Philip Weller caricature
Philip and Weller hugging

Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.

King Lear : Act 1, Scene 1

           Enter KENT, GLOUCESTER, and EDMUND.

  1   I thought the king had more affected the Duke of
1. affected: favored.

  2   Albany than Cornwall.
2. Cornwall: i.e., the Duke of Cornwall.  >>>

  3   It did always seem so to us: but now, in the
  4   division of the kingdom, it appears not which of
  5   the dukes he values most; for equalities are so
5. equalities: equivalences.

  6   weighed, that curiosity in neither can make choice
6. weighed: balanced. curiosity: meticulous scrutiny.

  7   of either's moiety.
7. moiety: portion, allotment.  >>>

  8   Is not this your son, my lord?

  9   His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge. I have
9. breeding: education.  charge: expense.

 10   so often blushed to acknowledge him, that now I
10. acknowledge him: admit that he is my son.

 11   am brazed to't.
11. brazed: brazened, hardened.

 12   I cannot conceive you.
12. conceive: understand. —In his reply, Gloucester will jokingly use the word "conceive" in the sense of "become pregnant."

 13   Sir, this young fellow's mother could: whereupon
13. could: i.e., could conceive, could become pregnant.

 14   she grew round-wombed, and had, indeed, sir, a son
 15   for her cradle ere she had a husband for her bed.
15. ere: before.

 16   Do you smell a fault?
16. fault: sin; wrongdoing.

 17   I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it
 18   being so proper.
17-18. the issue of it being so proper: i.e., since the result was the birth of this excellent young man.

 19   But I have, sir, a son by order of law, some year
19. a son by order of law: legitimate son.

 20   elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account:
20. who . . . account: i.e., who is no more precious to me than Edmund.

 21   though this knave came something saucily into the
21. knave: young fellow, rascal. something saucily: somewhat cheekily.

 22   world before he was sent for, yet was his mother
 23   fair; there was good sport at his making, and the
23. fair: beautiful.

 24   whoreson must be acknowledged. Do you know
24. whoreson: rogue; bastard.

 25   this noble gentleman, Edmund?

Jim Carter as Earl of Kent, Jim Broadbent as Earl of Gloucester, and John Macmillan as Edmund.
TV Movie 2018.
 26   No, my lord.

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

 29   My services to your lordship.

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

 31   Sir, I shall study deserving.
31. study deserving: seek ways to deserve your esteem.

 32   He hath been out nine years, and away he shall
32. out: abroad.

 33   again. The king is coming.

           Sennet. Enter KING LEAR, CORNWALL,
Sennet: trumpet call signalling the arrival or departure of a procession of very important persons.

           and Attendants.

 34   Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester.

 35   I shall, my lord.

           Exit [GLOUCESTER with EDMUND].

 36   Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.
36. darker: as yet undisclosed.

 37   Give me the map there. Know that we have divided
37. Give me the map there: What does the map look like?

 38   In three our kingdom; and 'tis our fast intent
38. fast: firm.

 39   To shake all cares and business from our age,
 40   Conferring them on younger strengths, while we
 41   Unburthen'd crawl toward death. Our son of Cornwall,
41. son: i.e., son-in-law.

 42   And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
 43   We have this hour a constant will to publish
43. constant will: firm intention. publish: announce.

 44   Our daughters' several dowers, that future strife
44. several dowers: individual dowries.

 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,
 50   Interest of territory, cares of state,—
50. Interest: possession.

 51   Which of you shall we say doth love us most?
 52   That we our largest bounty may extend
 53   Where nature doth with merit challenge. Goneril,
53. Where nature doth with merit challenge: where [my bounty] is claimed by both natural affection and merit.

 54   Our eldest-born, speak first.

 55   Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;
55. more . . . matter: more than words can express.

 56   Dearer than eye-sight, space, and liberty;
56. space: freedom of movement.

 57   Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;
 58   No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour;
 59   As much as child e'er loved, or father found;
59. e'er: ever. father found: father received love.

 60   A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable;
60. makes breath poor, and speech unable: makes voice feeble and speech inadequate.

 61   Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
61. Beyond all manner of so much: beyond all manner of comparison.

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

 63   Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
 64   With shadowy forests and with champains rich'd,
64. with champains rich'd: enriched by fertile plains.

