King Lear : Act 1, Scene 1



           Enter KENT, GLOUCESTER, and EDMUND.
           Summary

      KENT
affected favored
  1   I thought the king had more affected the Duke of
Cornwall i.e., the Duke of Cornwall
  2   Albany than Cornwall.

      GLOUCESTER
  3   It did always seem so to us: but now, in the
  4   division of the kingdom, it appears not which of
equalities equivalences
  5   the dukes he values most; for equalities are so
weighed balanced | curiosity meticulous scrutiny | moiety portion, allotment
  6   weighed, that curiosity in neither can make choice
  7   of either's moiety.

      KENT
  8   Is not this your son, my lord?

      GLOUCESTER
breeding education | charge expense
  9   His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge. I have
acknowledge him i.e., say that he is my son brazed brazened, hardened
 10   so often blushed to acknowledge him, that now I
 11   am brazed to't.

      KENT
conceive understand —In his reply, Gloucester will jokingly take the word "conceive" to mean "become pregnant."
 12   I cannot conceive you.

      GLOUCESTER
could i.e., could conceive, could become pregnant
 13   Sir, this young fellow's mother could: whereupon
 14   she grew round-wombed, and had, indeed, sir, a son
ere before
 15   for her cradle ere she had a husband for her bed.
fault sin, wrongdoing
 16   Do you smell a fault?

      KENT
issue outcome; offspring (i.e., Edmund)
 17   I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it
proper excellent, handsome
 18   being so proper.

      GLOUCESTER
a son by order of law legitimate son
 19   But I have, sir, a son by order of law, some year
no ... account of no more worth to me
knave young fellow, rascal | something saucily somewhat rudely
 20   elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account:
 21   though this knave came something saucily into the
 22   world before he was sent for, yet was his mother
fair beautiful
 23   fair; there was good sport at his making, and the
whoreson rogue; bastard
 24   whoreson must be acknowledged. Do you know
 25   this noble gentleman, Edmund?

      EDMUND
 26   No, my lord.

      GLOUCESTER
 27   My lord of Kent: remember him hereafter as my
 28   honourable friend.

      EDMUND
 29   My services to your lordship.

      KENT
sue earnestly seek
 30   I must love you, and sue to know you better.

      EDMUND
study deserving i.e., earnestly seek ways to deserve your esteem
 31   Sir, I shall study deserving.

      GLOUCESTER
out abroad
 32   He hath been out nine years, and away he shall
 33   again. The king is coming.

Sennet trumpet call signalling the arrival or departure of a procession of very important persons
           Sennet. Enter KING LEAR, CORNWALL,
           ALBANY, GONERIL, REGAN, CORDELIA,
           and Attendants.

      KING LEAR
 34   Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester.

      GLOUCESTER
 35   I shall, my lord.

           Exit [GLOUCESTER with EDMUND].

      KING LEAR
darker more secret
 36   Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.
 37   Give me the map there. Know that we have divided
fast firm
 38   In three our kingdom; and 'tis our fast intent
 39   To shake all cares and business from our age,
 40   Conferring them on younger strengths, while we
son i.e., son-in-law
 41   Unburthen'd crawl toward death. Our son of Cornwall,
 42   And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
constant will firm intention | publish announce | several dowers individual dowries
 43   We have this hour a constant will to publish
 44   Our daughters' several dowers, that future strife
 45   May be prevented now. The princes, France and Burgundy,
 46   Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
 47   Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
 48   And here are to be answer'd. Tell me, my daughters,—
 49   Since now we will divest us both of rule,
Interest possession
 50   Interest of territory, cares of state,—
 51   Which of you shall we say doth love us most?
 52   That we our largest bounty may extend
Where nature doth with merit challenge where (my bounty) is claimed by both natural affection and merit
 53   Where nature doth with merit challenge. Goneril,
 54   Our eldest-born, speak first.

      GONERIL
more than words can wield the matter more than words can express | space freedom of movement
 55   Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;
 56   Dearer than eye-sight, space, and liberty;
 57   Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;
 58   No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour;
e'er ever | father found father realized
 59   As much as child e'er loved, or father found;
makes ... unable makes voice feeble and speech inadequate
Beyond all manner of so much beyond all manner of comparison
 60   A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable;
 61   Beyond all manner of so much I love you.

