King Lear

Tell me, my daughters -Since now we will divest us both of rule,Interest of territory, cares of state -Which you shall we say doth love us most,That we our largest bounty may extendWhere nature doth merit challenge. (I.i.52-58) Chronology: Act 1, Scene 1, pg. 8-9Speaker: LearAudience: Goneril, Regan, Cordelia (Kent, Albany, and Cornwall, France, and Burgundy) Meaning: Tell me daughters, so I can split the state, tell me who loves me the most, because they will get the most landSignificance: Where Lear is most sane, deciding to split the land among his daughters, has the most power because he has land to give out
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.Why have my sisters husbands if they sayThey love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carryHalf my love with him, half my care and duty.Sure I shall never marry like my sisters,To love my father all. (I.i.105-115) Chronology: Act 1, Scene 1, pg. 12Speaker: CordeliaAudience: Lear, Sisters, Husbands, Kent Meaning: I love you as it is fit to love a father. My sisters aren’t being truthful because if they loved you as they said they wouldn’t have husbands. I will give half my love to my husband when I marry like I rightfully should.Significance: This is where Cordelia calls out her sisters and stands up for what she beliefs. She gets disowned and the land is split between her sisters. However, Lear wants to keep his title.
Answer my life this judgment,Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least,Nor are those empty-hearted whose low soundsReverb no hollowness (I.i.169-173) Chronology: Act 1, Scene 1, pg. 16Speaker: KentAudience: LearMeaning: I’d guarantee this on my life, your youngest daughter doesn’t love you least. Goneril and Regan’s words are hollow. Significance: Kent is telling Lear that he cares about him, so he wants to give him good advice. Results in him being banished.
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, or foulness, No unchaste action, or dishonour’d step, That hath deprived me of your grace and favour; 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. (I.i.257-268) Chronology: Act 1, Scene 1, pg. 22Speaker: CordeilaAudience: Lear, Suitors, SistersMeaning: Listen to me father, I do not speak with lies and deceit. Know that it wasn’t out of misdeed that I fell from your grace. I am not greedy and I tell the truth, which makes me a better person, even if it means I fall from your favor. Significance: It’s Cordelia standing up for herself even when Lear gives her a chance to come up with bullshit compliments to please him. Shows she has a backbone.
Love’s not loveWhen it is mingled with regards that stands Aloof from th’ entire point. Will you have her?She is herself a dowry. (1.i.275-278) Chronology: Act 1, Scene 1, pg. 22Speaker: FranceAudience: Cordelia, LearMeaning: Love is not love when given for another reason. She herself is a prize, even without the land.Significance: France chooses to marry Cordelia even though her father took away her part of the land for the other two sisters. Burgundy only wanted her with the land.
Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy lawMy services are bound. Wherefore should IStand in the plague of custom, and permitThe curiosity of nations to deprive me,For that I am some twelve or fourteen moon-shinesLag of a brother? Why bastard? wherefore base?When my dimensions are as well compact,My mind as generous, and my shape as true,As honest madam’s issue? Why brand they usWith base? with baseness? bastardy? base, base?Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, takeMore composition and fierce qualityThan doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed,Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops,Got ‘tween asleep and wake? Well, then,Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land:Our father’s love is to the bastard EdmundAs to the legitimate: fine word,–legitimate!Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed,And my invention thrive, Edmund the baseShall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper:Now, gods, stand up for bastards! (I.ii.1-23) Chronology: Act 1, Scene 2, pg. Speaker: EdmundAudience: Soliloquy Meaning: Why should I be any less than Edgar even if I’m a bastard child? I’m only 12-14 months younger. Otherwise I’m equal in anyway. I’m better because I was created in a moment of passion rather than a dull marriage bed. I want your land Edgar. Our father loves us the same. If I succeed in my plan I will have it. Significance: The will states that Edgar will have all of Gloucester’s land, but Edmund is driven to get it. He thinks he’s equal in every way. He is sneaky and manipulative.
This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in our own fortune (often the surfeits of our own behavior) we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and stars, as if we were villains on necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical dominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition on the charge of a star! My father compounded with my mother under the Dragon’s tail, and my nativity was under Ursa Major, so that it follows I am rough and lecherous. Fut, I should have been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing. (I.ii.125-140) Chronology: Act 1, Scene 2, pg. 36Speaker: EdmundAudience: Soliloquy Meaning: It’s foolish for people to blame the stars instead of themselves. My father and mother conceived me in a rough lecherous condition, so therefore I am who I am. Significance: About why Edmund is cruel and deceitful. He wants to plant the seed in Edgar’s head that their dad is mad at him. He tells Edgar to go armed and spend the night with him.