 65   With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads,
65. wide-skirted meads extensive meadows.

 66   We make thee lady: to thine and Albany's issue
66. issue: descendants.

 67   Be this perpetual. What says our second daughter,
 68   Our dearest Regan, wife to Cornwall? Speak.

 69   I am made of that self metal as my sister,
69. self metal: same stuff; same spirit.

 70   And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
70. prize me at her worth: esteem myself her equal [in love for you].

 71   I find she names my very deed of love;
71. she names my very deed of love: she describes exactly my 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,
74. square of sense: ???

 75   And find I am alone felicitate
75. felicitate: made happy.

 76   In your dear Highness' love.

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

 79   To thee and thine hereditary ever
 80   Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom,
 81   No less in space, validity, and pleasure,
81. validity: value. pleasure: pleasurable qualities.

 82   Than that conferr'd on Goneril. —Now, our joy,
 83   Although our last and least, to whose young love
83.  least: youngest? smallest?

 84   The vines of France and milk of Burgundy
84. vines: vineyards.  vines . . . Burgandy: i.e.,the riches of both France and Burgandy.

 85   Strive to be interess'd; what can you say to draw
85. Strive to be interess'd: compete to establish a claim [to Cordelia's love]. draw: earn, win.

 86   A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak.

 87   Nothing, my lord.
Olivia Vinall as Cordelia
Olivia Vinall as Cordelia

 88   Nothing?

 89   Nothing.

 90   Nothing will come of nothing, speak again.

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

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

                                                 Good my lord,
 96   You have begot me, bred me, loved me: I
 97   Return those duties back as are right fit,
97.  Return those duties back as are right fit: i.e., am properly dutiful in return.

 98   Obey you, love you, and most honour you.
 99   Why have my sisters husbands, if they say
100   They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,
100.  Haply: by good fortune.

101   That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry
101.  plight: marriage vow.

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.

105   But goes thy heart with this?
Romola Garai as Cordelia, Ian McKellen as Lear

Romola Garai as Cordelia, Ian McKellen as King Lear
2008 film.

                                              Ay, good my lord.

106   So young, and so untender?

107   So young, my lord, and true.

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;
110. Hecat: Goddess of Witchcraft.

111   By all the operation of the orbs
111. operation: influence. orbs: celestial spheres.

112   From whom we do exist, and cease to be;
112. From whom we do exist, and cease to be: by the effect of which we live and die.

113   Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
114   Propinquity and property of blood,
114. propinquity: kinship. property of blood: blood relationship.

115   And as a stranger to my heart and me
116   Hold thee, from this, for ever. The barbarous Scythian,
116. from this: from this moment.  barbarous: barbaric

117   Or he that makes his generation messes
117. makes his generation messes: makes meals of his children and grandchildren.

118   To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom
119   Be as well neighbour'd, pitied, and relieved,
120   As thou my sometime daughter.
120.  sometime: former.

                                                         Good my liege,—
120. liege: sovereign.

121   Peace, Kent!
121. Peace: shut up!

122   Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
123   I loved her most, and thought to set my rest
123.  set my rest: bet everything

124   On her kind nursery. Hence, and avoid my sight!
124. kind nursery: loving care. avoid: leave.

125   So be my grave my peace, as here I give
125-126. So be . . . from her!: i.e., in order to rest peacefully in my grave I now withdraw all my love from her!

126   Her father's heart from her!  Call France; who stirs?
127   Call Burgundy!  Cornwall and Albany,
128   With my two daughters' dowers digest this third:
128.  digest this third: i.e., share between you Cordelia's third of the kingdom.  >>>

129   Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
129. plainness: honesty, frankness.

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
136   The name, and all th' addition to a king;
136. addition: honors and prerogatives.

137   The sway, revenue, execution of the rest,
137. The sway . . . rest: sovereign authority, taxation, administration of everything except what pertains to me personally.  — Lear is giving all the hard work of being a king to his sons-in-law.

138   Beloved sons, be yours: which to confirm,
139   This coronet part betwixt you.

           [Giving a coronet.]
139. This coronet part betwixt you: divide this coronet (which was to be Cordelia's) between you.coronet

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,—

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

144   Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
144. Let it fall rather: let it strike, no matter what.  fork: arrowhead.

145   The region of my heart: be Kent unmannerly,
145-146. be Kent . . . mad: i.e., my bluntness is justified by your craziness.
146   When Lear is mad. What wilt thou do, old man?
147   Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak,
148   When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour's bound,
148. plainness: honesty [as opposed to flattery].

