List iconKing Lear:
Act 4, scene 6
List icon

King Lear
Act 4, scene 6



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 6
Enter Gloucester and Edgar dressed as a peasant.

 When shall I come to th’ top of that same hill?
 You do climb up it now. Look how we labor.
 Methinks the ground is even.
EDGAR  Horrible steep.
5 Hark, do you hear the sea?
GLOUCESTER  No, truly.
 Why then, your other senses grow imperfect
 By your eyes’ anguish.
GLOUCESTER  So may it be indeed.
10 Methinks thy voice is altered and thou speak’st
 In better phrase and matter than thou didst.

King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 6

 You’re much deceived; in nothing am I changed
 But in my garments.
GLOUCESTER  Methinks you’re better spoken.
15 Come on, sir. Here’s the place. Stand still. How
 And dizzy ’tis to cast one’s eyes so low!
 The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
 Show scarce so gross as beetles. Halfway down
20 Hangs one that gathers samphire—dreadful trade;
 Methinks he seems no bigger than his head.
 The fishermen that walk upon the beach
 Appear like mice, and yond tall anchoring bark
 Diminished to her cock, her cock a buoy
25 Almost too small for sight. The murmuring surge
 That on th’ unnumbered idle pebble chafes
 Cannot be heard so high. I’ll look no more
 Lest my brain turn and the deficient sight
 Topple down headlong.
GLOUCESTER 30 Set me where you stand.
 Give me your hand. You are now within a foot
 Of th’ extreme verge. For all beneath the moon
 Would I not leap upright.
GLOUCESTER  Let go my hand.
35 Here, friend, ’s another purse; in it a jewel
 Well worth a poor man’s taking. Fairies and gods
 Prosper it with thee.He gives Edgar a purse.
 Go thou further off.
 Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.
EDGAR, walking away 
40 Now fare you well, good sir.
GLOUCESTER  With all my heart.
EDGAR, aside 
 Why I do trifle thus with his despair
 Is done to cure it.

King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 6

GLOUCESTER  O you mighty gods!He kneels.
45 This world I do renounce, and in your sights
 Shake patiently my great affliction off.
 If I could bear it longer, and not fall
 To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,
 My snuff and loathèd part of nature should
50 Burn itself out. If Edgar live, O, bless him!—
 Now, fellow, fare thee well.He falls.
EDGAR  Gone, sir. Farewell.—
 And yet I know not how conceit may rob
 The treasury of life, when life itself
55 Yields to the theft. Had he been where he thought,
 By this had thought been past. Alive or dead?—
 Ho you, sir! Friend, hear you. Sir, speak.—
 Thus might he pass indeed. Yet he revives.—
 What are you, sir?
GLOUCESTER 60 Away, and let me die.
 Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air,
 So many fathom down precipitating,
 Thou ’dst shivered like an egg; but thou dost
65 Hast heavy substance, bleed’st not, speak’st, art
 Ten masts at each make not the altitude
 Which thou hast perpendicularly fell.
 Thy life’s a miracle. Speak yet again.
GLOUCESTER 70But have I fall’n or no?
 From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.
 Look up a-height. The shrill-gorged lark so far
 Cannot be seen or heard. Do but look up.
GLOUCESTER Alack, I have no eyes.
75 Is wretchedness deprived that benefit
 To end itself by death? ’Twas yet some comfort
 When misery could beguile the tyrant’s rage
 And frustrate his proud will.

King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 6

EDGAR  Give me your arm.
He raises Gloucester.
80 Up. So, how is ’t? Feel you your legs? You stand.
 Too well, too well.
EDGAR  This is above all strangeness.
 Upon the crown o’ th’ cliff, what thing was that
 Which parted from you?
GLOUCESTER 85 A poor unfortunate beggar.
 As I stood here below, methought his eyes
 Were two full moons; he had a thousand noses,
 Horns whelked and waved like the enragèd sea.
 It was some fiend. Therefore, thou happy father,
90 Think that the clearest gods, who make them
 Of men’s impossibilities, have preserved thee.
 I do remember now. Henceforth I’ll bear
 Affliction till it do cry out itself
95 “Enough, enough!” and die. That thing you speak of,
 I took it for a man. Often ’twould say
 “The fiend, the fiend!” He led me to that place.
 Bear free and patient thoughts.

Enter Lear.