When thou clovest thy crown I’ the’ middle and gav’st away both parts, thou bor’st thine ass on thy back o’er the dirt. Thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown when thou gav’st thy golden one away. (I.iv.163-167) Chronology: Act 1, Scene 4, pg. 51-52Speaker: FoolAudience: LearMeaning: When you cut your kingdom in half you gave both parts away. You carried the donkey on your back over the dirt instead of riding it. Significance: Lear cut the power of his kingdom in half and gave it away, he’s left with an empty shell which is a crown of worthlessness and no power.
Hear, nature, hear; dear goddess, hear!Suspend thy purpose, if thou didst intendTo make this creature fruitful!Into her womb convey sterility!Dry up in her the organs of increase;And from her derogate body never springA babe to honour her! If she must teem,Create her child of spleen; that it may live,And be a thwart disnatured torment to her!Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth;With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks;Turn all her mother’s pains and benefitsTo laughter and contempt; that she may feelHow sharper than a serpent’s tooth it isTo have a thankless child! Away, away! (I.iv.289-303) Chronology: Act 1, Scene 4, pg. 58Speaker: LearAudience: Goneril (Albany)Meaning: Nature stop if you intended to make her have a child. If she does give birth, let the child be awful and live to make her life miserable. Let it make her ugly and have a bad time.Significance: This is when Lear has come to stay with Goneril and she demands he has less knights. He loses control and beats his own head and curses her. It shows a shift in power because he doesn’t have an actions he can take on her. Goneril then writes to Regan to complain about Lear and the knights.
Besides, his pictureI will send far and near, that all the kingdomMay have the due note of him; and of my land,Loyal and natural boy, I’ll work the meansTo make thee capable. (II.i.95-99) Chronology: Act 2, Scene 1, pg. 78Speaker: Gloucester Audience: Edmund Meaning: I will send search parties far and wide for Edgar. Now I will make you the beneficiary of my kingdom. Significance: Edmund wounded himself and told Edgar to flee to convince Gloucester that Edgar was trying to kill him. Says he got in a fight when he refused to kill Gloucester himself. As a result, Edmund becomes Gloucester’s heir.
That such a slave as this should wear a sword,Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these,Like rats, oft bite the holy cords a-twainWhich are too intrinse t’ unloose; smooth every passionThat in the natures of their lords rebel;Bring oil to fire, snow to their colder moods;Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaksWith every gale and vary of their masters,Knowing nought, like dogs, but following.A plague upon your epileptic visage!Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?Goose, if I had you upon Sarum plain,I’ld drive ye cackling home to Camelot. (II.ii.74-88) Chronology: Act 2, Scene 2, pg. 86Speaker: KentAudience: Oswald, CornwallMeaning: People like Oswald, slaves, always go along with their masters , instead of giving them advice when they need it. They would bring oil to a fire or snow to a cold temperature. They merely follow. Significance: He’s saying that Oswald wouldn’t challenge Goneril even if she’s wrong, or it is to help her. He is merely a slave, while servants like him will give good advice. However, Kent is punished for disrespecting Cornwall even though both Kent and Oswald were in a fight.