149   When majesty stoops to folly. Reserve thy state;
149. Reserve thy state: retain your royal status; i.e., act like a king ought to act. in thy best consideration: using your best judgment. check: restrain. answer my life my judgment: i.e., I'll stake my life on my opinion.

150   And, in thy best consideration, check
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
153-154. low sound / Reverbs no hollowness: whose soft voice echoes no hollowness.

154   Reverbs no hollowness.

154                                        Kent, on thy life, no more.

155   My life I never held but as a pawn
155-156. 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.

156   To wage against thy enemies; nor fear to lose it,
157   Thy safety being the motive.

157                                                 Out of my sight!

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

160   Now, by Apollo,—

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

161                                                   O, vassal! miscreant!
161. miscreant: villain, misbeliever.

           [Laying his hand on his sword.]

162   Dear sir, forbear.

163   Do:  Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
163. Do: i.e., Go ahead and kill me.

164   Upon thy foul disease. Revoke thy gift,
164. thy gift: i.e., your gift of Portia's portion of the kingdom to Albany and Cornwall.

165   Or, whilst I can vent clamour from my throat,
166   I'll tell thee thou dost evil.

                                             Hear me, recreant!
166. recreant: traitor.

167   On thine allegiance, hear me!
168   That thou hast sought to make us break our vows,
168.  That: because.  >>>

169   Which we durst never yet, and with strain'd pride
169. Which we durst never yet: which we never before have dared to do. strain'd: excessive, outrageous.

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
174   To shield thee from disasters of the world;
174.  disasters: misfortunes.

175   And on the sixth to turn thy hated back
176   Upon our kingdom: if, on the tenth day following,
177   Thy banish'd trunk be found in our dominions,
177. trunk: body.

178   The moment is thy death. Away! by Jupiter,
179   This shall not be revoked.

180   Fare thee well, king: sith thus thou wilt appear,
180.  sith: since.

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.]

184   And your large speeches may your deeds approve,
184-185.  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.)

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.
187. He'll shape his old course: i.e., he will continue to be the person he has always been.


           Flourish. Enter GLOUCESTER,
  Flourish: trumpet fanfare.

           with [KING of] FRANCE and
           BURGUNDY; Attendants.

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

189   My lord of Burgundy,
190   We first address towards you, who with this king
190.  address: address ourselves.

191   Hath rivall'd for our daughter. What, in the least,
192   Will you require in present dower with her,
192. present: immediate. — A dowry could include "present dower," to be given as a promise of future gifts upon the event of the marriage.

193   Or cease your quest of love?

193                                                 Most royal majesty,
194   I crave no more than what your highness offer'd,
195   Nor will you tender less.
195.  tender: offer. — Lear appears to be trying to back out of a previous offer, and Burgundy is reminding him that that is not a kingly thing to do.

195                                         Right noble Burgundy,
196   When she was dear to us, we did hold her so,
196. 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].

197   But now her price is fallen. Sir, there she stands:
198   If aught within that little seeming substance,
198. little seeming substance: small creature who only seems substantial.

199   Or all of it, with our displeasure piec'd,
199.  piec'd: joined.

200   And nothing more, may fitly like your Grace,
200.  like: please.

201   She's there, and she is yours.

                                                 I know no answer.

202   Will you, with those infirmities she owes,
202. owes: possesses.

203   Unfriended, new-adopted to our hate,
204   Dower'd with our curse, and stranger'd with our oath,
204. stranger'd with: made a stranger by.

205   Take her, or leave her?

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

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

           [To KING OF FRANCE.]

                                            For you, great king,
209   I would not from your love make such a stray,
210   To match you where I hate; therefore beseech you
210.  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.

210   T'avert your liking a more worthier way
212   Than on a wretch whom nature is ashamed
213   Almost t'acknowledge hers.

213                                                This is most strange,
214   That she, that even but now was your best object,
214. best object: object of your dearest affections.

215   The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
215. argument: theme.

216   Most best, most dearest, should in this trice of time
216.  in this trice of time: in this instant.

217   Commit a thing so monstrous, to dismantle
217.  dismantle: strip off.

218   So many folds of favour. Sure, her offence
218.  folds of favour: —The King of France imagines Cordelia wrapped in robes of royal favor.

