King Lear : Act 3, Scene 4



           Enter LEAR, KENT [disguised as Caius],
           and Fool.

      KENT
the place the hovel mentioned at 3.2.61.
  1   Here is the place, my lord; good my lord, enter:
tyranny i.e., the power of the storm
  2   The tyranny of the open night's too rough
nature human nature
  3   For nature to endure.

           Storm still.

      KING LEAR
  3                                               Let me alone.

      KENT
  4   Good my lord, enter here.

      KING LEAR
  4                                               Wilt break my heart?

      KENT
  5   I had rather break mine own. Good my lord, enter.

      KING LEAR
  6   Thou think'st 'tis much that this contentious storm
  7   Invades us to the skin: so 'tis to thee;
fix'd rooted
  8   But where the greater malady is fix'd,
  9   The lesser is scarce felt. Thou'ldst shun a bear;
 10   But if thy flight lay toward the raging sea,
free unburdened; at ease
 11   Thou'ldst meet the bear i' the mouth. When the mind's free,
delicate sensitive
 12   The body's delicate: the tempest in my mind
 13   Doth from my senses take all feeling else
Save Except | there i.e., in my mind
 14   Save what beats there. Filial ingratitude!
as as if
 15   Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand
home thoroughly; fully
 16   For lifting food to't? But I will punish home:
 17   No, I will weep no more. In such a night
 18   To shut me out! Pour on; I will endure.
 19   In such a night as this! O Regan, Goneril!
frank generous
 20   Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all,—
 21   O, that way madness lies; let me shun that;
 22   No more of that.

       KENT
 22                             Good my lord, enter here.

      KING LEAR
 23   Prithee, go in thyself: seek thine own ease:
give me leave to allow me to
 24   This tempest will not give me leave to ponder
 25   On things would hurt me more. But I'll go in.

           [To the Fool.]

houseless poverty i.e., homeless people
 26   In, boy; go first. You houseless poverty,—
 27   Nay, get thee in. I'll pray, and then I'll sleep.

           Exit [Fool].

 28   Poor naked wretches, whereso'er you are,
bide endure; dwell in
 29   That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
unfed sides lean ribs
 30   How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
loop'd and window'd full of holes and vents
 31   Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you
 32   From seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en
Take physic, pomp cure yourself, splendid luxury
 33   Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;
 34   Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
superflux superfluity; all that is more than needed to live
 35   That thou mayst shake the superflux to them,
 36   And show the heavens more just.

      EDGAR [Within.]
Fathom and half i.e., nine feet —This a sailor's cry when taking depth soundings. Most ships of Shakespeare's time would run aground in water less than nine feet deep.
 37   Fathom and half, fathom and half! Poor
 38   Tom!

           [The] Fool [runs out from the hovel].

      Fool
 39   Come not in here, nuncle, here's a spirit
 40   Help me, help me!

      KENT
 41   Give me thy hand. Who's there?

      Fool
 42   A spirit, a spirit: he says his name's poor
 43   Tom.

      KENT
 44   What art thou that dost grumble
 45    there i' the straw? Come forth.

           Enter EDGAR [disguised as a mad man].

      EDGAR
Away! Keep away! | foul fiend arch-enemy of mankind; the devil | Through the sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind —Perhaps this is a quotation from a ballad.
 46   Away! the foul fiend follows me! Through the
 47   sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind. Humh!
 48   go to thy cold bed, and warm thee.

      KING LEAR
 49   Hast thou given all to thy two daughters? And art
 50   thou come to this?

      EDGAR
 51   Who gives any thing to poor Tom? whom the foul
 52   fiend hath led through fire and through flame,
 53   through ford and whirlpool o'er bog and quagmire;
halters hangman's nooses
ratsbane rat poison —The foul fiend is trying to lure Poor Tom into suicide.
 54   that hath laid knives under his pillow, and halters
 55   in his pew; set ratsbane by his porridge; made him
 56   proud of heart, to ride on a bay trotting-horse over
four-inch'd i.e., impossibly narrow | course hunt | for as
 57   four-inch'd bridges, to course his own shadow for
 58   a traitor. Bless thy five wits! Tom's a-cold,—O, do de,
star-blasting malign astrological influences
taking bewitchment. | There could I have him now,—and there,—and there again, and there —As Edgar speaks this sentence, he might be trying to kill vermin on his body as if they were devils.
 59   do de, do de. Bless thee from whirlwinds, star-blasting,
 60   and taking! Do poor Tom some charity, whom the
 61   foul fiend vexes. There could I have him now,—and
 62   there,— and there again,— and there.