      CORDELIA  [Aside.]
 62   What shall Cordelia do? Love, and be silent.

      LEAR
 63   Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
champains rich'd fertile plains
 64   With shadowy forests and with champains rich'd,
wide-skirted meads extensive meadows issue descendants
 65   With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads,
 66   We make thee lady: to thine and Albany's issue
 67   Be this perpetual. What says our second daughter,
 68   Our dearest Regan, wife to Cornwall? Speak.

      REGAN
self metal same mettle
prize me at her worth esteem myself her equal (in love for you) | she names my very deed of love she exactly describes my love
 69   I am made of that self metal as my sister,
 70   And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
 71   I find she names my very deed of love;
 72   Only she comes too short, that I profess
 73   Myself an enemy to all other joys,
 74   Which the most precious square of sense possesses,
felicitate made happy
 75   And find I am alone felicitate
 76   In your dear Highness' love.

      CORDELIA  [Aside.]
 76                                      Then poor Cordelia!
 77   And yet not so; since, I am sure, my love's
ponderous weighty, serious, sincere
 78   More ponderous than my tongue.

      KING LEAR
 79   To thee and thine hereditary ever
 80   Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom,
validity value | pleasure pleasurable qualities
 81   No less in space, validity, and pleasure,
 82   Than that conferr'd on Goneril. —Now, our joy,
 83   Although our last and least, to whose young love
vines vineyards | milk pasture lands for cows?
Strive to be interess'd compete to establish a claim (to Cordelia's love) | draw earn, win
 84   The vines of France and milk of Burgundy
 85   Strive to be interess'd; what can you say to draw
 86   A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak.

      CORDELIA
 87   Nothing, my lord.

      KING LEAR
 88   Nothing?

      CORDELIA
 89   Nothing.

      KING LEAR
 90   Nothing will come of nothing, speak again.

      CORDELIA
 91   Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
 92   My heart into my mouth, I love your majesty
bond duty
 93   According to my bond, nor more nor less.

      KING LEAR
 94   How, how, Cordelia? mend your speech a little,
 95   Lest it may mar your fortunes.

      CORDELIA
 95                                              Good my lord,
 96   You have begot me, bred me, loved me: I
Return those duties back as are right fit i.e., am properly dutiful in return
 97   Return those duties back as are right fit,
 98   Obey you, love you, and most honour you.
 99   Why have my sisters husbands, if they say
Haply by good fortune
100   They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,
plight marriage vow
101   That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry
102   Half my love with him, half my care and duty:
103   Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters,
104   To love my father all.

      KING LEAR
105   But goes thy heart with this?

      CORDELIA
105                                            Ay, good my lord.

      KING LEAR
106   So young, and so untender?

      CORDELIA
107   So young, my lord, and true.

      KING LEAR
108   Let it be so; thy truth, then, be thy dower!
109   For, by the sacred radiance of the sun,
110   The mysteries of Hecat, and the night;
operation influence | orbs star orbits
111   By all the operation of the orbs
From whom we do exist, and cease to be by the effect of which we live and die
112   From whom we do exist, and cease to be;
113   Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
propinquity kinship | property of blood blood relationship
114   Propinquity and property of blood,
115   And as a stranger to my heart and me
from this from this moment
116   Hold thee, from this, for ever. The barbarous Scythian,
makes his generation messes makes meals of his children and grandchildren
117   Or he that makes his generation messes
118   To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom
119   Be as well neighbour'd, pitied, and relieved,
120   As thou my sometime daughter.

      KENT
liege sovereign
120                                                       Good my liege,—

      KING LEAR
Peace shut up!
121   Peace, Kent!
122   Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
set my rest stake my all
kind nursery loving care | avoid leave
So . . . her! i.e., in order to rest peacefully in my grave I now withdraw all my love from her (Cordelia) so that I may give it to others!
123   I loved her most, and thought to set my rest
124   On her kind nursery. Hence, and avoid my sight!
125   So be my grave my peace, as here I give
126   Her father's heart from her!  Call France; who stirs?
127   Call Burgundy!  Cornwall and Albany,
this third Cordelia's third of the kingdom
plainness honesty, frankness
128   With my two daughters' dowers digest this third:
129   Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
130   I do invest you jointly with my power,
131   Pre-eminence, and all the large effects
132   That troop with majesty. Ourself, by monthly course,
133   With reservation of an hundred knights,
134   By you to be sustain'd, shall our abode
135   Make with you by due turns. Only we still retain
addition: honors and prerogatives
136   The name, and all th' addition to a king;
137   The sway, revenue, execution of the rest,
138   Beloved sons, be yours: which to confirm,
139   This coronet part betwixt you.

