List iconKing LearList icon

King Lear
Act 2, scene 2

Synopsis:

Contents

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…

Include links to:

Images
Glosses
Audio
Video
Essays
Quill icon
Scene 2
Enter Kent in disguise and Oswald, the Steward,
severally.


OSWALD Good dawning to thee, friend. Art of this
 house?
KENT Ay.
OSWALD Where may we set our horses?
KENT 5I’ th’ mire.
OSWALD Prithee, if thou lov’st me, tell me.
KENT I love thee not.
OSWALD Why then, I care not for thee.
KENT If I had thee in Lipsbury pinfold, I would make
10 thee care for me.
OSWALD Why dost thou use me thus? I know thee not.
KENT Fellow, I know thee.
OSWALD What dost thou know me for?
KENT A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats; a
15 base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound,
 filthy worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered,
 action-taking, whoreson, glass-gazing, superserviceable,
 finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting

85
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 2

 slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of good
20 service, and art nothing but the composition of a
 knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir
 of a mongrel bitch; one whom I will beat into
 clamorous whining if thou deny’st the least syllable
 of thy addition.
OSWALD 25Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou thus
 to rail on one that is neither known of thee nor
 knows thee!
KENT What a brazen-faced varlet art thou to deny thou
 knowest me! Is it two days ago since I tripped up
30 thy heels and beat thee before the King? He draws
 his sword. 
Draw, you rogue, for though it be night,
 yet the moon shines. I’ll make a sop o’ th’ moonshine
 of you, you whoreson, cullionly barbermonger.
 Draw!
OSWALD 35Away! I have nothing to do with thee.
KENT 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
40 your ways.
OSWALD Help, ho! Murder! Help!
KENT Strike, you slave! Stand, rogue! Stand, you neat
 slave! Strike!He beats Oswald.
OSWALD Help, ho! Murder, murder!

Enter Bastard Edmund, with his rapier drawn,
Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, Servants.


EDMUND 45How now, what’s the matter? Part!
KENT With you, goodman boy, if you please. Come, I’ll
 flesh you. Come on, young master.
GLOUCESTER 
 Weapons? Arms? What’s the matter here?
CORNWALL Keep peace, upon your lives! He dies that
50 strikes again. What is the matter?

87
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 2

REGAN 
 The messengers from our sister and the King.
CORNWALL What is your difference? Speak.
OSWALD I am scarce in breath, my lord.
KENT No marvel, you have so bestirred your valor.
55 You cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee; a
 tailor made thee.
CORNWALL Thou art a strange fellow. A tailor make a
 man?
KENT A tailor, sir. A stonecutter or a painter could not
60 have made him so ill, though they had been but two
 years o’ th’ trade.
CORNWALL Speak yet, how grew your quarrel?
OSWALD This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have
 spared at suit of his gray beard—
KENT 65Thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter!
 —My lord, if you will give me leave, I will tread
 this unbolted villain into mortar and daub the wall
 of a jakes with him.—Spare my gray beard, you
 wagtail?
CORNWALL 70Peace, sirrah!
 You beastly knave, know you no reverence?
KENT 
 Yes, sir, but anger hath a privilege.
CORNWALL Why art thou angry?
KENT 
 That such a slave as this should wear a sword,
75 Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as
 these,
 Like rats, oft bite the holy cords atwain
 Which are too intrinse t’ unloose; smooth every
 passion
80 That in the natures of their lords rebel—
 Being oil to fire, snow to the colder moods—
 Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks
 With every gale and vary of their masters,