 But who comes here?
100 The safer sense will ne’er accommodate
 His master thus.
LEAR No, they cannot touch me for coining. I am the
 King himself.
EDGAR O, thou side-piercing sight!
LEAR 105Nature’s above art in that respect. There’s your
 press-money. That fellow handles his bow like a
 crowkeeper. Draw me a clothier’s yard. Look, look,

King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 6

 a mouse! Peace, peace! This piece of toasted cheese
 will do ’t. There’s my gauntlet; I’ll prove it on a
110 giant. Bring up the brown bills. O, well flown, bird!
 I’ th’ clout, i’ th’ clout! Hewgh! Give the word.
EDGAR Sweet marjoram.
LEAR Pass.
GLOUCESTER I know that voice.
LEAR 115Ha! Goneril with a white beard? They flattered
 me like a dog and told me I had the white hairs in
 my beard ere the black ones were there. To say “ay”
 and “no” to everything that I said “ay” and “no” to
 was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me
120 once and the wind to make me chatter, when the
 thunder would not peace at my bidding, there I
 found ’em, there I smelt ’em out. Go to. They are
 not men o’ their words; they told me I was everything.
 ’Tis a lie. I am not ague-proof.
125 The trick of that voice I do well remember.
 Is ’t not the King?
LEAR  Ay, every inch a king.
 When I do stare, see how the subject quakes.
 I pardon that man’s life. What was thy cause?
130 Adultery? Thou shalt not die. Die for adultery? No.
 The wren goes to ’t, and the small gilded fly does
 lecher in my sight. Let copulation thrive, for
 Gloucester’s bastard son was kinder to his father
 than my daughters got ’tween the lawful sheets. To
135 ’t, luxury, pell-mell, for I lack soldiers. Behold yond
 simp’ring dame, whose face between her forks
 presages snow, that minces virtue and does shake
 the head to hear of pleasure’s name. The fitchew
 nor the soiled horse goes to ’t with a more riotous
140 appetite. Down from the waist they are centaurs,
 though women all above. But to the girdle do the
 gods inherit; beneath is all the fiend’s. There’s hell,

King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 6

 there’s darkness, there is the sulphurous pit; burning,
 scalding, stench, consumption! Fie, fie, fie, pah,
145 pah! Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary;
 sweeten my imagination. There’s money for thee.
GLOUCESTER O, let me kiss that hand!
LEAR Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.
 O ruined piece of nature! This great world
150 Shall so wear out to naught. Dost thou know me?
LEAR I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou
 squinny at me? No, do thy worst, blind Cupid, I’ll
 not love. Read thou this challenge. Mark but the
 penning of it.
155 Were all thy letters suns, I could not see.
EDGAR, aside 
 I would not take this from report. It is,
 And my heart breaks at it.
LEAR Read.
GLOUCESTER What, with the case of eyes?
LEAR 160O ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your
 head, nor no money in your purse? Your eyes are in
 a heavy case, your purse in a light, yet you see how
 this world goes.
GLOUCESTER I see it feelingly.
LEAR 165What, art mad? A man may see how this world
 goes with no eyes. Look with thine ears. See how
 yond justice rails upon yond simple thief. Hark in
 thine ear. Change places and, handy-dandy, which
 is the justice, which is the thief? Thou hast seen a
170 farmer’s dog bark at a beggar?
LEAR And the creature run from the cur? There thou
 might’st behold the great image of authority: a
 dog’s obeyed in office.

King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 6

175 Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand!
 Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thy own back.
 Thou hotly lusts to use her in that kind
 For which thou whipp’st her. The usurer hangs the
180 Through tattered clothes small vices do appear.
 Robes and furred gowns hide all. [Plate sin with
 And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks.
 Arm it in rags, a pygmy’s straw does pierce it.
185 None does offend, none, I say, none; I’ll able ’em.
 Take that of me, my friend, who have the power
 To seal th’ accuser’s lips.] Get thee glass eyes,
 And like a scurvy politician
 Seem to see the things thou dost not. Now, now,
190 now, now.
 Pull off my boots. Harder, harder. So.
EDGAR, aside 
 O, matter and impertinency mixed,
 Reason in madness!
 If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes.
195 I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloucester.
 Thou must be patient. We came crying hither;
 Thou know’st the first time that we smell the air
 We wawl and cry. I will preach to thee. Mark.
GLOUCESTER Alack, alack the day!
200 When we are born, we cry that we are come
 To this great stage of fools.—This’ a good block.
 It were a delicate stratagem to shoe
 A troop of horse with felt. I’ll put ’t in proof,
 And when I have stol’n upon these son-in-laws,
205 Then kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!

Enter a Gentleman and Attendants.