           [Giving a coronet.]

      KENT
139                                                    Royal Lear,
140   Whom I have ever honour'd as my king,
141   Loved as my father, as my master follow'd,
142   As my great patron thought on in my prayers,—

      KING LEAR
make from the shaft get out of the way of the arrow
143   The bow is bent and drawn, make from the shaft.

      KENT
Let it fall rather let it strike, no matter what
144   Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
145   The region of my heart: be Kent unmannerly,
146   When Lear is mad. What wilt thou do, old man?
147   Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak,
plainness honesty (as opposed to flattery)
148   When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour's bound,
Reserve thy state retain your royal status; i.e., act like a king ought to
149   When majesty stoops to folly. Reserve thy state;
150   And, in thy best consideration, check
answer my life my judgment i.e., I'll stake my life on my opinion.
151   This hideous rashness: answer my life my judgment,
152   Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least;
153   Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sound
reverbs echoes
154   Reverbs no hollowness.

      KING LEAR
154                                        Kent, on thy life, no more.

      KENT
My life I never held but as a pawn / To wage against thy enemies The only value I ever put on my life was as a stake in a wager against your enemies.
155   My life I never held but as a pawn
156   To wage against thy enemies; nor fear to lose it,
157   Thy safety being the motive.

      KING LEAR
157                                                 Out of my sight!

      KENT
158   See better, Lear; and let me still remain
blank white center of an archery target
159   The true blank of thine eye.

      KING LEAR
160   Now, by Apollo,—

      KENT
160                               Now, by Apollo, king,
161   Thou swear'st thy gods in vain.

      KING LEAR
miscreant villain, misbeliever
161                                                   O, vassal! miscreant!

           [Laying his hand on his sword.]

      ALBANY, CORNWALL
162   Dear sir, forbear.

      KENT
Do i.e., Go ahead and kill me.
163   Do:  Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
164   Upon thy foul disease. Revoke thy gift,
165   Or, whilst I can vent clamour from my throat,
166   I'll tell thee thou dost evil.

      KING LEAR
recreant traitor
166                                           Hear me, recreant!
167   On thine allegiance, hear me!
That since, because
168   That thou hast sought to make us break our vows,
169   Which we durst never yet, and with strain'd pride
sentence judgment, punishment (of Cordelia) our place my position as king
Our potency made good to prove my authority
170   To come between our sentence and our power,
171   Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,
172   Our potency made good, take thy reward.
173   Five days we do allot thee, for provision
disasters misfortunes
174   To shield thee from disasters of the world;
175   And on the sixth to turn thy hated back
176   Upon our kingdom: if, on the tenth day following,
trunk body
177   Thy banish'd trunk be found in our dominions,
178   The moment is thy death. Away! by Jupiter,
179   This shall not be revoked.

      KENT
sith since
180   Fare thee well, king: sith thus thou wilt appear,
181   Freedom lives hence, and banishment is here.

           [To CORDELIA.]

182   The gods to their dear shelter take thee, maid,
183   That justly think'st, and hast most rightly said!

           [To REGAN and GONERIL.]
And your . . . words of love i.e., may your deeds show that you really meant what you said in those grand speeches to King Lear, so that we may all see that good effects spring from loving words (Kent is being sarcastic.) He'll shape his old course i.e., he will continue to be the person he has always been

184   And your large speeches may your deeds approve,
185   That good effects may spring from words of love.
186   Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu;
187   He'll shape his old course in a country new.

           Exit

Flourish trumpet fanfare
           Flourish. Enter GLOUCESTER,
           with [KING of] FRANCE and
           BURGUNDY; Attendants.

      GLOUCESTER
188   Here's France and Burgundy, my noble lord.

