are they ‘ informed ’ of this? My breath and blood!

‘ Fiery ’? The ‘ fiery ’ Duke? Tell the hot Duke that –
hot (adj.) 1 hot-tempered, angry, passionate

No, but not yet! Maybe he is not well.

Infirmity doth still neglect all office
office (n.) 1 task, service, duty, responsibility See Topics: Frequency count
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

Whereto our health is bound; we are not ourselves

When nature, being oppressed, commands the mind
nature (n.) 2 natural powers, normal state [of mind and body]

To suffer with the body. I'll forbear;
forbear (v.) 3 control oneself, have patience [for]

And am fallen out with my more headier will
heady (adj.) 2 reckless, headstrong, impulsive

To take the indisposed and sickly fit

For the sound man. – Death on my state! wherefore

Should he sit here? This act persuades me

That this remotion of the Duke and her
remotion (n.) removal, departure; or: remoteness

Is practice only. Give me my servant forth.
practice (n.) 1 scheme, plot, stratagem, intrigue

Go tell the Duke and's wife I'd speak with them –

Now presently! Bid them come forth and hear me,
presently (adv.) 1 immediately, instantly, at once See Topics: Frequency count

Or at their chamber door I'll beat the drum

Till it cry sleep to death.


I would have all well betwixt you.



O me, my heart, my rising heart! But down!


Cry to it, nuncle, as the cockney did to the eels
cockney (n.) 1 squeamish woman, pampered lady

when she put 'em i'the paste alive. She knapped 'em
knap (v.) 1 hit, knock, rap
paste (n.) pastry, doughy mixture

o'the coxcombs with a stick and cried ‘ Down, wantons,
wanton (n.) 4 wilful creature, obstinate individual

down!’ 'Twas her brother that in pure kindness to his

horse buttered his hay.
butter (v.) spread butter on

Enter Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, and servants
morrow (n.) morning See Topics: Frequency count


Good morrow to you both.


                         Hail to your grace.

Kent is here set at liberty


I am glad to see your highness.


Regan, I think you are. I know what reason

I have to think so. If thou shouldst not be glad,

I would divorce me from thy mother's tomb,

Sepulchring an adult'ress. (To Kent) O, are you free?
sepulchre (v.) 2 serve as a burial-place for

Some other time for that. – Beloved Regan,

Thy sister's naught. O Regan, she hath tied

Sharp-toothed unkindness like a vulture here –

(laying his hand on his heart)

I can scarce speak to thee – thou'lt not believe

With how depraved a quality – O Regan!
quality (n.) 1 nature, disposition, character


I pray you, sir, take patience. I have hope

You less know how to value her desert
desert, desart (n.) 3 worthy deed, meritorious action

Than she to scant her duty.
scant (v.) 1 neglect, stint, withhold


                         Say? How is that?


I cannot think my sister in the least

Would fail her obligation. If, sir, perchance,

She have restrained the riots of your followers,
perchance (adv.) 1 perhaps, maybe See Topics: Frequency count

'Tis on such ground and to such wholesome end
wholesome (adj.) 2 reasonable, sensible, rational

As clears her from all blame.


My curses on her.


                         O sir, you are old.

Nature in you stands on the very verge
nature (n.) 3 human nature

Of his confine. You should be ruled and led
confine (n.) 2 limit, bound, domain

By some discretion that discerns your state
state (n.) 1 condition, circumstances, situation, state of affairs

Better than you yourself. Therefore I pray you

That to our sister you do make return.

Say you have wronged her.


                         Ask her forgiveness?

Do you but mark how this becomes the house:
become (v.) 2 grace, honour, dignify See Topics: Frequency count
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

(he kneels)

‘ Dear daughter, I confess that I am old;

Age is unnecessary; on my knees I beg

That you'll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food.’
raiment (n.) clothing, clothes, dress


Good sir, no more! These are unsightly tricks.

Return you to my sister.

LEAR (rising)


                         Never, Regan.

She hath abated me of half my train,
abate (v.) 3 deprive, strip, dispossess

Looked black upon me, struck me with her tongue,

Most serpent-like, upon the very heart.

All the stored vengeances of heaven fall

On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones,
ingrateful (adj.) 1 ungrateful, unappreciative
top (n.) 2 head

You taking airs, with lameness!
air (n.) 6 vapour, mist, exhalation
taking (adj.) infectious, contagious, pernicious


                         Fie, sir, fie!


You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames
dart (v.) hurl like an arrow

Into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty,

You fen-sucked fogs drawn by the powerful sun,
fen-sucked (adj.) rising from marshes

To fall and blister.


                         O the blest gods!

So will you wish on me when the rash mood is on.


No, Regan, thou shalt never have my curse.

