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King Lear
Act 1, scene 5

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King Lear dramatizes the story of an aged king of ancient Britain, whose plan to divide his kingdom among his three…

Act 1, scene 1

King Lear, intending to divide his power and kingdom among his three daughters, demands public professions of their love. His…

Act 1, scene 2

Edmund, the earl of Gloucester’s illegitimate son, plots to displace his legitimate brother, Edgar, as Gloucester’s heir by turning Gloucester…

Act 1, scene 3

Goneril, with whom Lear has gone to live, expresses her anger at Lear and his knights. She orders her steward,…

Act 1, scene 4

The earl of Kent returns in disguise, offers his services to Lear, and is accepted as one of Lear’s followers….

Act 1, scene 5

Lear, setting out for Regan’s with his Fool, sends the disguised Kent ahead with a letter to Regan.

Act 2, scene 1

Edmund tricks Edgar into fleeing from Gloucester’s castle. After more of Edmund’s lies, Gloucester condemns Edgar to death and makes…

Act 2, scene 2

Kent meets Oswald at Gloucester’s castle (where both await answers to the letters they have brought Regan) and challenges Oswald…

Act 2, scene 3

Edgar disguises himself as a madman-beggar to escape his death sentence. (Although Kent remains onstage, a new scene begins because…

Act 2, scene 4

At Gloucester’s castle, Lear is angered that his messenger has been stocked and further angered that Regan and Cornwall refuse…

Act 3, scene 1

Kent, searching for Lear, meets a Gentleman and learns that Lear and the Fool are alone in the storm. Kent…

Act 3, scene 2

Lear rages against the elements while the Fool begs him to return to his daughters for shelter; when Kent finds…

Act 3, scene 3

Gloucester tells Edmund that he has decided to go to Lear’s aid; he also tells him about an incriminating letter…

Act 3, scene 4

Lear, Kent, and the Fool reach the hovel, where they find Edgar disguised as Poor Tom, a madman-beggar. When Gloucester…

Act 3, scene 5

Edmund tells Cornwall about Gloucester’s decision to help Lear and about the incriminating letter from France; in return, Cornwall makes…

Act 3, scene 6

Lear, in his madness, imagines that Goneril and Regan are on trial before a tribunal made up of Edgar, the…

Act 3, scene 7

Cornwall dispatches men to capture Gloucester, whom he calls a traitor. Sending Edmund and Goneril to tell Albany about the…

Act 4, scene 1

Edgar, still in disguise as Poor Tom, meets the blinded Gloucester and agrees to lead him to Dover.

Act 4, scene 2

Goneril and Edmund arrive at Albany and Goneril’s castle. After Goneril has sent Edmund back to Cornwall, Albany enters and…

Act 4, scene 3

In the French camp Kent and a Gentleman discuss Cordelia’s love of Lear, which has brought her back to Britain…

Act 4, scene 4

In the French camp Cordelia orders out a search party for Lear.

Act 4, scene 5

Regan questions Oswald about Goneril and Edmund, states her intention to marry Edmund, and asks Oswald to dissuade Goneril from…

Act 4, scene 6

To cure Gloucester of despair, Edgar pretends to aid him in a suicide attempt, a fall from Dover Cliff to…

Act 4, scene 7

In the French camp, Lear is waked by the doctor treating him and is reunited with Cordelia.

Act 5, scene 1

Albany joins his forces with Regan’s (led by Edmund) to oppose the French invasion. Edgar, still in disguise, approaches Albany…

Act 5, scene 2

Cordelia’s French army is defeated.

Act 5, scene 3

Edmund sends Lear and Cordelia to prison and secretly commissions their assassination. Albany confronts Edmund and Goneril with their intended…

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Scene 5
Enter Lear, Kent in disguise, Gentleman, and Fool.

LEAR, to Kent Go you before to Gloucester with these
 letters. Acquaint my daughter no further with anything
 you know than comes from her demand out of
 the letter. If your diligence be not speedy, I shall be
5 there afore you.
KENT I will not sleep, my lord, till I have delivered
 your letter.He exits.
FOOL If a man’s brains were in ’s heels, were ’t not in
 danger of kibes?
LEAR 10Ay, boy.

67
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 5

FOOL Then, I prithee, be merry; thy wit shall not go
 slipshod.
LEAR Ha, ha, ha!
FOOL Shalt see thy other daughter will use thee kindly,
15 for, though she’s as like this as a crab’s like an
 apple, yet I can tell what I can tell.
LEAR What canst tell, boy?
FOOL She will taste as like this as a crab does to a crab.
 Thou canst tell why one’s nose stands i’ th’ middle
20 on ’s face?
LEAR No.
FOOL Why, to keep one’s eyes of either side ’s nose,
 that what a man cannot smell out he may spy into.
LEAR I did her wrong.
FOOL 25Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell?
LEAR No.
FOOL Nor I neither. But I can tell why a snail has a
 house.
LEAR Why?
FOOL 30Why, to put ’s head in, not to give it away to his
 daughters and leave his horns without a case.
LEAR I will forget my nature. So kind a father!—Be
 my horses ready?Gentleman exits.
FOOL Thy asses are gone about ’em. The reason why
35 the seven stars are no more than seven is a pretty
 reason.
LEAR Because they are not eight.
FOOL Yes, indeed. Thou wouldst make a good Fool.
LEAR To take ’t again perforce! Monster ingratitude!
FOOL 40If thou wert my Fool, nuncle, I’d have thee
 beaten for being old before thy time.
LEAR How’s that?
FOOL Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst
 been wise.
LEAR 
45 O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven!
 Keep me in temper. I would not be mad!

69
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 5

Enter Gentleman.

 How now, are the horses ready?
GENTLEMAN Ready, my lord.
LEAR Come, boy.
FOOL 
50 She that’s a maid now and laughs at my departure,
 Shall not be a maid long, unless things be cut
 shorter.
They exit.