           Storm still.

      KING LEAR
pass miserable plight
 63   What, have his daughters brought him to this pass?
 64   Couldst thou save nothing? Didst thou give them all?

      Fool
he reserved a blanket, else we had been all sham'd he kept a blanket, or else we would have all been shamed (by seeing him naked)
 65   Nay, he reserved a blanket, else we had been all
 66   sham'd.

      KING LEAR
pendulous overhanging; portentous
 67   Now, all the plagues that in the pendulous air
fated having the power of fate
 68   Hang fated o'er men's faults light on thy daughters!

      KENT
 69   He hath no daughters, sir.

      KING LEAR
pelican daughters i.e., blood-sucking daughters . . . more . . .


Pillicock sat on Pillicock-hill: Halloo, halloo, loo, loo! A fragment of an old rhyme, followed by hunting cries or a ballad refrain; "Pillicock" was both a term of endearment and a euphemism for penis.
 70   Death, traitor! nothing could have subdued nature
 71   To such a lowness but his unkind daughters.
 72   Is it the fashion, that discarded fathers
 73   Should have thus little mercy on their flesh?
 74   Judicious punishment! 'twas this flesh begot
 75   Those pelican daughters.

      EDGAR
 76   Pillicock sat on Pillicock-hill: alow, alow,
 77   loo, loo!

      Fool
 78   This cold night will turn us all to fools and
 79   madmen.

      EDGAR
obey...array —These are fragments from the Ten Commandments.
 80   Take heed o' the foul fiend: obey thy parents;
 81   keep thy word justly; swear not; commit not with
 82   man's sworn spouse; set not thy sweet heart on proud
 83   array. Tom's a-cold.

      KING LEAR
 84   What hast thou been?

      EDGAR
 85   A serving-man, proud in heart and mind; that curled
gloves favors from his mistress
 86   my hair; wore gloves in my cap; served the lust of
did the act of darkness had sex
 87   my mistress' heart, and did the act of darkness with
 88   her; swore as many oaths as I spake words, and
broke them in the sweet face of heaven broke the oaths while heaven watched
 89   broke them in the sweet face of heaven: one that
 90   slept in the contriving of lust, and waked to do it:
 91   wine loved I deeply, dice dearly: and in woman
out-paramoured the Turk had more mistresses than the Sultan | light of ear rumor-hungry (perhaps for criminal purposes)
prey preying
 92   out-paramoured the Turk: false of heart, light of ear,
 93   bloody of hand; hog in sloth, fox in stealth, wolf in
 94   greediness, dog in madness, lion in prey. Let not the
 95   creaking of shoes nor the rustling of silks betray thy
 96   poor heart to woman: keep thy foot out of brothels,
plackets openings in petticoats | lenders' books money lenders' account-books which borrowers must sign
 97   thy hand out of plackets, thy pen from lenders' books,
 98   and defy the foul fiend. Still through the hawthorn
 99   blows the cold wind: Says suum, mun, ha, no, nonny.
Dolphin perhaps Dauphin, the heir to the French throne, sometimes identified with the devil by the English
100   Dolphin my boy, my boy, sessa! let him trot by.

           Storm still.

      KING LEAR
answer encounter
101   Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer
extremity extreme violence
102   with thy uncovered body this extremity of the skies.
103   Is man no more than this? Consider him well. Thou
104   owest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep
cat Civet cat | three on 's three of us
sophisticated adulterated
unaccommodated man naked: without the trappings of civilization
forked animal two-legged animal
lendings i.e., garments, borrowed from nature

105   no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha! here's three on
106   's are sophisticated! Thou art the thing itself:
107   unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor bare,
108   forked animal as thou art. Off, off, you lendings!
109   come unbutton here.

           [Tearing off his clothes.]

      Fool
naughty foul
wild barren; lustful
110   Prithee, nuncle, be contented; 'tis a naughty
111   night to swim in. Now a little fire in a wild field
112   were like an old lecher's heart; a small spark,
the rest on's the rest of his
113   all the rest on's body cold. Look, here comes a
114   walking fire.

           Enter GLOUCESTER, with a torch.