The king would speak with Cornwall; the dear fatherWould with his daughter speak, commands her service:Are they inform’d of this? My breath and blood!Fiery? the fiery duke? Tell the hot duke that–No, but not yet: may be he is not well:Infirmity doth still neglect all officeWhereto our health is bound; we are not ourselvesWhen nature, being oppress’d, commands the mindTo suffer with the body: I’ll forbear;And am fall’n out with my more headier will,To take the indisposed and sickly fitFor the sound man. Death on my state! whereforeShould he sit here? This act persuades meThat this remotion of the duke and herIs practice only. Give me my servant forth.Go tell the duke and ‘s wife I’d speak with them,Now, presently: bid them come forth and hear me,Or at their chamber-door I’ll beat the drumTill it cry sleep to death. (II.iv.112-134) Chronology: Act 2, Scene 4, pg. 102Speaker: LearAudience: Gloucester, Fool, Kent Meaning: “The king wants to speak with Cornwall. The father wants to speak with his daughter. He orders them—he begs them. Did you inform them of that? This is unbelievable! “Passionate”? The “passionate” duke? Tell the hot-headed duke that I… But no, not yet. Maybe he’s not feeling well. When we’re ill we can’t carry out our duties as well as when we’re healthy. When our bodies are out of order, our minds can’t function properly. I’ll hold off, and subdue my impulsive temper, which makes me judge a sick man as if he were well. (he notices KENT again) A curse on my royal power! Why should he sit here like this? The fact that they punished him convinces me that Regan and the duke are avoiding me on purpose. I want my servant released. Go tell the duke and his wife I’ll speak to them right now, at once. Tell them to come here and hear me out, or else I’ll beat a drum at their bedroom door until they can’t sleep any more.”Significance: Lear is in disbelief that his daughters would humiliate his servant. Cornwall and Regan don’t want to see Lear. He’s angry but his feelings shift (119) he begins to question himself (126) sees Kent and is angry again.
Thy tender-hefted nature shall not giveThee o’er to harshness: her eyes are fierce; but thineDo comfort and not burn. ‘Tis not in theeTo grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train,To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,And in conclusion to oppose the boltAgainst my coming in: thou better know’stThe offices of nature, bond of childhood,Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude;Thy half o’ the kingdom hast thou not forgot,Wherein I thee endow’d. (II.iv.193-205) Chronology: Act 2, Scene 4, pg. 108Speaker: LearAudience: Regan, CornwallMeaning: Regan you are tender natured, and your eyes don’t hold the same sharpness as Goneril’s. You don’t want to get on my bad side and cut off my knights. Therefore I’ll come to you, you haven’t forgotten that I was the one to give you half the kingdom. Significance: : When Lear says that Goneril has been terrible Regan says it’s probably his own fault because of the knights, and he shouldn’t have power. She thinks he should ask Goneril’s forgiveness. He sees this as ridiculous and responds with sarcasm. Lear attempts to appeal to his other daughter, who he believes not to be cruel. He says that she is his favorite child and he’s only mad at Goneril. However, when Goneril arrives Regan takes her hand.
O, reason not the need: our basest beggarsAre in the poorest thing superfluous:Allow not nature more than nature needs,Man’s life’s as cheap as beast’s: thou art a lady;If only to go warm were gorgeous,Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear’st,Which scarcely keeps thee warm. But, for true need -You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,As full of grief as age; wretched in both!If it be you that stir these daughters’ heartsAgainst their father, fool me not so muchTo bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger,And let not women’s weapons, water-drops,Stain my man’s cheeks! No, you unnatural hags,I will have such revenges on you both,That all the world shall–I will do such things,–What they are, yet I know not: but they shall beThe terrors of the earth. You think I’ll weepNo, I’ll not weep:I have full cause of weeping; but this heartShall break into a hundred thousand flaws,Or ere I’ll weep. O fool, I shall go mad! (II.iv.305-328) Chronology: Act 2, Scene 4, pg. 305Speaker: LearAudience: Cornwall, Regan, Goneril Meaning: I don’t need a reason to want knights. Even the beggar has things he doesn’t need, the same as fashion isn’t really practical for women. Gods give me patience. I’m an old man retched with my grief and age. If it is you that turned my daughters against me, let me deal with it well – don’t let me cry. No you hags, I will have revenge on you both. I don’t know how but I will punish you with the terrors of the earth. Significance: The sisters have been cutting down the knights from 50, 25, to zero and then ask why Lear needs knights at all. 1st he talks to Regan saying if he doesn’t have something he’s no better than a beast 2nd to the heavens asks him not to let me cry and 3rd to his daughters cursing him. There is a tragic universe, where the outside storms reflects his internal turmoil.
Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain!Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters:I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness;I never gave you kingdom, call’d you children,You owe me no subscription: then let fallYour horrible pleasure: here I stand, your slave,A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man:But yet I call you servile ministers,That have with two pernicious daughters join’dYour high engender’d battles ‘gainst a headSo old and white as this. O! O! ’tis foul! (III.ii.16-26) Chronology: Act 3, Scene 2, pg. 126Speaker: LearAudience: FoolMeaning: You weather aren’t my daughters. You don’t owe me anything, I never gave you a kingdom or called you children. Yet here I stand a poor old man, have you joined with my daughters to punish me? Significance: Lear is out in the storm yelling at the gods to kill him, and the Fool is in a caregiver role, pleading with him. Lear feels like the weather doesn’t owe him anything, but wonders if the elements are joining his daughters to finish him.
