The Tragedy of King Lear - William Shakespeare - ebook

Full of cruelty and betrayal, King Lear is the timeless and timely story of a kingdom held in the thrall of an aging ruler's descent into madness.Desperate for praise, he banishes those who would guide him with honesty and surrounds himself with sycophants—an action which leads to his ultimately tragic downfall...

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Table of Contents

Dramatis personae


Scene I. [King Lear's Palace.]

Scene II. The Earl of Gloucester's Castle.

Scene III. The Duke of Albany's Palace.

Scene IV. The Duke of Albany's Palace.

Scene V. Court before the Duke of Albany's Palace.


Scene I. A court within the Castle of the Earl of Gloucester.

Scene II. Before Gloucester's Castle.

Scene III. The open country.

Scene IV. Before Gloucester's Castle; Kent in the stocks.


Scene I. A heath.

Scene II. Another part of the heath.

Scene III. Gloucester's Castle.

Scene IV. The heath. Before a hovel.

Scene VI. A farmhouse near Gloucester's Castle.

Scene VII. Gloucester's Castle.


Scene I. The heath.

Scene II. Before the Duke of Albany's Palace.

Scene III. The French camp near Dover.

Scene IV. The French camp.

Scene V. Gloucester's Castle.

Scene VI. The country near Dover.

Scene VII. A tent in the French camp.


Scene I. The British camp near Dover.

Scene II. A field between the two camps.

Scene III. The British camp, near Dover.

William Shakespeare

The Tragedy of King Lear

© David De Angelis 2017 - All rights reserved

Dramatis Personae

Lear, King of Britain.

King of France.

Duke of Burgundy.

Duke of Cornwall.

Duke of Albany.

Earl of Kent.

Earl of Gloucester.

Edgar, son of Gloucester.

Edmund, bastard son to Gloucester.

Curan, a courtier.

Old Man, tenant to Gloucester.

Doctor. Lear's Fool.

Oswald, steward to Goneril.

A Captain under Edmund's command.


A Herald.

Servants to Cornwall.

Goneril, daughter to Lear.

Regan, daughter to Lear.

Cordelia, daughter to Lear.

Knights attending on Lear, Officers, Messengers, Soldiers, Attendants.


Scene I. [King Lear's Palace.]

Enter Kent, Gloucester, andEdmund. [Kent and Glouceste converse.Edmund stands back.]

Kent. I thought the King had more affected the Duke of Albanythan Cornwall. Glou. It did always seem so to us; but now, in the division ofthe kingdom, it appears not which ofthe Dukes he values most,for equalities are so weigh'd that curiosity in neither can make choice of either's moiety. Kent. Is not this your son, my lord? Glou. His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge. I have sooften blush'd to acknowledge him that now I am braz'd to't. Kent. I cannot conceive you. Glou. Sir, this young fellow's mother could; whereupon she grew round-womb'd, and had indeed, sir, a son for her cradle ereshe had a husband for her bed. Do you smell a fault? Kent. I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper. Glou. But I have, sir, a son by order of law, some year elderthan this, who yet is no dearer in my account. Though this knavecame something saucily into the world before he was sent for, yetwas his mother fair, there was good sport at his making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged.- Do you know this noblegentleman, Edmund? Edm. [comes forward] No, my lord. Glou. MyLord of Kent. Remember him hereafter as my honourable friend. Edm. My services to your lordship. Kent. I must love you, and sue to know you better. Edm. Sir, I shall study deserving. Glou. He hath been out nine years, and away he shall again. Sound a sennet. The King is coming.

Enter one bearing a coronet; then Lear; then the Dukes of Albany and Cornwall; next, Goneril, Regan, Cordelia, with Followers.

Lear. Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester. Glou. I shall, my liege. Exeunt [Gloucester and Edmund]. Lear. Meantime we shall express our darker purpose. Give me the map there. Know we have divided In three our kingdom; and 'tis our fast intent To shake all cares and business from our age, Conferring them on younger strengths while we Unburthen'd crawl toward death. Our son ofCornwall, 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 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 answer'd. 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. Goneril, Our eldest-born, speak first. Gon. 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, honour; As much as child e'er lov'd, or father found; A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable. Beyond all mannerof so much I love you. Cor. [aside] What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent. Lear. Of all these bounds, even from this line to this, With shadowy forests and with champains rich'd, 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. Reg. Sir, I am made Of the selfsame metal that my sister is, 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 possesses, And find I am alone felicitate Inyour dear Highness' love. Cor. [aside] Then poor Cordelia! And yet not so; since I am sure my love's More richer than my tongue. Lear. To thee and thine hereditary ever Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom, No less in space, validity, and pleasure Than that conferr'd on Goneril.- Now, our joy, Although the last, not least; to whose young love The vines of France and milk of Burgundy Strive to be interest; what can you say to draw A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak. Cor. Nothing, my lord. Lear. Nothing? Cor. Nothing. Lear. Nothing can come of nothing. Speak again. Cor. Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave My heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty According to my bond; no more nor less. Lear. How, how, Cordelia? Mend your speech a little, Lest it may mar your fortunes. Cor. Good my lord, You have begot me, bred me, lov'd me; I Return those duties back as are right fit, Obey you, love you, and most honour you. 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, To love my father all. Lear. But goes thy heart with this? Cor. Ay, good my lord. Lear. So young, and so untender? Cor. So young, my lord, and true. Lear. Let it be so! thy truth then bethy dower! 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, 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 Be as well neighbour'd, pitied, and reliev'd, As thou my sometime daughter. Kent. Good my liege- Lear. Peace, Kent! Come not between the dragon and his wrath. I lov'd her most, and thought to set my rest On her kind nursery.- Hence and avoid my sight!- So bemy 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 this third; Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her. I do invest you jointly in my power, Preeminence, and all the large effects That troop with majesty. Ourself, by monthly course, With reservation of an hundred knights, By you to be sustain'd, shall our abode Make with you by due turns. Only we still retain The name, and all th' additions to a king. The sway, Revenue, execution of the rest, Beloved sons, be yours; which to confirm, This coronet part betwixt you. Kent. Royal Lear, Whom I have ever honour'd as my king, Lov'd as my father, as my master follow'd, As my great patron thought on in my prayers- Lear. The bow is bent and drawn; make from the shaft. Kent. Let it fall rather, though the fork invade The region of my heart! Be Kent unmannerly When Lear is mad. What wouldst thou do, old man? Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour's bound When majesty falls to folly. Reverse thy doom; 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 sound Reverbs no hollowness. Lear. Kent, on thylife, no more! Kent. My life I never held but as a pawn To wage against thine 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 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! [Lays his hand on his sword.] Alb., Corn. Dear sir, forbear! Kent. Do! Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift, Or, whilst I can vent clamour 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 vow- Which we durst never yet- and with strain'd pride To come between our sentence 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 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 banish'd trunk be found in our dominions, The moment is thy death. Away! By Jupiter, This shall not be revok'd. Kent. Fare thee well, King. Since 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! [To Regan and Goneril] And your large speeches may yourdeeds approve, That good effects may spring from words of love. Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu; He'llshape his old course in a country new.Exit.

Flourish. Enter Gloucester, with France and Burgundy;Attendants.