King Lear

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Edmund
nature (n.) 6 natural order, ungoverned state, way of the world [often personified]


Thou, Nature, art my goddess; to thy law

My services are bound. Wherefore should I
bind (v.), past form bound 1 pledge, vow, be under obligation

Stand in the plague of custom and permit
custom (n.) 1 habit, usual practice, customary usage
plague (n.) calamity, affliction, scourge
stand (v.) 2 continue, remain, wait, stay put

The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
curiosity (n.) scrupulousness, fastidiousness, painstaking attention to detail
deprive (v.) 2 dispossess, disinherit

For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines

Lag of a brother? Why bastard? Wherefore base?
base (adj.) 2 low-born, lowly, plebeian, of lower rank See Topics: Frequency count
lag of lagging behind, lingering after

When my dimensions are as well-compact,
compact (adj.) 2 made up, composed
dimension (n.) 2 (plural) parts of the body, organs
well-compact (adj.) well-formed, nicely put together

My mind as generous, and my shape as true,
generous (adj.) well-bred, mannerly, noble-minded
true (adj.) 8 true to father's likeness, authentic, genuine

As honest madam's issue? Why brand they us
honest (adj.) 1 chaste, pure, virtuous
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant See Topics: Frequency count

With ‘ base ’? with ‘ baseness ’? ‘ bastardy ’? ‘ base, base ’?
baseness (n.) 1 socially inferior trait, plebeian quality

Who in the lusty stealth of nature take
lusty (adj.) 1 vigorous, strong, robust, eager
nature (n.) 6 natural order, ungoverned state, way of the world [often personified]
stealth (n.) 1 stealing away, furtive journey, clandestine act

More composition and fierce quality
composition (n.) 2 putting together, making up
fierce (adj.) 1 ardent, active, vigorous
quality (n.) 1 nature, disposition, character

Than doth within a dull, stale, tired bed

Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops
fop (n.) fool, buffoon, jackass

Got 'tween asleep and wake? Well then,
get (v.) 1 beget, conceive, breed
wake (n.) 2 state of wakefulness

Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land.

Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund

As to the legitimate. Fine word ‘ legitimate ’!

Well, my ‘ legitimate,’ if this letter speed
speed (v.) 1 meet with success, prosper, flourish See Topics: Politeness

And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
base (adj.) 2 low-born, lowly, plebeian, of lower rank See Topics: Frequency count
invention (n.) 5 plan, scheme, stratagem

Shall top the legitimate. I grow. I prosper.

Now gods stand up for bastards!

Enter Gloucester
choler (n.) anger, rage, wrath


Kent banished thus? and France in choler parted?

And the King gone tonight? prescribed his power?
power (n.) 3 authority, government
prescribe (v.) limit, restrict, confine

Confined to exhibition? All this done
exhibition (n.) 1 allowance, pension, maintenance

Upon the gad? Edmund, how now? What news?
gad, upon the suddenly, as if pricked with a gad [= goad]


So please your lordship, none.


Why so earnestly seek you to put up that
put up (v.) 2 conceal, hide away, pocket



I know no news, my lord.


What paper were you reading?


Nothing, my lord.


No? What needed then that terrible dispatch
dispatch, despatch (n.) 3 hasty removal, speedy concealment

of it into your pocket? The quality of nothing
quality (n.) 1 nature, disposition, character

hath not such need to hide itself. Let's see! Come! If it

be nothing I shall not need spectacles.


I beseech you, sir, pardon me. It is a letter from

my brother that I have not all o'er-read; and for so much
over-read (v.) read over, read through

as I have perused, I find it not fit for your o'erlooking.
overlooking (n.) 1 perusal, inspection, scrutiny


Give me the letter, sir.


I shall offend either to detain or give it. The
detain (v.) keep back, withhold, retain

contents, as in part I understand them, are to blame.
blame, to to be blamed, blameworthy


Let's see, let's see!


I hope for my brother's justification he wrote

this but as an essay or taste of my virtue.
essay (n.) trial, testing, proof
taste (n.) 1 trial, testing, proof



This policy and reverence of age

makes the world bitter to the best of our times, keeps our
best (n.) 2 best period, heyday, high point
time (n.) 3 lifetime, life

fortunes from us till our oldness cannot relish them. I begin

to find an idle and fond bondage in the oppression of aged
bondage (n.) 1 condition of being bound, constraint, oppression
fond (adj.) 1 foolish, stupid, mad
idle (adj.) 1 useless, barren, worthless

tyranny, who sways not as it hath power but as it is
sway (v.) 1 control, rule, direct, govern

suffered. Come to me that of this I may speak more. If our
suffer (v.) 2 put up with, tolerate, do nothing about

father would sleep till I waked him, you should enjoy half

his revenue for ever, and live the beloved of your brother,
revenue (n.) 1 income, yield, profit


Hum! Conspiracy! ‘ Sleep till I waked him, you should

enjoy half his revenue.’ My son Edgar, had he a hand to

write this? a heart and brain to breed it in? When came

you to this? Who brought it?