Thy tender-hefted nature shall not give
tender-hefted (adj.) [haft = handle] set in a delicate bodily frame; tender-hearted, gentle

Thee o'er to harshness. Her eyes are fierce; but thine

Do comfort, and not burn. 'Tis not in thee

To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train,
cut off (v.) 1 remove, take away, reduce

To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,
bandy (v.) 1 exchange, swap, send to and fro
scant (v.) 3 give out sparingly, curtail, withhold [from]
size (n.) 3 allowance, ration, quota

And in conclusion, to oppose the bolt

Against my coming in. Thou better knowest

The offices of nature, bond of childhood,
childhood (n.) filial relationship, duty owed to parents
office (n.) 1 task, service, duty, responsibility See Topics: Frequency count

Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude.
effect (n.) 3 sign, mark, token, manifestation

Thy half o'the kingdom hast thou not forgot,

Wherein I thee endowed.
purpose (n.) 2 point at issue, matter in hand


                         Good sir, to the purpose.


Who put my man i'the stocks?

Tucket within


                         What trumpet's that?


I know't – my sister's. This approves her letter
approve (v.) 1 prove, confirm, corroborate, substantiate

That she would soon be here.

Enter Oswald

                         Is your lady come?


This is a slave whose easy-borrowed pride
pride (n.) 1 splendour, magnificence, pomp

Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows.
grace (n.) 5 favour, good will

Out, varlet, from my sight!
varlet (n.) 1 knave, rogue, rascal, ruffian


                         What means your grace?


Who stocked my servant? Regan, I have good hope
stock (v.) put in the stocks

Thou didst not know on't.

Enter Gonerill

                         Who comes here? O heavens!

If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
sway (n.) 2 controlling influence, guiding power, direction

Allow obedience, if you yourselves are old,
allow (v.) 2 approve, sanction, encourage

Make it your cause! Send down and take my part!

(To Gonerill)

Art not ashamed to look upon this beard?

O Regan, will you take her by the hand?


Why not by th' hand, sir? How have I offended?

All's not offence that indiscretion finds

And dotage terms so.
dotage (n.) 2 feebleness of mind, senility


                         O sides, you are too tough!

Will you yet hold? – How came my man i'the stocks?
hold (v.) 4 bear, tolerate, endure


I set him there, sir; but his own disorders

Deserved much less advancement.
advancement (n.) preferment, elevation, progress


                         You? Did you?


I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.

If till the expiration of your month

You will return and sojourn with my sister,
sojourn (v.) 1 pause, reside, stay for a while

Dismissing half your train, come then to me.

I am now from home and out of that provision
provision (n.) 1 supply of necessities

Which shall be needful for your entertainment.
entertainment (n.) 3 hospitality, provision for needs


Return to her, and fifty men dismissed!

No, rather I abjure all roofs and choose
abjure (v.) swear to abandon, solemnly reject

To wage against the enmity o'th' air,
wage (v.) 4 struggle, do battle, vie

To be a comrade with the wolf and owl –

Necessity's sharp pinch! Return with her?
pinch (n.) 2 hardship, extremity, privation

Why, the hot-blooded France that dowerless took
dowerless (adj.) lacking a dowry

Our youngest born, I could as well be brought

To knee his throne and, squire-like, pension beg
knee (v.) 2 kneel before, beg, supplicate
squire-like (adv.) like an attendant, submissively

To keep base life afoot. Return with her!
afoot (adv.) 2 on the go, in existence
base (adj.) 3 poor, wretched, of low quality See Topics: Frequency count

Persuade me rather to be slave and sumpter
sumpter (n.) pack-horse, drudge

To this detested groom.

He points to Oswald
groom (n.) 2 fellow, character, creature


                         At your choice, sir.


I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad.

I will not trouble thee, my child. Farewell.

We'll no more meet, no more see one another.

But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter –

Or rather a disease that's in my flesh,

Which I must needs call mine. Thou art a boil,
byle, bile (n.) older forms of ‘boil’

A plague-sore, an embossed carbuncle,
carbuncle (n.) 2 tumour, growth, lump
embossed (adj.) 3 swollen, bulging, protuberant

In my corrupted blood. But I'll not chide thee.
blood (n.) 6 blood relationship, kinship
chide (v.), past form chid 1 scold, rebuke, reprove See Topics: Frequency count

Let shame come when it will, I do not call it.

I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot,
shoot (v.) send forth, throw, let fly

Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove.
high-judging (adj.) judging from on high

Mend when thou canst, be better at thy leisure;
mend (v.) 1 amend, improve, make better, put right

I can be patient, I can stay with Regan,

I and my hundred knights.


                         Not altogether so.