My wits begin to turn.Come on, my boy: how dost, my boy? art cold?I am cold myself. Where is this straw, my fellow?The art of our necessities is strange,That can make vile things precious. Come, your hovel.Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heartThat’s sorry yet for thee. (III.ii.73-80) Chronology: Act 3, Scene 2, pg. 130Speaker: LearAudience: Kent, FoolMeaning: “I’m starting to lose my mind. (to the FOOL) Come on, my boy. How are you? Are you cold? I’m cold myself. (to KENT) Where’s this hut, man? Odd how when you’re desperate, even shoddy things like this hut can seem precious. Show me where that hut is. Poor fool, part of me still feels sorry for you.”Significance: Kent finds him the storm and convinces him to go inside the hovel. Lear admits he’s done wrong, but has been punished for more than he’s done. Here is where Lear shows compassion for Kent and Fool.
Poor naked wretches, whereso’er you are,That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,Your loop’d and window’d raggedness, defend youFrom seasons such as these? O, I have ta’enToo little care of this! Take physic, pomp;Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,That thou mayst shake the superflux to them,And show the heavens more just. (III.iv.32-41) Chronology: Act 3, Scene 4, pg. 136Speaker: LearAudience: Kent, Poor Tom, FoolMeaning: Poor impoverished people, how have you been dealing with storms for all these years without homes? How do you defend yourself from the elements? I haven’t taken enough care of this. I must expose myself to what the poor feel and give the excess to them. Significance: He’s teetering on the edge of sanity and insanity. Lear is praying and speaking out to people suffering the storm, asking how peasants have endured this. He admits to being a bad ruler and wants wealthy to share their extra wealth with the poor.
Death, traitor! nothing could have subdued natureTo such a lowness but his unkind daughters.Is it the fashion, that discarded fathersShould have thus little mercy on their flesh?Judicious punishment! ’twas this flesh begotThose pelican daughters. (III.iv.76-81) Chronology: Act 3, Scene 4, pg. 138Speaker: LearAudience: Edgar, Fool, Kent, Meaning: Death to traitorous daughters, nothing could have caused this man this but unkind daughters. It is in their nature to throw away their fathers without mercy. They must be punishedSignificance: Edgar is in the hovel pretending to be crazy, and Lear tries to tear his clothes off to give to him. It shows the rage Lear has at his daughters, assuming that Edgar is naked and dirty because his daughters too.
I’ll talk a word with this same learned Theban.What is your study?How to prevent the fiend, and to kill vermin. (III.iv.165-167) Chronology: Act 3, Scene 4, pg. 144Speaker: Lear then EdgarAudience: Kent and Gloucester Meaning: I want to speak with this Greek philosopher, what do you study? How to keep the devil away and kill rats. Significance: Lear is clearly out of his mind because he thinks crazy Edgar can give advice (MORE?)
And here’s another, whose warp’d looks proclaimWhat store her heart is made on. Stop her there!Arms, arms, sword, fire! Corruption in the place!False justicer, why hast thou let her ‘scape? ( Chronology: Act 3, Scene 6, pg. 152 Speaker: LearAudience: Edgar, Kent, Fool, Meaning: Here is another foul daughter, what has made her heart this way? She’s escaping, there is corruption and no justice. Significance: Lear is hallucinating putting his daughters on trial because he wants official justice, and Fool and Edgar play along. However, even in this fake trial Goneril escapes, he can’t even get justice in a fake trial.
When we our betters see bearing our woes, We scarcely think our miseries our foes. Who alone suffers suffers most i’ the mind, Leaving free things and happy shows behind: But then the mind much sufferance doth o’er skip, When grief hath mates, and bearing fellowship. How light and portable my pain seems now, When that which makes me bend makes the king bow, He childed as I father’d! Tom, away! Mark the high noises; and thyself bewray, When false opinion, whose wrong thought defiles thee, In thy just proof, repeals and reconciles thee. What will hap more to-night, safe ‘scape the king! Lurk, lurk. ( Chronology: Act 3. Scene 6, pg. 156Speaker: EdgarAudience: Soliloquy Meaning: When we see people more powerful than us having the same problems, ours don’t seem that bad. Seeing the kings pain makes light of my issues. His children have done the same to him as my father has to me. Let’s go, Tom. We’ll pay attention to the political situation, and you’ll be able to reveal your true identity when you’re proven innocent. Whatever else happens tonight, I hope the king escapes safely! Lurk out of sight.Significance: Edgar reflects on seeing Lear in this state, and empathizes with the King because he was in a similar situation. However, Lear’ situation is worse because of his age it’s hard for Lear to adapt while Edgar can, and Lear is crazy. It’s hard in this scene for Edgar to act crazy as he watches Lear go actually crazy.
