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King Lear
Act 4, scene 2

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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 2
Enter Goneril and Edmund, the Bastard.

GONERIL 
 Welcome, my lord. I marvel our mild husband
 Not met us on the way.

Enter Oswald, the Steward.

 Now, where’s your master?
OSWALD 
 Madam, within, but never man so changed.
5 I told him of the army that was landed;
 He smiled at it. I told him you were coming;
 His answer was “The worse.” Of Gloucester’s
 treachery
 And of the loyal service of his son
10 When I informed him, then he called me “sot”
 And told me I had turned the wrong side out.
 What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him;
 What like, offensive.
GONERIL, to Edmund  Then shall you go no further.

179
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 2

15 It is the cowish terror of his spirit,
 That dares not undertake. He’ll not feel wrongs
 Which tie him to an answer. Our wishes on the way
 May prove effects. Back, Edmund, to my brother.
 Hasten his musters and conduct his powers.
20 I must change names at home and give the distaff
 Into my husband’s hands. This trusty servant
 Shall pass between us. Ere long you are like to
 hear—
 If you dare venture in your own behalf—
25 A mistress’s command. Wear this; spare speech.
She gives him a favor.
 Decline your head. She kisses him. This kiss, if it
 durst speak,
 Would stretch thy spirits up into the air.
 Conceive, and fare thee well.
EDMUND 
30 Yours in the ranks of death.He exits.
GONERIL  My most dear
 Gloucester!
 [O, the difference of man and man!]
 To thee a woman’s services are due;
35 My fool usurps my body.
OSWALD Madam, here comes my lord.He exits.

Enter Albany.

GONERIL 
 I have been worth the whistle.
ALBANY  O Goneril,
 You are not worth the dust which the rude wind
40 Blows in your face. I fear your disposition.
 That nature which contemns its origin
 Cannot be bordered certain in itself.
 She that herself will sliver and disbranch
 From her material sap perforce must wither
45 And come to deadly use.
GONERIL No more. The text is foolish.

181
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 2

ALBANY 
 Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile.
 Filths savor but themselves. What have you done?
 Tigers, not daughters, what have you performed?
50 A father, and a gracious agèd man,
 Whose reverence even the head-lugged bear would
 lick,
 Most barbarous, most degenerate, have you
 madded.
55 Could my good brother suffer you to do it?
 A man, a prince, by him so benefited!
 If that the heavens do not their visible spirits
 Send quickly down to tame these vile offenses,
 It will come:
60 Humanity must perforce prey on itself,
 Like monsters of the deep.
GONERIL  Milk-livered man,
 That bear’st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs;
 Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning
65 Thine honor from thy suffering; that not know’st
 Fools do those villains pity who are punished
 Ere they have done their mischief. Where’s thy
 drum?
 France spreads his banners in our noiseless land,
70 With plumèd helm thy state begins to threat,
 Whilst thou, a moral fool, sits still and cries
 “Alack, why does he so?”
ALBANY  See thyself, devil!
 Proper deformity shows not in the fiend
75 So horrid as in woman.
GONERIL  O vain fool!
ALBANY 
 Thou changèd and self-covered thing, for shame
 Bemonster not thy feature. Were ’t my fitness
 To let these hands obey my blood,
80 They are apt enough to dislocate and tear

183
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 2

 Thy flesh and bones. Howe’er thou art a fiend,
 A woman’s shape doth shield thee.
GONERIL  Marry, your manhood, mew—

Enter a Messenger.

ALBANY What news?
MESSENGER 
85 O, my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall’s dead,
 Slain by his servant, going to put out
 The other eye of Gloucester.
ALBANY  Gloucester’s eyes?
MESSENGER 
 A servant that he bred, thrilled with remorse,
90 Opposed against the act, bending his sword
 To his great master, who, thereat enraged,
 Flew on him and amongst them felled him dead,
 But not without that harmful stroke which since
 Hath plucked him after.
ALBANY 95 This shows you are above,
 You justicers, that these our nether crimes
 So speedily can venge. But, O poor Gloucester,
 Lost he his other eye?
MESSENGER  Both, both, my lord.—
100 This letter, madam, craves a speedy answer.
Giving her a paper.
 ’Tis from your sister.
GONERIL, aside  One way I like this well.
 But being widow and my Gloucester with her
 May all the building in my fancy pluck
105 Upon my hateful life. Another way
 The news is not so tart.—I’ll read, and answer.
She exits.
ALBANY 
 Where was his son when they did take his eyes?
MESSENGER 
 Come with my lady hither.

185
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 3

ALBANY  He is not here.
MESSENGER 
110 No, my good lord. I met him back again.
ALBANY Knows he the wickedness?
MESSENGER 
 Ay, my good lord. ’Twas he informed against him
 And quit the house on purpose, that their punishment
 Might have the freer course.
ALBANY 115 Gloucester, I live
 To thank thee for the love thou show’d’st the King,
 And to revenge thine eyes.—Come hither, friend.
 Tell me what more thou know’st.
They exit.