      KING LEAR
189   My lord of Burgundy,
address address ourselves
190   We first address towards you, who with this king
191   Hath rivall'd for our daughter. What, in the least,
present immediate. —A dowry could include "present dower," to be given as a promise of future gifts upon the event of the marriage.
192   Will you require in present dower with her,
193   Or cease your quest of love?

      BURGUNDY
193                                                 Most royal majesty,
194   I crave no more than what your highness offer'd,
tender offer
195   Nor will you tender less.

      KING LEAR
195                                         Right noble Burgundy,
When she was dear to us, we did hold her so i.e., when I loved her dearly I considered her dear (of great worth). | little seeming substance small creature who only seems substantial | piec'd joined
like please
196   When she was dear to us, we did hold her so,
197   But now her price is fallen. Sir, there she stands:
198   If aught within that little seeming substance,
199   Or all of it, with our displeasure piec'd,
200   And nothing more, may fitly like your Grace,
201   She's there, and she is yours.

      BURGUNDY
201                                               I know no answer.

      KING LEAR
owes possesses
202   Will you, with those infirmities she owes,
203   Unfriended, new-adopted to our hate,
stranger'd with made a stranger by
204   Dower'd with our curse, and stranger'd with our oath,
205   Take her, or leave her?

      BURGUNDY
205                                     Pardon me, royal sir;
Election makes not up on such conditions it is impossible to choose on these terms
206   Election makes not up on such conditions.

      KING LEAR
207   Then leave her, sir; for, by the power that made me,
208   I tell you all her wealth.

           [To KING OF FRANCE.]

208                                          For you, great king,
I would not from your love make such a stray / To match you where I hate i.e., I would not want to alienate you by marrying you to one I hate.
209   I would not from your love make such a stray,
210   To match you where I hate; therefore beseech you
211   T'avert your liking a more worthier way
212   Than on a wretch whom nature is ashamed
213   Almost t'acknowledge hers.

      KING OF FRANCE
213                                                This is most strange,
best object object of your dearest affections
214   That she, that even but now was your best object,
argument theme
215   The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
in this trice of time in this instant
216   Most best, most dearest, should in this trice of time
dismantle strip off
217   Commit a thing so monstrous, to dismantle
folds of favor —The King of France imagines Cordelia wrapped in robes of royal favor | That monsters it that makes it monstrous | or your fore-vouch'd affection / Fall into taint or [makes] your previously avouched affection suddenly go rotten
Should never Shall not ever
218   So many folds of favour. Sure, her offence
219   Must be of such unnatural degree,
220   That monsters it, or your fore-vouch'd affection
221   Fall into taint: which to believe of her,
222   Must be a faith that reason without miracle
223   Should never plant in me.

      CORDELIA
223                                       I yet beseech your majesty,—
for I want because I lack
224   If for I want that glib and oily art,
speak and purpose not make speeches with no intention of living up to what I say do't before I speak do it rather than talk about it | dishonoured step dishonorable action
225   To speak and purpose not; since what I well intend,
226   I'll do't before I speak,—that you make known
227   It is no vicious blot, murder, or foulness,
228   No unchaste action, or dishonoured step,
229   That hath deprived me of your grace and favour;
want of that for which I am richer lack of that which makes me richer for not having | still-soliciting continually begging for favor and attention [like politicians]
230   But even for want of that for which I am richer,
231   A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue
232   As I am glad I have not, though not to have it
233   Hath lost me in your liking.

      KING LEAR
233                                               Better thou
234   Hadst not been born than not to have pleased me better.

      KING OF FRANCE
235   Is it but this,—a tardiness in nature
leaves the history unspoke / That it intends to do i.e., resolves on an action without telling the world about it
236   Which often leaves the history unspoke
237   That it intends to do? My lord of Burgundy,
238   What say you to the lady? Love's not love
regards that stand / Aloof from the entire point totally irrelevant considerations
239   When it is mingled with regards that stand
240   Aloof from the entire point. Will you have her?
241   She is herself a dowry.

      BURGUNDY
241                                      Royal Lear,
242   Give but that portion which yourself proposed,
243   And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
244   Duchess of Burgundy.

      KING LEAR
245   Nothing: I have sworn; I am firm.