All dark and comfortless. Where’s my son Edmund? Edmund, enkindle all the sparks of nature, To quit this horrid act.Out, treacherous villain! Thou call’st on him that hates thee: it was he That made the overture of thy treasons to us; Who is too good to pity thee.O my follies! then Edgar was abused. Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him! (III.vii.103-112) Chronology: Act 3, Scene 7, pg. 164Speaker: Gloucester Audience: Regan, Cornwall, ServantsMeaning: It’s so dark and comfortless, where is my son Edmund? Save me from this horror. Significance: Cornwall and Regan put Gloucester on trial, but they already know what they want. They are extremely cruel and gouge out his eyes. This is the moment of irony when Gloucester calls out for Edmund and Regan reveals that it was all Edmund’s fault.
I have no way, and therefore want no eyes; I stumbled when I saw: full oft ’tis seen, Our means secure us, and our mere defects Prove our commodities. O dear son Edgar, The food of thy abused father’s wrath! Might I but live to see thee in my touch, I’d say I had eyes again! (IV.i.19-25) Chronology: Act 4, Scene 1, pg. 172Speaker: GloucesterAudience: Old Man, EdgarMeaning: I’ve lost everything, therefore I have no want of eyes. All I’ve done to poor Edgar, if only I could live to see his touch I would have eyes again. Significance: Gloucester is blind and miserable and has lost everything and sees no path out. He misses Edgar who he runs into, but Edgar continues to act crazy (he’s scared Gloucester won’t be able to handle the truth, and he’s not good at standing up for himself)
As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods.They kill us for their sport. (IV.i.41-42) Chronology: Act 4, Scene 1, pg. 172Speaker: GloucesterAudience: Edgar, Old ManMeaning: We are to the Gods as flies are to troublesome boys, killed without reason. Significance: Gloucester is being pessimistic and saying the God’s do things without reason (like Medea’s coda).
O, the difference of man and man!To thee a woman’s services are due:My fool usurps my body. (IV.ii.32-35) Chronology: Act 4, Scene 2, pg. 178Speaker: Goneril Audience: OswaldMeaning: The differences between two men. To a man like Edmund a woman’s services are do, I give my body to you. Significance: Shows Goneril’s passion for Edmund, thinks he’s a real man while Albany is a pushover. Pretenses the fight with her husband.
You are not worth the dust which the rude windBlows in your face. I fear your disposition:That nature, which contemns its origin,Cannot be border’d certain in itself;She that herself will sliver and disbranchFrom her material sap, perforce must witherAnd come to deadly use. (IV.ii.39-45) Chronology: Act 4, Scene 2, pg. 178 Speaker: AlbanyAudience: GonerilMeaning: You aren’t worth the dust blown in your face. You are rude and awful to condemn your own father. If you break yourself from your own family tree then you will wither and become deadly. Significance: Albany has a problem with how Goneril treated her father, and thinks that she will lead herself to death. He’s happy France’s army is coming.
Not to a rage: patience and sorrow stroveWho should express her goodliest. You have seenSunshine and rain at once: her smiles and tearsWere like a better way: those happy smilets,That play’d on her ripe lip, seem’d not to knowWhat guests were in her eyes; which parted thence,As pearls from diamonds dropp’d. In brief,Sorrow would be a rarity most beloved,If all could so become it. (IV.iii.19-27) Chronology: Act 4, Scene 3, pg. Speaker: GentlemanAudience: KentMeaning: There were no outbursts. She was struggling between emotion and self-control. You’ve seen how it can rain while the sun shines? That’s how she was, smiling and crying at once, only more lovely. The little smile on her full lips didn’t seem aware of the tears that were dropping like diamonds from her pearly eyes. If everyone looked so lovely in their sorrow, then sorrow would be highly prized.Significance: This is the description of Cordelia’s reaction to everything her sisters have done to her father. She’s described as angelic.
