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King Lear
Act 5, scene 1

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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 1
Enter, with Drum and Colors, Edmund, Regan,
Gentlemen, and Soldiers.


EDMUND, to a Gentleman 
 Know of the Duke if his last purpose hold,
 Or whether since he is advised by aught
 To change the course. He’s full of alteration
 And self-reproving. Bring his constant pleasure.
A Gentleman exits.
REGAN 
5 Our sister’s man is certainly miscarried.
EDMUND 
 ’Tis to be doubted, madam.
REGAN  Now, sweet lord,
 You know the goodness I intend upon you;
 Tell me but truly, but then speak the truth,
10 Do you not love my sister?
EDMUND  In honored love.
REGAN 
 But have you never found my brother’s way
 To the forfended place?
EDMUND That thought abuses you.
REGAN 
15 I am doubtful that you have been conjunct
 And bosomed with her as far as we call hers.
EDMUND No, by mine honor, madam.
227

229
King Lear
ACT 5. SC. 1

REGAN 
 I never shall endure her. Dear my lord,
 Be not familiar with her.
EDMUND 
20 Fear me not. She and the Duke, her husband.

Enter, with Drum and Colors, Albany, Goneril, Soldiers.

GONERIL, aside 
 I had rather lose the battle than that sister
 Should loosen him and me.
ALBANY 
 Our very loving sister, well bemet.—
 Sir, this I heard: the King is come to his daughter,
25 With others whom the rigor of our state
 Forced to cry out. Where I could not be honest,
 I never yet was valiant. For this business,
 It touches us as France invades our land,
 Not bolds the King, with others whom, I fear,
30 Most just and heavy causes make oppose.
EDMUND 
 Sir, you speak nobly.
REGAN  Why is this reasoned?
GONERIL 
 Combine together ’gainst the enemy,
 For these domestic and particular broils
35 Are not the question here.
ALBANY  Let’s then determine
 With th’ ancient of war on our proceeding.
EDMUND 
 I shall attend you presently at your tent.
REGAN Sister, you’ll go with us?
GONERIL 40No.
REGAN 
 ’Tis most convenient. Pray, go with us.
GONERIL, aside 
 Oho, I know the riddle.—I will go.
They begin to exit.

231
King Lear
ACT 5. SC. 1

Enter Edgar dressed as a peasant.

EDGAR, to Albany 
 If e’er your Grace had speech with man so poor,
 Hear me one word.
ALBANY, to those exiting 
45 I’ll overtake you.—Speak.
Both the armies exit.
EDGAR, giving him a paper 
 Before you fight the battle, ope this letter.
 If you have victory, let the trumpet sound
 For him that brought it. Wretched though I seem,
 I can produce a champion that will prove
50 What is avouchèd there. If you miscarry,
 Your business of the world hath so an end,
 And machination ceases. Fortune love you.
ALBANY Stay till I have read the letter.
EDGAR I was forbid it.
55 When time shall serve, let but the herald cry
 And I’ll appear again.He exits.
ALBANY 
 Why, fare thee well. I will o’erlook thy paper.

Enter Edmund.

EDMUND 
 The enemy’s in view. Draw up your powers.
Giving him a paper.
 Here is the guess of their true strength and forces
60 By diligent discovery. But your haste
 Is now urged on you.
ALBANY  We will greet the time.
He exits.
EDMUND 
 To both these sisters have I sworn my love,
 Each jealous of the other as the stung
65 Are of the adder. Which of them shall I take?

233
King Lear
ACT 5. SC. 2

 Both? One? Or neither? Neither can be enjoyed
 If both remain alive. To take the widow
 Exasperates, makes mad her sister Goneril,
 And hardly shall I carry out my side,
70 Her husband being alive. Now, then, we’ll use
 His countenance for the battle, which, being done,
 Let her who would be rid of him devise
 His speedy taking off. As for the mercy
 Which he intends to Lear and to Cordelia,
75 The battle done and they within our power,
 Shall never see his pardon, for my state
 Stands on me to defend, not to debate.
He exits.