      EDGAR
Flibbertigibbet The name of a devil or fiend.
at curfew ... till the first cock from 9:00 p.m. till midnight
the web and the pin cataract of the eye
white wheat wheat approaching ripeness
115   This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet: he begins
116   at curfew, and walks till the first cock; he gives
117   the web and the pin, squints the eye, and makes the
118   hare-lip; mildews the white wheat, and hurts the
119   poor creature of earth.
Swithold a saint | footed walked over | 'old wold; upland plain
the night-mare demon thought to afflict people while they slept | nine-fold nine offspring?
her troth plight give her promise to do no harm?
aroint thee begone
120        Swithold footed thrice the 'old;
121        He met the night-mare, and her nine-fold;
122             Bid her alight,
123             And her troth plight,
124        And, aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!

      KENT
125   How fares your grace?

      KING LEAR
What's Who's
126   What's he?

      KENT
127   Who's there? What is't you seek?

      GLOUCESTER
128   What are you there? Your names?

      EDGAR
129   Poor Tom; that eats the swimming frog, the toad,
water water newt
130   the tadpole, the wall-newt and the water; that in
131   the fury of his heart, when the foul fiend rages,
sallets salads; savories
132   eats cow-dung for sallets; swallows the old rat and
ditch-dog dog found dead in a ditch | green mantle scum
tithing parish
stock-punished put in stocks
133   the ditch-dog; drinks the green mantle of the
134   standing pool; who is whipped from tithing to
135   tithing, and stock-punished, and imprisoned; who
136   hath had three suits to his back, six shirts to his body—
Bevis
137        Horse to ride, and weapon to wear;
138        But mice and rats, and such small deer,
139        Have been Tom's food for seven long year.
140   Beware my follower. Peace, Smulkin; peace,
141   thou fiend!

      GLOUCESTER
142   What, hath your grace no better company?

      EDGAR
143   The prince of darkness is a gentleman:
144   Modo he's call'd, and Mahu.

      GLOUCESTER
vild vile
gets begets
145   Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so vild,
146   That it doth hate what gets it.

      EDGAR
147   Poor Tom's a-cold.

      GLOUCESTER
my duty cannot suffer my duty (to you, as king) does not permit me
148   Go in with me: my duty cannot suffer
149   To obey in all your daughters' hard commands:
150   Though their injunction be to bar my doors,
151   And let this tyrannous night take hold upon you,
152   Yet have I ventured to come seek you out,
153   And bring you where both fire and food is ready.

      KING LEAR
154   First let me talk with this philosopher.
155   What is the cause of thunder?

      KENT
156   Good my lord, take his offer; go into the house.

      KING LEAR
learned Theban Greek sage
157   I'll talk a word with this same learned Theban.
study field of expertise
158   What is your study?

      EDGAR
159   How to prevent the fiend, and to kill vermin.

      KING LEAR
160   Let me ask you one word in private.

      KENT
161   Importune him once more to go, my lord;
162   His wits begin to unsettle.

      GLOUCESTER
162                                             Canst thou blame him?

           Storm still.

163   His daughters seek his death: ah, that good Kent!
164   He said it would be thus, poor banish'd man!
165   Thou say'st the king grows mad; I'll tell thee, friend,
166   I am almost mad myself: I had a son,
outlaw'd from my blood disowned
167   Now outlaw'd from my blood; he sought my life,
very late recently
168   But lately, very late: I loved him, friend;
169   No father his son dearer: truth to tell thee,
170   The grief hath crazed my wits. What a night's this!
171   I do beseech your grace,—

      KING LEAR
cry your mercy beg your pardon
171                                               O, cry your mercy, sir.
172   Noble philosopher, your company.

      EDGAR
173   Tom's a-cold.

      GLOUCESTER
174   In, fellow, there, into the hovel: keep thee warm.

      KING LEAR
175   Come, let's in all.

      KENT
175                                 This way, my lord.

      KING LEAR
175                                                                 With him;
176   I will keep still with my philosopher.

      KENT
soothe him humor him
177   Good my lord, soothe him; let him take the fellow.

      GLOUCESTER
on on ahead
178   Take him you on.

      KENT
179   Sirrah, come on; go along with us.

      KING LEAR
Athenian Greek philosopher
180   Come, good Athenian.

Charlemagneword was still motto was always
      GLOUCESTER
181   No words, no words: hush.

      EDGAR
182    Child Rowland to the dark tower came,
183   His word was still, "Fie, foh, and fum,
184   I smell the blood of a British man."

           Exeunt.