It was not brought me, my lord. There's the

cunning of it. I found it thrown in at the casement of my
casement (n.) 1 window [on hinges and able to be opened]

closet (n.) 1 private chamber, study, own room


You know the character to be your
character (n.) 3 handwriting, style of writing, lettering



If the matter were good, my lord, I durst swear
matter (n.) 1 subject-matter, content, substance

it were his; but in respect of that I would fain think it
fain (adv.) gladly, willingly See Topics: Frequency count

were not.


It is his!


It is his hand, my lord; but I hope his heart is

not in the contents.


Has he never before sounded you in this



Never, my lord. But I have heard him oft maintain
oft (adv.) often See Topics: Frequency count

it to be fit that, sons at perfect age and fathers
fit (adj.) 1 suited, fitting, appropriate
perfect (adj.) 5 adult, grown up, mature

declined, the father should be as ward to the son, and
ward (n.) 5 person under someone's protection, minor

the son manage his revenue.


O villain, villain! His very opinion in the

letter! Abhorred villain! Unnatural, detested, brutish
abhorred (adj.) horrifying, disgusting, abominable
detested (adj.) detestable, loathsome, hateful
unnatural (adj.) 1 against natural feeling, not in accord with kinship

villain! worse than brutish! Go, sirrah, seek him; I'll

apprehend him. Abominable villain! Where is he?
apprehend (v.) 1 seize, arrest, lay hold of


I do not well know, my lord. If it shall please

you to suspend your indignation against my brother till

you can derive from him better testimony of his intent,
intent (n.) intention, purpose, aim See Topics: Frequency count

you should run a certain course; where, if you violently
course (n.) 1 course of action, way of proceeding See Topics: Frequency count

proceed against him, mistaking his purpose, it would
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count

make a great gap in your own honour and shake in

pieces the heart of his obedience. I dare pawn down my
pawn down (v.) stake, pledge, risk

life for him that he hath writ this to feel my affection to
feel (v.) 3 test, discover, sound out

your honour and to no other pretence of danger.
pretence (n.) 1 plan, design, intention, purpose


Think you so?


If your honour judge it meet I will place you
meet (adj.) 1 fit, suitable, right, proper See Topics: Frequency count

where you shall hear us confer of this and by an

auricular assurance have your satisfaction, and that
auricular (adj.) audible, hearable, perceived by the ear
satisfaction (n.) 1 removal of doubt, resolved state of mind

without any further delay than this very evening.


He cannot be such a monster –


Nor is not, sure.


To his father that so tenderly and entirely

loves him. Heaven and earth! Edmund, seek him out.

Wind me into him, I pray you. Frame the business after
frame (v.) 3 arrange, organize, plan
wind (v.) 3 insinuate, pursue a devious course

your own wisdom. I would unstate myself to be in a due
unstate (v.) 2 deprive of rank and estate, give up everything

resolution (n.) 2 certainty, definiteness, positive knowledge


I will seek him, sir, presently, convey the business
convey (v.) 2 manage, conduct, carry on [in secrecy]
presently (adv.) 1 immediately, instantly, at once See Topics: Frequency count

as I shall find means, and acquaint you withal.


These late eclipses in the sun and moon
late (adj.) 1 recent, not long past

portend no good to us. Though the wisdom of nature
nature (n.) 6 natural order, ungoverned state, way of the world [often personified]

can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself
reason (v.) 2 argue rationally [about], debate the pros and cons [of]

scourged by the sequent effects: love cools, friendship
sequent (adj.) 1 following, ensuing, consequent

falls off, brothers divide. In cities, mutinies; in countries,
mutiny (n.) 1 riot, civil disturbance, state of discord

discord; in palaces, treason; and the bond cracked 'twixt

son and father. This villain of mine comes under the

prediction: there's son against father; the King falls

from bias of nature: there's father against child. We
bias (n.) 1 [weighting in a bowl causing it to run obliquely] inclination, tendency, leaning

have seen the best of our time. Machinations, hollowness,
hollowness (n.) insincerity, hypocrisy, lip-service
machination (n.) plotting, intrigue, scheming

treachery, and all ruinous disorders follow us disquietly
disquietly (adv.) uneasily, in a disturbing manner

to our graves – find out this villain, Edmund;

it shall lose thee nothing; do it carefully – and the noble
lose (v.) 5 harm, damage

and true-hearted Kent banished! His offence, honesty!

'Tis strange.