King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 6

GENTLEMAN, noticing Lear 
 O, here he is. To an Attendant. Lay hand upon
 Your most dear daughter—
 No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even
210 The natural fool of Fortune. Use me well.
 You shall have ransom. Let me have surgeons;
 I am cut to th’ brains.
GENTLEMAN  You shall have anything.
LEAR No seconds? All myself?
215 Why, this would make a man a man of salt,
 To use his eyes for garden waterpots,
 Ay, and laying autumn’s dust.
 I will die bravely like a smug bridegroom. What?
 I will be jovial. Come, come, I am a king,
220 Masters, know you that?
 You are a royal one, and we obey you.
LEAR Then there’s life in ’t. Come, an you get it, you
 shall get it by running. Sa, sa, sa, sa.
The King exits running pursued by Attendants.
 A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch,
225 Past speaking of in a king. Thou hast a daughter
 Who redeems nature from the general curse
 Which twain have brought her to.
EDGAR Hail, gentle sir.
GENTLEMAN Sir, speed you. What’s your will?
230 Do you hear aught, sir, of a battle toward?
 Most sure and vulgar. Everyone hears that,
 Which can distinguish sound.
EDGAR  But, by your favor,
 How near’s the other army?

King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 6

235 Near and on speedy foot. The main descry
 Stands on the hourly thought.
EDGAR I thank you, sir. That’s all.
 Though that the Queen on special cause is here,
 Her army is moved on.
EDGAR 240 I thank you, sir.
Gentleman exits.
 You ever-gentle gods, take my breath from me;
 Let not my worser spirit tempt me again
 To die before you please.
EDGAR Well pray you, father.
GLOUCESTER 245Now, good sir, what are you?
 A most poor man, made tame to Fortune’s blows,
 Who, by the art of known and feeling sorrows,
 Am pregnant to good pity. Give me your hand;
 I’ll lead you to some biding.
He takes Gloucester’s hand.
GLOUCESTER 250 Hearty thanks.
 The bounty and the benison of heaven
 To boot, and boot.

Enter Oswald, the Steward.

OSWALD, drawing his sword 
 A proclaimed prize! Most happy!
 That eyeless head of thine was first framed flesh
255 To raise my fortunes. Thou old unhappy traitor,
 Briefly thyself remember; the sword is out
 That must destroy thee.
GLOUCESTER  Now let thy friendly hand
 Put strength enough to ’t.
Edgar steps between Gloucester and Oswald.
OSWALD 260 Wherefore, bold peasant,

King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 6

 Dar’st thou support a published traitor? Hence,
 Lest that th’ infection of his fortune take
 Like hold on thee. Let go his arm.
EDGAR Chill not let go, zir, without vurther ’casion.
OSWALD 265Let go, slave, or thou diest!
EDGAR Good gentleman, go your gait, and let poor
 volk pass. An ’chud ha’ bin zwaggered out of my
 life, ’twould not ha’ bin zo long as ’tis by a vortnight.
 Nay, come not near th’ old man. Keep out,
270 che vor’ ye, or Ise try whether your costard or my
 ballow be the harder. Chill be plain with you.
OSWALD Out, dunghill.
EDGAR Chill pick your teeth, zir. Come, no matter vor
 your foins.They fight.
OSWALD, falling 
275 Slave, thou hast slain me. Villain, take my purse.
 If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body,
 And give the letters which thou find’st about me
 To Edmund, Earl of Gloucester. Seek him out
 Upon the English party. O, untimely death! Death!
He dies.
280 I know thee well, a serviceable villain,
 As duteous to the vices of thy mistress
 As badness would desire.
GLOUCESTER What, is he dead?
EDGAR Sit you down, father; rest you.
285 Let’s see these pockets. The letters that he speaks of
 May be my friends. He’s dead; I am only sorry
 He had no other deathsman. Let us see.
He opens a letter.
 Leave, gentle wax, and, manners, blame us not.
 To know our enemies’ minds, we rip their hearts.
290 Their papers is more lawful.Reads the letter.
 Let our reciprocal vows be remembered. You have
 many opportunities to cut him off. If your will want
 not, time and place will be fruitfully offered. There is

King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 7

 nothing done if he return the conqueror. Then am I
295 the prisoner, and his bed my jail, from the loathed
 warmth whereof deliver me and supply the place for
 your labor.
 Your (wife, so I would say) affectionate servant,
 and, for you, her own for venture,Goneril.

300 O indistinguished space of woman’s will!
 A plot upon her virtuous husband’s life,
 And the exchange my brother.—Here, in the sands
 Thee I’ll rake up, the post unsanctified
 Of murderous lechers; and in the mature time
305 With this ungracious paper strike the sight
 Of the death-practiced duke. For him ’tis well
 That of thy death and business I can tell.
 The King is mad. How stiff is my vile sense
 That I stand up and have ingenious feeling
310 Of my huge sorrows! Better I were distract.
 So should my thoughts be severed from my griefs,
 And woes, by wrong imaginations, lose
 The knowledge of themselves.Drum afar off.
EDGAR  Give me your hand.
315 Far off methinks I hear the beaten drum.
 Come, father, I’ll bestow you with a friend.
They exit.