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King Lear
Act 4, scene 3

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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 3
Enter Kent in disguise and a Gentleman.

KENT Why the King of France is so suddenly gone
 back know you no reason?
GENTLEMAN Something he left imperfect in the state,
 which since his coming forth is thought of, which
5 imports to the kingdom so much fear and danger
 that his personal return was most required and
 necessary.
KENT Who hath he left behind him general?
GENTLEMAN The Marshal of France, Monsieur La Far.
KENT 10Did your letters pierce the Queen to any demonstration
 of grief?
GENTLEMAN 
 Ay, sir, she took them, read them in my
 presence,
 And now and then an ample tear trilled down
15 Her delicate cheek. It seemed she was a queen
 Over her passion, who, most rebel-like,
 Fought to be king o’er her.
KENT  O, then it moved her.

187
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 3

GENTLEMAN 
 Not to a rage. Patience and sorrow strove
20 Who should express her goodliest. You have seen
 Sunshine and rain at once; her smiles and tears
 Were like a better way. Those happy smilets
 That played on her ripe lip seemed not to know
 What guests were in her eyes, which parted thence
25 As pearls from diamonds dropped. In brief,
 Sorrow would be a rarity most beloved
 If all could so become it.
KENT Made she no verbal question?
GENTLEMAN 
 Faith, once or twice she heaved the name of
30 “father”
 Pantingly forth, as if it pressed her heart;
 Cried “Sisters, sisters, shame of ladies, sisters!
 Kent, father, sisters! What, i’ th’ storm, i’ th’ night?
 Let pity not be believed!” There she shook
35 The holy water from her heavenly eyes,
 And clamor moistened. Then away she started,
 To deal with grief alone.
KENT  It is the stars.
 The stars above us govern our conditions,
40 Else one self mate and make could not beget
 Such different issues. You spoke not with her
 since?
GENTLEMAN No.
KENT 
 Was this before the King returned?
GENTLEMAN 45 No, since.
KENT 
 Well, sir, the poor distressèd Lear’s i’ th’ town,
 Who sometime in his better tune remembers
 What we are come about, and by no means
 Will yield to see his daughter.
GENTLEMAN 50 Why, good sir?

189
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 4

KENT 
 A sovereign shame so elbows him—his own
 unkindness,
 That stripped her from his benediction, turned her
 To foreign casualties, gave her dear rights
55 To his dog-hearted daughters—these things sting
 His mind so venomously that burning shame
 Detains him from Cordelia.
GENTLEMAN Alack, poor gentleman!
KENT 
 Of Albany’s and Cornwall’s powers you heard not?
GENTLEMAN 60’Tis so. They are afoot.
KENT 
 Well, sir, I’ll bring you to our master Lear
 And leave you to attend him. Some dear cause
 Will in concealment wrap me up awhile.
 When I am known aright, you shall not grieve
65 Lending me this acquaintance. I pray you, go
 Along with me.
They exit.