Lear (King of Britain) Goneril, Regan, Cordelia (Lear's daughters) Duke of Albany (Goneril's husband) Duke of Cornwall (Regan's husband) Earl of Kent Earl of Gloucester Edgar (Gloucester's older son) Edmund (Gloucester's younger son, illegitimate) King of France Duke of Burgundy Fool Oswald (Goneril's steward) Curran (Gloucester's servant) Old Man, Doctor, Captain, Herald, Knights, Messengers, Servants, Soldiers
SCENE 1 King Lear's palace
ENTER Kent, Gloucester, and Edmund
Kent I thought the King had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall.
Gloucester It did always seem so to us. But now, in the division of the kingdom, it appears not which of the dukes he values most, for qualities are so weighed that curiosity in neither 5 can make choice of either's moiety.
Kent Is not this your son, my lord?
Gloucester His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge. I have so often blushed to acknowledge him, that now I am brazed to it. 10
Kent I cannot conceive you.
Gloucester Sir, this young fellow's mother could, whereupon she grew round-wombed, and had (indeed) sir a son for her cradle, ere she had a husband for her bed. Do you smell a fault? 15
Kent I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.
Gloucester But I have a son, sir, by order of law, some year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account, though this knave came something saucily into the world 20 before he was sent for. Yet was his mother fair, there was good sport at his making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged. Do you know this noble gentleman, Edmund?
Edmund No, my lord. 25
Gloucester My Lord of Kent. Remember him hereafter as my honorable friend.
Edmund My services to your lordship.
Kent I must love you, and sue to know you better.
Edmund Sir, I shall study deserving. 30
Gloucester He hath been out nine years, and away he shall again.
SENNET The King is coming. ENTER King Lear, Cornwall, Albany, Goneril, Regan, Cordelia, and Attendants Lear Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester. 35
Gloucester I shall, my liege. EXEUNT Gloucester and Edmund
Lear Meantime we shall express our darker purpose. Give me the map there. Know, that we have divided In three our kingdom. And 'tis our fast intent To shake all cares and business from our age, 40 Conferring them on younger strengths, while we Unburthened crawl toward death. Our son of Cornwall, And you, our no less loving son of Albany, We have this hour a constant will to publish Our daughters' several dowers, that future strife 45 May be prevented now. The princes, France and Burgundy, Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love, Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn, And here are to be answered. Tell me, my daughters (Since now we will divest us both of rule, 50 Interest of territory, cares of state), Which of you shall we say doth love us most, That we our largest bounty may extend Where nature doth with merit challenge. Goneril, Our eldest-born, speak first. 55
Goneril Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter, Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty, Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare, No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor. 60 As much as child e'er loved, or father found. A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable- Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
Cordelia (aside) What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent.
Lear (referring to map) Of all these bounds, even from this 65 line, to this, With shadowy forests and with champains riched With plenteous rivers, and wide-skirted meads, We make thee lady. To thine and Albany's issue Be this perpetual. What says our second daughter, Our dearest Regan, wife to Cornwall? Speak. 70
Regan I am made of that self mettle as my sister, And prize me at her worth. In my true heart I find she names my very deed of love, Only she comes too short. That I profess Myself an enemy to all other joys 75 Which the most precious square of sense possesses, And find I am alone felicitate In your dear Highness'love.
Cordelia (aside) Then poor Cordelia! And yet not so, since I am sure my love's More ponderous than my tongue. 80
Lear To thee and thine hereditary ever Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom, No less in space, validity, and pleasure Than that conferred on Goneril. Now our joy, Although our last and least, to whose young love 85 The vines of France and milk of Burgundy Strive to be of interest. What can you say to draw A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak.
Cordelia Nothing, my lord.
Lear Nothing? 90
Lear Nothing will come of nothing, speak again.
Cordelia Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave My heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty According to my bond, no more nor less. 95
Lear How now, Cordelia? Mend your speech a little, Lest you may mar your fortunes.
Cordelia Good my lord, You have begot me, bred me, loved me. I Return those duties back as are right fit, Obey you, love you, and most honor you. 100 Why have my sisters husbands, if they say They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed, That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry Half my love with him, half my care and duty. Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters, 105 To love my father all.
Lear But goes thy heart with this?
Cordelia Ay, good my lord.
Lear So young, and so untender?
Cordelia So young, my lord, and true.
Lear Let it be so,thy truth then be thy dower. 110 For by the sacred radiance of the sun, The mysteries of Hecate and the night, By all the operation of the orbs From whom we do exist and cease to be, Here I disclaim all my paternal care, 115 Propinquity and property of blood, And as a stranger to my heart and me Hold thee from this for ever. The barbarous Scythian, Or he that makes his generation messes To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom 120 Be as well neighbored, pitied, and relieved, As thou my sometime daughter.
Kent Good my liege-
Lear Peace, Kent! Come not between the dragon and his wrath. I loved her most, and thought to set my rest 125 On her kind nursery. (to Cordelia) Hence, and avoid my sight! So be my grave my peace, as here I give Her father's heart from her! Call France: who stirs? Call Burgundy. Cornwall and Albany, With my two daughters' dowers digest the third. 130 Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her. I do invest you jointly with my power, Pre-eminence, and all the large effects That troop with majesty. Ourself, by monthly course, With reservation of an hundred knights, 135 By you to be sustained, shall our abode Make with you by due turns, only we shall retain The name, and all th' addition to a king. The sway, revenue, execution of the rest, Belov��d sons be yours, which to confirm, 140 This coronet part betwixt you.
