King Lear Quotations Act I

“I thought the King had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall.” KentSpeculating how Lear plays favorites
“His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge. I have so often blushed to acknowledge him that now I am brazed to’t.” GloucesterTalking about his illegitimate son, Edmund
“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 to the world before he was sent for, yet his mother fair, there was good sport at his making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged.” GloucesterEqualizing his legitimate son, Edgar and Edmund
“Tell me, my daughters (since now we will divest us both of rule, 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.” King LearAsking his daughters to tell him how much they love him
“Sir, I love you more than word 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; 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.” GonerilComparing her love for Lear to abstract images
“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 which the most precious square of sense professes, and find I am alone felicitate in your dear Highness’ love.” ReganGoing above and beyond Goneril’s speech of her love
“Nothing will come of nothing. Speak again.” King LearReplying to Cordelia’s very unsatisfactory response
“Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty according to my bond, no more nor less.” CordeliaExplaining her affection for her dad, King Lear
“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, by you to be sustained, shall our abode make with you by due turn. Only we shall retain the name, and all th’ addition to a king.” King LearGiving up responsibility, but still expecting to be treated as a king (biggest mistake)
“Be Kent unmannerly when Lear is mad. What wouldst though do, old man? Think’st thou that duty shall have dread to speak when power to flattery bows? To plainness honor’s bound when majesty falls to folly. Reserve thy state, and in thy best consideration check this hideous rashness.” KentTrying to get King Lear to think about the mistake he has just made
“See better, Lear, and let me still remain the true blank of thine eye.” KentTrying to be reasonable and help Lear to see better
“This is most strange, that she whom even but now was your best object, the argument of your praise, balm of your age, the best, the dearest, should in this trice of time commit a thing so monstrous to dismantle so many folds of favor. Sure her offense must be of such unnatural degree that monsters it, or your fore-vouched affection fall into taint…” King of France (husband of Cordelia)Calling out King Lear on his rash decision to disown Cordelia, considering how favorably he used to look upon her
“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.” King of FranceProfessing his love for Cordelia despite her being disowned
“The jewels of our father, with washed eyes Cordelia leaves you. I know you what you are, and, like a sister, am most loath to call your faults as they are named. Love well our father. To your professed bosoms I commit him. But yet, alas, stood I within his grace, I would prefer him to a better place.” CordeliaCalling out her sisters’ trickery, and still maintaining that she loves Lear and cares about his fate
“We must do something, and i’ th’ heat.” GonerilPlanning with Regan to do something about Lear’s apparent decline, after passing poor judgment on both Kent and Cordelia
“For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines lag 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 us with base? With baseness? Bastardy? Base? Base?…Our father’s love is to the bastard Edmund as to th’ legitimate.” EdmundDiscussing the family dynamic between him, Edgar, and their father, Gloucester-saying that he deserves as much love as Edgar, the legitimate child
“No? What needed then that terrible dispatch of it into your pocket? The quality of nothing hath not such need to hide itself. Let’s see.” GloucesterAsking Edmund to see the letter he quickly tried to hide
” ‘I begin to find an idle and fond bondage in the oppression of aged tyranny, who sways, not as it hath power, but as it suffered…If our father would sleep till I waked him, you should enjoy half his revenue for ever…” Gloucester reading Edgar’s letter to EdmundEdgar writes to Edmund asking him to overthrow Gloucester because he is senile
“These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us. Though the wisdom of Nature can reason it thus and thus, yet Nature finds itself scourged by the sequent effects. Love cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide. In cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in palaces, treason; and the bond cracked ‘twixt son and father…Machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all ruinous disorders follow us disquietly to our graves.” GloucesterDiscussing Edgar’s disloyalty
“This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune often the surfeits of our own behavior, we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as if we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion…” EdmundSaying that we place our blame on fate, and take no responsibility for our actions
“A credulous father, and a brother noble, whose nature is so far from doing harms that he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty my practices ride easy. I see the business. Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit. All with me’s meet that I can fashion fit.” EdmundPlanning his betrayal of his father; bitter about being the bastard child
“Idle old man, that still would manage those authorities that he hath given away. Now, by my life, old fools are babes again, and must be used with checks as flatteries when they are seen abused.” GonerilKing Lear has become stupid like a baby; planning on setting things right
“If but as well I other accents borrow that can my speech defuse, my good intent may carry through itself to that full issue for which I razed my likeness. Now, banished Kent, if thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemned, so may it come, thy master whom thou lov’st shall find thee full of labors.” KentDespite being banished, Kent is dedicated to remaining faithful to Lear
“If I gave them all my living, I’d keep my coxcombs myself. There’s mine; beg another of thy daughters.” FoolHinting at Lear that he is made a fool by his daughters
“Have more than thou showest, speak less than thou knowest, lend less than thou owest, ride more than thou goest, learn more than thou trowest, set less than thou throwest, leave thy drink and thy *****, and keep in-a-door, and thou shalt have more than two tens to a score.” FoolTelling Lear to maintain his royalty and to make clever decisions
“Why, no boy. Nothing can be made out of nothing.” King LearRepeating this same line he used on Cordelia, now directed at the fool…telling him his rhyme about protecting his royalty is nothing
“Dost thou call me fool, boy?””All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast born with.” King LearFoolSaying that Lear is nothing but a fool now
“Why, after I have cut the egg i’ th’ middle and eat up the meat, the two crowns of the egg. When thou clovest thy crown i’ th’ 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.” FoolCriticizing King Lear’s decision to divide up the kingdom; comparing in to the broken shell of an egg
“Then they for sudden joy did weep, and I for sorrow sung, that such a king should play bo-peep.” FoolComparing King Lear to bo-peep, who is blind
“I am better than thou art now: I am a Fool, thou art nothing.” FoolThe Fool may be full of nonsense, but at least he is not nothing like King Lear
“I had thought by making this well known unto you to have found a safe redress, but now grow fearful, by what yourself too late have spoke and done, that you protect this course, and put t on by your allowance…” GonerilSaying that she is surprised King Lear has fostered such chaos in his kingdom
“Does any here know me? This is not Lear. Does Lear walk thus? Speak thus? Where are his eyes?” King LearLear senses the power shift between him and his daughters, and he is beginning to go mad
“O most small fault, how ugly didst thou in Cordelia show! Which, like an engine, wrenched my frame of nature from the fixed place; drew from my heart all love, and added to the gall. O Lear, Lear, Lear! Beat at this gate that let thy folly in and thy dear judgment out.” King LearCordelia’s response has caused him to go insane, and this marks the beginning of him losing all reason
“Life and death, I am ashamed that thou hast the power to shake my manhood thus! That these hot tears, which break from me perforce, should make thee worth them…Old fond eyes, beweep this cause again, I’ll pluck ye out and cast you…” King LearGoneril has caused him to go absolutely mad
“How far your eyes may pierce I cannot tell; striving to better, oft we mar what’s well.” Albany (Goneril’s husband)Warning Goneril not to go to far
“I will forget my nature. So kind a father!” King LearBeginning to go mad; will not be a father anymore to his daughters
“Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.” FoolKing Lear is old, but only crazy, not wise
“O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven! Keep me in temper; I would not be mad!” King Lear