A sovereign shame so elbows him: his own unkindness,That stripp’d her from his benediction, turn’d herTo foreign casualties, gave her dear rightsTo his dog-hearted daughters, these things stingHis mind so venomously, that burning shameDetains him from Cordelia. (IV.iii.51-57) Chronology: Act 4, Scene 3, pg. 188Speaker: KentAudience: Gentleman Meaning: Lear is so ashamed of his own unkindness and disowning her, while giving her part to his awful other daughters. He’s haunted by the guilt and shame and it keeps him from Cordelia. Significance: Lear doesn’t want to see Cordelia because he’s ashamed of himself.
‘Tis known before; our preparation standsIn expectation of them. O dear father,It is thy business that I go about;Therefore great FranceMy mourning and important tears hath pitied.No blown ambition doth our arms incite,But love, dear love, and our aged father’s right:Soon may I hear and see him! (IV.iv.25-32) Chronology: Act 4, Scene 4, pg. 190Speaker: CordeliaAudience: Messenger and DoctorMeaning: Oh father, it is you I wish to restore to power. My husband France has taken pity on my sorrow, and is doing this for me. We don’t have ambitions for ourselves in this war, only for Lear’s restoration. Significance: Cordelia is sending a search party for Lear and is clarifying she has no ambitions of her own, only to help her father.
Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air,So many fathom down precipitating,Thou’dst shiver’d like an egg: but thou dost breathe;Hast heavy substance; bleed’st not; speak’st; art sound.Ten masts at each make not the altitudeWhich thou hast perpendicularly fell:Thy life’s a miracle. Speak yet again. ( Chronology: Act 4, Scene 6, pg. 198 Speaker: Edgar Audience: GloucesterMeaning: Even if you were made of feathers and air, you should’ve been smashed in pieces like an egg after falling as far as you just did. But your flesh is solid, your mind is strong, you’re breathing and talking, you’re not bleeding. You just fell the height of ten ship masts, straight down. It’s a miracle you’re alive. Say something again.Significance: Edgar is trying to convince Gloucester that he’s jumped off a cliff and therefore his survival makes his life a miracle. He’s trying to get rid of Poor Tom.
Through tatter’d clothes small vices do appear;Robes and furr’d gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks:Arm it in rags, a pigmy’s straw does pierce it.None does offend, none, I say, none; I’ll able ’em:Take that of me, my friend, who have the powerTo seal the accuser’s lips. Get thee glass eyes;And like a scurvy politician, seemTo see the things thou dost not. ( Chronology: Act 4, Scene 6, pg. 206Speaker: LearAudience: Gloucester, EdgarMeaning: (MORE)Significance: In the reunion of Gloucester and Lear, Lear is insane and Gloucester w/o eyes. It breaks Edgar’s heart to watch because Lear doesn’t get that it’s him. While he’s crazy, he does say true things. That poor people are more quickly punished than the rich who can use money to solve their problems.
Be your tears wet? yes, ‘faith. I pray, weep not:If you have poison for me, I will drink it.I know you do not love me; for your sistersHave, as I do remember, done me wrong:You have some cause, they have not.No cause, no cause. (IV.vii.81-87) Chronology: Act 4, Scene 7, pg. Speaker: LearAudience: Cordelia, Kent, DoctorMeaning: Are you crying? Don’t. If you hate me you have reason to, unlike your sisters who were cruel and didn’t. You have cause to hate me. Significance: When Lear gets his wits back he recognizes Cordelia and is ashamed of how he’s treated her. He thinks she has cause to hate him and punish, while Regan and Goneril did but without a due cause.
We are not the firstWho, with best meaning, have incurr’d the worst. (V.iii.4-5) Chronology: Act 5. Scene 3, pg. 234Speaker: CordeliaAudience: LearMeaning: We aren’t the first people with best intentions to suffer the worst fate. Significance: Cordelia is upset with how things turned out after the lose the war. Allusion to the bible because Jesus was crucified.
