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Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: King Lear (Modern, Folio)
  • Editor: Michael Best
  • Textual editors: James D. Mardock, Eric Rasmussen
  • Coordinating editor: Michael Best
  • Research assistants: Quinn MacDonald, Michelle Spelay
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-463-9

    Copyright Michael Best. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Michael Best
    Not Peer Reviewed

    King Lear (Modern, Folio)

    Enter Goneril, [Edmund the] Bastard, and [Oswald, the] steward.
    Goneril
    Welcome, my lord. I marvel our mild husband
    Not met us on the way. Now, where's your master?
    2270Oswald
    Madam, within, but never man so changed.
    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,
    2275When 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 the Bastard] Then shall you go no further.
    2280It 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.
    2285I 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,
    A mistress's command. Wear this--spare speech.
    [Gives him a favor of some kind.]
    2290Decline your head.
    [She kisses him.]
    This kiss, if it durst speak,
    Would stretch thy spirits up into the air.
    Conceive--and fare thee well.
    Bastard
    Yours in the ranks of death.
    Exit.
    Goneril
    My most dear Gloucester.
    2295Oh, the difference of man and man.
    To thee a woman's services are due--
    My fool usurps my body.
    Oswald
    Madam, here comes my lord.
    [Exit Oswald.]
    Enter Albany.
    2300Goneril
    I have been worth the whistle.
    Albany
    O Goneril,
    You are not worth the dust which the rude wind
    Blows in your face.
    Goneril
    Milk-livered man,
    2305That bear'st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs,
    Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning
    Thine honor from thy suffering.
    Albany
    See thyself, devil.
    Proper deformity seems not in the fiend
    2310So horrid as in woman.
    Goneril
    O vain fool.
    Enter a Messenger.
    Messenger
    O my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall's dead,
    Slain by his servant, going to put out
    2315The other eye of Gloucester.
    Albany
    Gloucester's eyes?
    Messenger
    A servant that he bred, thrilled with remorse,
    Opposed against the act; bending his sword
    To his great master, who, threat-enraged,
    2320Flew on him, and amongst them felled him dead;
    But not without that harmful stroke which since
    Hath plucked him after.
    Albany
    This shows you are above
    You justices, that these our nether crimes
    2325So speedily can venge. But oh, poor Gloucester,
    Lost he his other eye?
    Messenger
    Both, both, my lord.
    [To Goneril] This letter, madam, craves a speedy answer.
    'Tis from your sister.
    2330Goneril
    [Aside] One way I like this well;
    But being widow, and my Gloucester with her,
    May all the building in my fancy pluck
    Upon my hateful life. Another way
    The news is not so tart. [Aloud] I'll read, and answer.
    [Exit Goneril.]
    Where was his son when they did take his eyes?
    Messenger
    Come with my lady hither.
    Albany
    He is not here?
    Messenger
    No, my good lord, I met him back again.
    2340Albany
    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
    Gloucester, I live
    2345To thank thee for the love thou showed'st the King,
    And to revenge thine eyes.--Come hither, friend,
    Tell me what more thou knowest.