Lear gives Albany and Cornwall his crown
Kent Royal Lear, Whom I have ever honored as my king, Loved as my father, as my master followed, As my great patron thought on in my prayers-
Lear The bow is bent and drawn, make from the shaft. 145
Kent Let it fall rather, though the fork invade The region of my heart. Be Kent unmannerly, When Lear is mad. What wilt thou do, old man? Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak, When power to flattery bows? To plainness honor's bound, 150 When majesty stoops to folly. Reserve thy state, And in thy best consideration check This hideous rashness. Answer my life my judgment. Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least, Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sounds 155 Reverb no hollowness.
Lear Kent, on thy life, no more.
Kent My life I never held but as a pawn To wage against thy enemies, nor fear to lose it, Thy safety being the motive.
Lear Out of my sight!
Kent See better, Lear, and let me still remain 160 The true blank of thine eye.
Lear Now, by Apollo-
Kent Now, by Apollo, King, Thou swear'st thy gods in vain.
Lear O vassal! Miscreant!
Lear puts his hand on his sword
Albany, Cornwall (to Lear) Dear sir, forbear.
Kent Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow 165 Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift, Or whilst I can vent clamor from my throat, I'll tell thee thou dost evil.
Lear Hear me, recreant! On thine allegiance, hear me! Since thou hast sought to make us break our vows, 170 Which we durst never yet, and with strain��d pride To come between our sentences and our power, Which nor our nature nor our place can bear, Our potency made good, take thy reward. Five days we do allot thee, for provision 175 To shield thee from diseases of the world, And on the sixth to turn thy hated back Upon our kingdom. If on the tenth day following, Thy banished trunk be found in our dominions, The moment is thy death. Away! By Jupiter, 180 This shall not be revoked.
Kent Fare thee well, King. Sith thus thou wilt appear, Freedom lives hence, and banishment is here. (to Cordelia) The gods to their dear shelter take thee, maid, That justly think'st, and hast most rightly said. 185 (to Regan and Goneril) And your large speeches may your deeds approve, That good effects may spring from words of love. Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu, He'll shape his old course in a country new.
enter Gloucester, with France, Burgundy, and Attendants
Gloucester Here's France and Burgundy, my noble lord. 190
Lear My lord of Burgundy, We first address toward you, who with this king Hath rivaled for our daughter. What in the least Will you require in present dower with her, Or cease your quest of love?
Burgundy Most royal Majesty, 195 I crave no more than hath your Highness offered, Nor will you tender less.
Lear Right noble Burgundy, When she was dear to us, we did hold her so, But now her price is fallen. Sir, there she stands. If aught within that little-seeming substance, 200 Or all of it, with our displeasure pieced, And nothing more, may fitly like your Grace, She's there, and she is yours.
Burgundy I know no answer.
Lear Will you, with those infirmities she owes, Unfriended, new adopted to our hate, 205 Dowered with our curse, and strangered with our oath, Take her, or leave her?
Burgundy Pardon me, royal sir. Election makes not up on such conditions.
Lear Then leave her, sir, for by the power that made me, I tell you all her wealth. (to France) For you, great King, 210 I would not from your love make such a stray To match you where I hate, therefore beseech you To avert your liking a more worthier way Than on a wretch whom Nature is ashamed Almost t'acknowledge hers.
France This is most strange, 215 That she that even but now was your best object, The argument of your praise, balm of your age, Most best, most dearest, should in this trice of time Commit a thing so monstrous, to dismantle So many folds of favor. Sure her offense 220 Must be of such unnatural degree, That monsters it, or your fore-vouched affection Fall into taint, which to believe of her Must be a faith that reason without miracle Could never plant in me.
Cordelia (to Lear) I yet beseech your Majesty- If for I want that glib and oily art, To speak and purpose not, since what I well intend I'll do't before I speak - that you make known It is no vicious blot, murder, foulness, No unchaste action or dishonored step 230 That hath deprived me of your grace and favor, But even for want of that for which I am richer, A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue As I am glad I have not, though not to have it Hath lost me in your liking.
Lear Better thou 235 Hadst not been born than not t'have pleased me better.
France Is it but this? A tardiness in nature Which often leaves the history unspoke That it intends to do? My Lord of Burgundy, What say you to the lady? Love's not love 240 When it is mingled with regards that stand Aloof from the entire point. Will you have her? She is herself a dowry.
Burgundy Royal Lear, Give but that portion which yourself proposed, And here I take Cordelia by the hand, 245 Duchess of Burgundy.
Lear Nothing, I have sworn, I am firm.
Burgundy (to Cordelia) I am sorry, then, you have so lost a father That you must lose a husband.
Cordelia Peace be with Burgundy. Since that respects of fortune are his love, 250 I shall not be his wife.
France Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor; Most choice, forsaken, and most loved, despised. Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon, Be it lawful I take up what's cast away. 255 Gods, gods! 'Tis strange that from their cold'st neglect My love should kindle to inflamed respect. Thy dowerless daughter, King, thrown to my chance, Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France.
Excerpted from King Learby William Shakespeare Copyright © 2007 by Burton Raffel. Excerpted by permission.
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