No, no, no, no! Come, let’s away to prison:We two alone will sing like birds i’ the cage:When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel down,And ask of thee forgiveness: so we’ll live,And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laughAt gilded butterflies, and hear poor roguesTalk of court news; and we’ll talk with them too,Who loses and who wins; who’s in, who’s out;And take upon’s the mystery of things,As if we were God’s spies: and we’ll wear out,In a wall’d prison, packs and sects of great ones,That ebb and flow by the moon. (V.iii.9-20) Chronology: Act 5, Scene 3, pg. 234Speaker: LearAudience: Cordelia Meaning: No, no, no, no! Come on, let’s go to prison. The two of us together will sing like birds in a cage. We will be good to each other. When you ask for my blessing, I’ll get down on my knees and ask you to forgive me. That’s how we’ll live—we’ll pray, we’ll sing, we’ll tell old stories, we’ll laugh at pretentious courtiers, we’ll listen to nasty court gossip, we’ll find out who’s losing and who’s winning, who’s in and who’s out. We’ll think about the mysteries of the universe as if we were God’s spies. In prison we’ll outlast hordes of rulers that will come and go as their fortunes change.Significance: Lear is trying to comfort Cordelia saying that they’ll go to prison together and talk and outlive their sentence.
Let’s exchange charity.I am no less in blood than thou art, Edmund;If more, the more thou hast wrong’d me.My name is Edgar, and thy father’s son.The gods are just, and of our pleasant vicesMake instruments to plague us:The dark and vicious place where thee he gotCost him his eyes.Thou hast spoken right, ’tis true;The wheel is come full circle: I am here. (V.iii.200-209) Chronology: Act 5, Scene 3, pg. 248Speaker: Edgar and EdmundAudience: Edmund, AlbanyMeaning: Let’s exchange charity. I’m no less in blood than Edmund, I’m Gloucester’s son Edgar. The Gods are fair, and our vices cause despair. Gloucester lost his eyes. You have spoken the truth, it has come full circle. Significance: When they win the war Albany wants the captives brought to him. He turns on Edmund and calls Edgar to testify. He accuses him of being a traitor, Edmund refuses, they duel, and Edmund is wounded. Edgar reveals himself finally but isn’t cruel.
I ask’d his blessing, and from first to lastTold him my pilgrimage: but his flaw’d heart,Alack, too weak the conflict to support!’Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief,Burst smilingly. (V.iii.231-235) Chronology: Act 5, Scene 3, pg. 248Speaker: EdgarAudience: Albany, EdmundMeaning: I asked for his blessing and told him of the trip we had together. However, it was too much for him to take, and he died of the combination of grief and joy with a broken heart. Significance: Edgar admits the fault of not revealing himself in time, no good time arose. Gloucester is dead but knew the truth.
Yet Edmund was beloved:The one the other poison’d for my sake,And after slew herself. (V.iii.287-289) Chronology: Act 5, Scene 3, pg. 252Speaker: EdmundAudience: Kent, AlbanyMeaning: I was loved because both of these women died for me. Significance: Goneril is jealous so she poisons Regan because she doesn’t want Regan to marry Edmund. Edmund still smug and full of himself. Goneril dies my stabbing herself which shows she commands her own fate.
All friends shall tasteThe wages of their virtue, and all foesThe cup of their deservings. (V.iii.366-268) Chronology: Act 5, Scene 3, pg. 258Speaker: Albany Audience: Messenger, Edgar, Lear, KentMeaning: I’ll split the kingdom between Edgar, Kent and Lear, you deserve it. Significance: Albany is fair and wants to split the kingdom between the righteous victors. However, this creates the very problem that started the conflict – a divided kingdom. However, Lear dies promptly
I have a journey, sir, shortly to go;My master calls me, I must not say no. (V.iii.390-391) Chronology: Act 5, Scene 3, pg. 260Speaker: KentAudience: Albany, Edgar Meaning: .I will have to go on a journey to death soon, sir. My master’s calling me. I can’t say no.Significance: Lear has died, and Kent knows he will too so he won’t take power.
The weight of this sad time we must obey,Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.The oldest hath borne most; we that are youngShall never see so much nor live so long. (V.iii.392-395) Chronology: Act 5, Scene 3, pg. 260 ENDSpeaker: EdgarAudience: Kent, Albany Meaning: We must remember the gravity of this sad day. We should speak what we feel, not what we ought to say. The oldest one suffered the most. We young ones will never see as much as he has seen, or live as long.Significance: CODA: That people should say what they must at the right time, because holding out can be bad. We are young and don’t know the same as the old. (MORE)