      BURGUNDY [To Cordelia.]
246   I am sorry, then, you have so lost a father
247   That you must lose a husband.

      CORDELIA
247                                            Peace be with Burgundy!
respects of fortune financial considerations
248   Since that respects of fortune are his love,
249   I shall not be his wife.

      KING OF FRANCE
250   Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor;
251   Most choice, forsaken; and most loved, despised!
252   Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon,
253   Be it lawful I take up what's cast away.
254   Gods, gods! 'tis strange that from their cold'st neglect
inflamed respect impassioned regard
255   My love should kindle to inflamed respect.
thrown to my chance: i.e., mine by good luck
256   Thy dow'rless daughter, king, thrown to my chance,
257   Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France:
wat'rish watery, weak
258   Not all the dukes of wat'rish Burgundy
unpriz'd not valued (at her real worth by King Lear or the Duke of Burgundy)
259   Can buy this unpriz'd precious maid of me.
260   Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind:
Thou losest here, a better where to find you have lost this place, only to find a better place elsewhere
261   Thou losest here, a better where to find.

      KING LEAR
262   Thou hast her, France; let her be thine, for we
263   Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
264   That face of hers again.

           [To CORDELIA.]

264                                        Therefore be gone
grace favor | benison blessing
265   Without our grace, our love, our benison.—
266   Come, noble Burgundy.

Flourish trumpet fanfare
           Flourish. Exeunt [all but KING of
           FRANCE, GONERIL, REGAN,
           and CORDELIA].

      KING OF FRANCE
267   Bid farewell to your sisters.

      CORDELIA
wash'd eyes tear-washed eyes
268   The jewels of our father, with wash'd eyes
269   Cordelia leaves you: I know you what you are,
270   And like a sister am most loath to call
as they are named by their true names
271   Your faults as they are named. Love well our father:
professed bosoms i.e., hearts that have professed love for King Lear
272   To your professed bosoms I commit him,
273   But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,
prefer recommend
274   I would prefer him to a better place.
275   So, farewell to you both.

      REGAN
276   Prescribe not us our duties.

      GONERIL
276                                                Let your study
received you / At fortune's alms taken you as a small handout from Fortune
277   Be to content your lord, who hath received you
278   At fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted,
well are worth the want that you have wanted well deserve the same lack (of affection) that you have lacked (in your treatment of your father)
279   And well are worth the want that you have wanted.

      CORDELIA
280   Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides.
Who cover faults, at last shame them derides whoever conceals their faults will, in the course of time, be derided by the shamefulness of their faults
281   Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.
282   Well may you prosper!

      KING OF FRANCE
282                                    Come, my fair Cordelia.

           Exeunt [KING of] FRANCE
           and CORDELIA.

      GONERIL
283   Sister, it is not a little I have to say of what
284   most nearly appertains to us both. I think our
285   father will hence tonight.

      REGAN
286   That's most certain, and with you; next month
287   with us.

      GONERIL
288   You see how full of changes his age is; the
289   observation we have made of it hath not been
290   little: he always loved our sister most; and
291   with what poor judgment he hath now cast her
grossly obviously
292   off appears too grossly.

      REGAN
293   'Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he hath ever
294   but slenderly known himself.

      GONERIL
The best ... but rash i.e., even in the prime of his life he was no better than rash | long-engraffed deep-rooted
295   The best and soundest of his time hath been but
296   rash; then must we look to receive from his age,
297   not alone the imperfections of long-engraffed
therewithal along with that
298   condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness
choleric bad-tempered, irritable
299   that infirm and choleric years bring with them.

      REGAN
unconstant starts unpredictable and impetuous actions
300   Such unconstant starts are we like to have from
301   him as this of Kent's banishment.

      GONERIL
compliment i.e., ceremonious exchange of compliments | hit together i.e., agree on a course of action
302   There is further compliment of leave-taking
303   between France and him. Pray you, let us hit
304   together: if our father carry authority with
this last / surrender of his i.e., this recent surrender to his passions. | will but offend us will only harm us
305   such dispositions as he bears, this last
306   surrender of his will but offend us.

      REGAN
307   We shall further think of it.

      GONERIL
i' the heat while the iron is hot
308   We must do something, and i' the heat.

           Exeunt.