89
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 2

 Knowing naught, like dogs, but following.—
85 A plague upon your epileptic visage!
 Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?
 Goose, if I had you upon Sarum plain,
 I’d drive you cackling home to Camelot.
CORNWALL What, art thou mad, old fellow?
GLOUCESTER 90How fell you out? Say that.
KENT 
 No contraries hold more antipathy
 Than I and such a knave.
CORNWALL 
 Why dost thou call him “knave”? What is his fault?
KENT His countenance likes me not.
CORNWALL 
95 No more, perchance, does mine, nor his, nor hers.
KENT 
 Sir, ’tis my occupation to be plain:
 I have seen better faces in my time
 Than stands on any shoulder that I see
 Before me at this instant.
CORNWALL 100 This is some fellow
 Who, having been praised for bluntness, doth affect
 A saucy roughness and constrains the garb
 Quite from his nature. He cannot flatter, he.
 An honest mind and plain, he must speak truth!
105 An they will take it, so; if not, he’s plain.
 These kind of knaves I know, which in this
 plainness
 Harbor more craft and more corrupter ends
 Than twenty silly-ducking observants
110 That stretch their duties nicely.
KENT 
 Sir, in good faith, in sincere verity,
 Under th’ allowance of your great aspect,
 Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire
 On flick’ring Phoebus’ front—

91
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 2

CORNWALL 115 What mean’st by this?
KENT To go out of my dialect, which you discommend
 so much. I know, sir, I am no flatterer. He that
 beguiled you in a plain accent was a plain knave,
 which for my part I will not be, though I should
120 win your displeasure to entreat me to ’t.
CORNWALL, to Oswald What was th’ offense you gave
 him?
OSWALD I never gave him any.
 It pleased the King his master very late
125 To strike at me, upon his misconstruction;
 When he, compact, and flattering his displeasure,
 Tripped me behind; being down, insulted, railed,
 And put upon him such a deal of man
 That worthied him, got praises of the King
130 For him attempting who was self-subdued;
 And in the fleshment of this dread exploit,
 Drew on me here again.
KENT None of these rogues and cowards
 But Ajax is their fool.
CORNWALL 135 Fetch forth the stocks.—
 You stubborn ancient knave, you reverent braggart,
 We’ll teach you.
KENT  Sir, I am too old to learn.
 Call not your stocks for me. I serve the King,
140 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.
CORNWALL 
145 Fetch forth the stocks.—As I have life and honor,
 There shall he sit till noon.
REGAN 
 Till noon? Till night, my lord, and all night, too.

93
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 2

KENT 
 Why, madam, if I were your father’s dog,
 You should not use me so.
REGAN 150Sir, being his knave, I will.
CORNWALL 
 This is a fellow of the selfsame color
 Our sister speaks of.—Come, bring away the stocks.
Stocks brought out.
GLOUCESTER 
 Let me beseech your Grace not to do so.
 His fault is much, and the good king his master
155 Will check him for ’t. Your purposed low correction
 Is such as basest and contemned’st wretches
 For pilf’rings and most common trespasses
 Are punished with. The King must take it ill
 That he, so slightly valued in his messenger,
160 Should have him thus restrained.
CORNWALL  I’ll answer that.
REGAN 
 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.
CORNWALL 165Come, my good lord, away.
All but Gloucester and Kent exit.
GLOUCESTER 
 I am sorry for thee, friend. ’Tis the Duke’s
 pleasure,
 Whose disposition all the world well knows
 Will not be rubbed nor stopped. I’ll entreat for thee.
KENT 
170 Pray, do not, sir. I have watched and traveled hard.
 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.

95
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 3

GLOUCESTER 
 The Duke’s to blame in this. ’Twill be ill taken.
He exits.
KENT 
175 Good king, that must approve the common saw,
 Thou out of heaven’s benediction com’st
 To the warm sun.He takes out a paper.
 Approach, thou beacon to this under globe,
 That by thy comfortable beams I may
180 Peruse this letter. Nothing almost sees miracles
 But misery. I know ’tis from Cordelia,
 Who hath most fortunately been informed
 Of my obscurèd course, and shall find time
 From this enormous state, seeking to give
185 Losses their remedies. All weary and o’erwatched,
 Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold
 This shameful lodging.
 Fortune, good night. Smile once more; turn thy
 wheel.
Sleeps.