List iconKing Lear:
Act 2, scene 1
List icon

King Lear
Act 2, scene 1



Characters in the Play

Entire Play

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 1
Enter Edmund, the Bastard and Curan, severally.

EDMUND Save thee, Curan.
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.
EDMUND 5How comes that?
CURAN Nay, I know not. You have heard of the news
 abroad?—I mean the whispered ones, for they are
 yet but ear-kissing arguments.
EDMUND Not I. Pray you, what are they?
CURAN 10Have you heard of no likely wars toward ’twixt
 the dukes of Cornwall and Albany?
EDMUND Not a word.
CURAN You may do, then, in time. Fare you well, sir.
He exits.
 The Duke be here tonight? The better, best.
15 This weaves itself perforce into my business.
 My father hath set guard to take my brother,
 And I have one thing of a queasy question
 Which I must act. Briefness and fortune work!—
 Brother, a word. Descend. Brother, I say!

Enter Edgar.

20 My father watches. O sir, fly this place!

King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 1

 Intelligence is given where you are hid.
 You have now the good advantage of the night.
 Have you not spoken ’gainst the Duke of Cornwall?
 He’s coming hither, now, i’ th’ night, i’ th’ haste,
25 And Regan with him. Have you nothing said
 Upon his party ’gainst the Duke of Albany?
 Advise yourself.
EDGAR  I am sure on ’t, not a word.
 I hear my father coming. Pardon me.
30 In cunning I must draw my sword upon you.
 Draw. Seem to defend yourself. Now, quit you
 well.They draw.
 Yield! Come before my father! Light, hoa, here!
 Aside to Edgar. Fly, brother.—Torches, torches!
35 —So, farewell.Edgar exits.
 Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion
 Of my more fierce endeavor. I have seen drunkards
 Do more than this in sport.He wounds his arm.
 Father, father!
40 Stop, stop! No help?

Enter Gloucester, and Servants with torches.

GLOUCESTER  Now, Edmund, where’s the
 Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out,
 Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon
45 To stand auspicious mistress.
GLOUCESTER  But where is he?
 Look, sir, I bleed.
GLOUCESTER  Where is the villain,
50 Fled this way, sir, when by no means he could—

King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 1

 Pursue him, ho! Go after. Servants exit. By no
 means what?
 Persuade me to the murder of your Lordship,
 But that I told him the revenging gods
55 ’Gainst parricides did all the thunder bend,
 Spoke with how manifold and strong a bond
 The child was bound to th’ father—sir, in fine,
 Seeing how loathly opposite I stood
 To his unnatural purpose, in fell motion
60 With his preparèd sword he charges home
 My unprovided body, lanced mine arm;
 And when he saw my best alarumed spirits,
 Bold in the quarrel’s right, roused to th’ encounter,
 Or whether ghasted by the noise I made,
65 Full suddenly he fled.
GLOUCESTER  Let him fly far!
 Not in this land shall he remain uncaught,
 And found—dispatch. The noble duke my master,
 My worthy arch and patron, comes tonight.
70 By his authority I will proclaim it
 That he which finds him shall deserve our thanks,
 Bringing the murderous coward to the stake;
 He that conceals him, death.
 When I dissuaded him from his intent
75 And found him pight to do it, with curst speech
 I threatened to discover him. He replied
 “Thou unpossessing bastard, dost thou think
 If I would stand against thee, would the reposal
 Of any trust, virtue, or worth in thee
80 Make thy words faithed? No. What I should
 As this I would, though thou didst produce

King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 1

 My very character—I’d turn it all
 To thy suggestion, plot, and damnèd practice.
85 And thou must make a dullard of the world
 If they not thought the profits of my death
 Were very pregnant and potential spurs
 To make thee seek it.”
GLOUCESTER  O strange and fastened villain!
90 Would he deny his letter, said he?
 I never got him.Tucket within.
 Hark, the Duke’s trumpets. I know not why he
 All ports I’ll bar. The villain shall not ’scape.
95 The Duke must grant me that. Besides, his picture
 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
 To make thee capable.

Enter Cornwall, Regan, and Attendants.

100 How now, my noble friend? Since I came hither,
 Which I can call but now, I have heard strange
 If it be true, all vengeance comes too short
 Which can pursue th’ offender. How dost, my
105 lord?
 O madam, my old heart is cracked; it’s cracked.
 What, did my father’s godson seek your life?
 He whom my father named, your Edgar?
 O lady, lady, shame would have it hid!
110 Was he not companion with the riotous knights
 That tended upon my father?

King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 1

 I know not, madam. ’Tis too bad, too bad.
 Yes, madam, he was of that consort.
 No marvel, then, though he were ill affected.
115 ’Tis they have put him on the old man’s death,
 To have th’ expense and waste of his revenues.
 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
120 I’ll not be there.
CORNWALL  Nor I, assure thee, Regan.—
 Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father
 A childlike office.
EDMUND  It was my duty, sir.
125 He did bewray his practice, and received
 This hurt you see striving to apprehend him.
CORNWALL Is he pursued?
GLOUCESTER Ay, my good lord.
 If he be taken, he shall never more
130 Be feared of doing harm. Make your own purpose,
 How in my strength you please.—For you, Edmund,
 Whose virtue and obedience doth this instant
 So much commend itself, you shall be ours.
 Natures of such deep trust we shall much need.
135 You we first seize on.
EDMUND  I shall serve you, sir,
 Truly, however else.
GLOUCESTER For him I thank your Grace.
 You know not why we came to visit you—
140 Thus out of season, threading dark-eyed night.

King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 2

 Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some poise,
 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
145 To answer from our home. The several messengers
 From hence attend dispatch. Our good old friend,
 Lay comforts to your bosom and bestow
 Your needful counsel to our businesses,
 Which craves the instant use.
GLOUCESTER 150 I serve you, madam.
 Your Graces are right welcome.
Flourish. They exit.