This is the excellent foppery of the world, that
excellent (adj.) 2 [in a bad or neutral sense] exceptionally great, supreme, extreme
foppery (n.) 1 folly, foolishness, stupidity

when we are sick in fortune – often the surfeits of our
surfeit (n.) 2 sickness brought on by excess

own behaviour – we make guilty of our disasters the sun,
guilty (adj.) 2 responsible [for], answerable [for]

the moon, and stars, as if we were villains on necessity,

fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves, and
knave (n.) 1 scoundrel, rascal, rogue See Topics: Frequency count

treachers by spherical predominance, drunkards, liars,
predominance (n.) ascendancy, predominant influence, authority
spherical (adj.) of the spheres [stars], planetary
treacher (n.) traitor, deceiver, cheat

and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary

influence; and all that we are evil in by a divine

thrusting-on. An admirable evasion of whoremaster
admirable (adj.) wondrous, marvellous, extraordinary
thrusting on (n.) imposition, forcing, insinuation
whoremaster (adj.) lecherous, fornicating, licentious

man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a
charge (n.) 5 responsibility, culpability
disposition (n.) 1 composure, state of mind, temperament

star. My father compounded with my mother under the
compound (v.) 4 mix, mingle, combine

Dragon's tail, and my nativity was under Ursa Major, so
dragon's tail [astrology] intersection of the orbit of the descending moon and that of the sun [associated with lechery] See Topics: Cosmos

that it follows I am rough and lecherous. Fut! I should

have been that I am had the maidenliest star in the

firmament twinkled on my bastardizing. Edgar –
bastardizing (n.) being conceived as a bastard

(Enter Edgar)
catastrophe (n.) 2 denouement, final event in a drama
pat (adv.) 1 neatly, opportunely, aptly

pat he comes, like the catastrophe of the old comedy.

My cue is villainous melancholy, with a sigh like Tom
Tom o'Bedlam (n.) madman, deranged person

o' Bedlam. (Aloud) O these eclipses do portend these

divisions: (he sings) Fa, sol, la, mi.
division (n.) 1 dissension, discord, disunity


How now, brother Edmund! What serious

contemplation are you in?


I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read

this other day, what should follow these eclipses.


Do you busy yourself with that?


I promise you, the effects he writes of succeed
effect (n.) 1 result, end, outcome, fulfilment
succeed (v.) 1 follow on, ensue, come after

unhappily, as of unnaturalness between the child and the
unhappily (adv.) 2 evilly, disastrously, wretchedly
unnaturalness (n.) conduct against natural feeling, behaviour not in accord with kinship

parent, death, dearth, dissolutions of ancient amities,
dearth (n.) 1 scarcity, shortage, lack [of food], famine
dissolution (n.) 2 total destruction, disintegration

divisions in state, menaces and maledictions against king
division (n.) 1 dissension, discord, disunity
malediction (n.) cursing, invective, denunciation
state (n.) 10 government, ruling body, administration

and nobles, needless diffidences, banishment of friends,
diffidence (n.) distrust, misgiving, lack of confidence

dissipation of cohorts, nuptial breaches, and I know not
cohort (n.) company of soldiers, military division
dissipation (n.) dispersal, break-up, dissolving



How long have you been a sectary astronomical?
astronomical (adj.) astrological, interpreting the heavens
sectary (n.) 1 devotee, disciple, adherent


When saw you my father last?


The night gone by.


Spake you with him?


Ay, two hours together.


Parted you in good terms? Found you no

displeasure in him by word nor countenance?
countenance (n.) 1 demeanour, bearing, manner


None at all.


Bethink yourself wherein you may have
bethink (v.), past form bethought 1 call to mind, think about, consider, reflect See Topics: Frequency count

offended him, and at my entreaty forbear his presence
forbear (v.) 2 leave alone, avoid, stay away [from] See Topics: Frequency count

until some little time hath qualified the heat of his
qualify (v.) 1 moderate, weaken, diminish

displeasure, which at this instant so rageth in him that with

the mischief of your person it would scarcely allay.
allay (v.) 1 subside, abate, diminish, quell
mischief (n.) 3 harm, injury, damage


Some villain hath done me wrong.


That's my fear. I pray you, have a continent
continent (adj.) 3 self-restraining. self-controlled, discreet

forbearance till the speed of his rage goes slower; and,
forbearance (n.) 2 absence, abstention, staying away

as I say, retire with me to my lodging, from whence I

will fitly bring you to hear my lord speak. Pray ye, go!
fitly (adv.) 2 at the right time, at a suitable moment

There's my key. If you do stir abroad, go armed.
abroad (adv.) 3 away from home, out of the house
stir (v.) 4 move about, go, travel


Armed, brother?


Brother, I advise you to the best. I am no honest

man if there be any good meaning toward you. I have
meaning (n.) design, intention, purpose

told you what I have seen and heard but faintly, nothing
faintly (adv.) 1 hardly, scarcely, very slightly

like the image and horror of it. Pray you, away!
image (n.) 1 embodiment, instance, form


Shall I hear from you anon?
anon (adv.) 1 soon, shortly, presently See Topics: Frequency count


I do serve you in this business.

Exit Edgar

A credulous father and a brother noble,

Whose nature is so far from doing harms

That he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty
honesty (n.) 2 honour, integrity, uprightness

My practices ride easy – I see the business:
business (n.) 1 deed, action, affair, task
practice (n.) 1 scheme, plot, stratagem, intrigue

Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit;
wit (n.) 4 cunning plan, ingenious design

All with me's meet that I can fashion fit.
fashion (v.) 1 form, shape, make [into]
fit (adj.) 1 suited, fitting, appropriate
meet (adj.) 1 fit, suitable, right, proper See Topics: Frequency count


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