I looked not for you yet, nor am provided
look for (v.) 1 expect, hope for, anticipate
provided (adj.) prepared, ready, provided with necessities

For your fit welcome. Give ear, sir, to my sister;

For those that mingle reason with your passion
passion (n.) 5 passionate outburst, emotional passage

Must be content to think you old, and so –
content (adj.) 2 contented, patient, accepting, undisturbed

But she knows what she does.


                         Is this well spoken?


I dare avouch it, sir. What, fifty followers?
avouch (v.) 1 declare, assert, affirm

Is it not well? What should you need of more?

Yea, or so many, sith that both charge and danger
charge (n.) 7 expense, cost, outlay

Speak 'gainst so great a number? How in one house

Should many people under two commands

Hold amity? 'Tis hard, almost impossible.


Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance
attendance (n.) 1 diligent service, dutiful ministration, assiduous attention

From those that she calls servants, or from mine?


Why not, my lord? If then they chanced to slack ye,
slack (v.) 4 neglect, be remiss [to]

We could control them. If you will come to me,
control (v.) 1 curb, restrain, hold back

For now I spy a danger, I entreat you

To bring but five-and-twenty; to no more

Will I give place or notice.
notice (n.) 2 recognition, official acknowledgement
place (n.) 5 room, lodging, quarters


I gave you all –
time, in good 1 at the right moment


                         And in good time you gave it.


Made you my guardians, my depositaries;
depositary (n.) trustee, manager of affairs

But kept a reservation to be followed

With such a number. What, must I come to you

With five-and-twenty – Regan, said you so?


And speak't again, my lord. No more with me.


Those wicked creatures yet do look well-favoured
well-favoured (adj.) good-looking, attractive in appearance

When others are more wicked. Not being the worst

Stands in some rank of praise. (To Gonerill) I'll go with thee.

Thy fifty yet doth double five-and-twenty,

And thou art twice her love.


                         Hear me, my lord;

What need you five-and-twenty, ten, or five

To follow, in a house where twice so many
follow (v.) 2 act as a follower, be an attendant [on]

Have a command to tend you?
tend on / upon (v.) serve, follow, wait upon, escort


                         What need one?


O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars
reason (v.) 2 argue rationally [about], debate the pros and cons [of]

Are in the poorest thing superfluous.
base (adj.) 3 poor, wretched, of low quality See Topics: Frequency count
superfluous (adj.) 2 having too much, over-supplied, overflowing

Allow not nature more than nature needs –
nature (n.) 3 human nature
nature (n.) 6 natural order, ungoverned state, way of the world [often personified]

Man's life is cheap as beast's. Thou art a lady;

If only to go warm were gorgeous,

Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st,

Which scarcely keeps thee warm. But for true need, –

You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!

You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,

As full of grief as age, wretched in both;

If it be you that stirs these daughters' hearts

Against their father, fool me not so much

To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger,
touch (v.) 3 affect, move, stir

And let not women's weapons, water drops,

Stain my man's cheeks! No, you unnatural hags,

I will have such revenges on you both

That all the world shall – I will do such things –

What they are yet I know not; but they shall be

The terrors of the earth. You think I'll weep.

No, I'll not weep.

I have full cause of weeping;

(storm and tempest)

                         but this heart

Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws
flaw (n.) 3 fragment, tiny piece

Or ere I'll weep. O Fool, I shall go mad!

Exeunt Lear, Gloucester, Kent, the Fool, and Gentleman


Let us withdraw; 'twill be a storm.


This house is little; the old man and's people

Cannot be well bestowed.
bestow (v.) 4 accommodate, lodge, quarter


'Tis his own blame; hath put himself from rest

And must needs taste his folly.


For his particular, I'll receive him gladly,
particular (n.) 2 individual person, self

But not one follower.


                         So am I purposed.

Where is my lord of Gloucester?


Followed the old man forth. He is returned.

Enter Gloucester


The King is in high rage.


                         Whither is he going?


He calls to horse; but will I know not whither.


'Tis best to give him way. He leads himself.
way (n.) 7 opportunity, scope


My lord, entreat him by no means to stay.


Alack, the night comes on and the bleak winds

Do sorely ruffle. For many miles about
ruffle (v.) 1 rage, bluster, storm
sorely (adv.) 1 severely, intensely, very greatly

There's scarce a bush.


                         O sir, to wilful men

The injuries that they themselves procure

Must be their schoolmasters. Shut up your doors.

He is attended with a desperate train,
attend (v.) 4 accompany, follow closely, go with
desperate (adj.) 3 disregarding, careless, reckless
train (n.) 1 retinue, following, entourage

And what they may incense him to, being apt
incense (v.) incite, urge, set on

To have his ear abused, wisdom bids fear.
abuse (v.) 1 deceive, mislead, fool, cheat


Shut up your doors, my lord; 'tis a wild night.

My Regan counsels well. Come out o'the storm.


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