219   Must be of such unnatural degree,
220   That monsters it, or your fore-vouch'd affection
220. 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.

221   Fall into taint: which to believe of her,
222   Must be a faith that reason without miracle
223   Should never plant in me.
223. Should never: Shall not ever.

                                          I yet beseech your majesty,—
224   If for I want that glib and oily art,
224.  for I want: because I lack.

225   To speak and purpose not; since what I well intend,
225. speak and purpose not: make speeches with no intention of living up to what I say.

226   I'll do't before I speak,—that you make known
226. do't before I speak: do it rather than talk about it.

227   It is no vicious blot, murder, or foulness,
228   No unchaste action, or dishonoured step,
228.  dishonoured step: dishonorable action.

229   That hath deprived me of your grace and favour;
230   But even for want of that for which I am richer,
230. want of that for which I am richer: lack of that which makes me richer for not having.

231   A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue
231. still-soliciting: continually begging for favor and attention [like politicians].

232   As I am glad I have not, though not to have it
233   Hath lost me in your liking.

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

235   Is it but this,—a tardiness in nature
236   Which often leaves the history unspoke
237   That it intends to do? My lord of Burgundy,
236-237.  leaves the history unspoke / That it intends to do: i.e., resolves on an action without telling the world about it.

238   What say you to the lady? Love's not love
239   When it is mingled with regards that stand
240   Aloof from the entire point. Will you have her?
240.  regards that stand / Aloof from the entire point: totally irrelevant considerations.

241   She is herself a dowry.

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

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.

247                                            Peace be with Burgundy!
248   Since that respects of fortune are his love,
248.  respects of fortune: financial considerations.

249   I shall not be his wife.

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
255   My love should kindle to inflamed respect.
255.  inflamed respect: impassioned admiration.

256   Thy dow'rless daughter, king, thrown to my chance,
256. thrown to my chance: i.e., mine by good luck.

257   Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France:
258   Not all the dukes of wat'rish Burgundy
258. wat'rish: watery, weak.

259   Can buy this unpriz'd precious maid of me.
259.  unpriz'd: not valued [at her real worth by King Lear or the Duke of Burgundy].

260   Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind:
261   Thou losest here, a better where to find.
261.  Thou losest here, a better where to find: you have lost this place, only to find a better place elsewhere.

262   Thou hast her, France; let her be thine, for we

Cordelia's Portion by Ford Maddox Brown

263   Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
264   That face of hers again.

           [To CORDELIA.]

264                                        Therefore be gone
265   Without our grace, our love, our benison.—
265.  grace: favor. benison: blessing.

266   Come, noble Burgundy.

           Flourish. Exeunt [all but KING of
100.  Flourish: trumpet fanfare.

           and CORDELIA].

267   Bid farewell to your sisters.

268   The jewels of our father, with wash'd eyes
268. wash'd eyes tear-washed eyes. — I believe her tears are for the loss of her relationship with her father.

269   Cordelia leaves you: I know you what you are,
270   And like a sister am most loath to call
271   Your faults as they are named. Love well our father:
271.  as they are named: by their true names.

272   To your professed bosoms I commit him,
272.  professed bosoms: i.e., hearts that have professed love for King Lear.

273   But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,
274   I would prefer him to a better place.
274.  prefer: recommend.

275   So, farewell to you both.
The Three Daughters of King Lear by Gustav Pope
The Three Daughters of King Lear by Gustav Pope

276   Prescribe not us our duties.

                                                   Let your study
277   Be to content your lord, who hath received you
278   At fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted,
277-278. received . . . alms: taken you as a small handout from Fortune.

279   And well are worth the want that you have wanted.
279. well . . . wanted: well deserve the same lack [of affection] that you have lacked [in your treatment of your father].

280   Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides.
280. Time . . . hides: time will reveal what hides under layers of hypocrisy. >>>

281   Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.
281.  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.

Cordelia's farewell by Edwin Abbey

282   Well may you prosper!

282                                    Come, my fair Cordelia.

           Exeunt [KING of] FRANCE
           and CORDELIA.

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.

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

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
292   off appears too grossly.
292.  grossly: obviously.

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

295   The best and soundest of his time hath been but
296   rash; then must we look to receive from his age,
295-296. The best . . . but rash: i.e., even in the prime of his life he was no better than rash.

297   not alone the imperfections of long-engraffed
297. long-engraffed: deep-rooted.

298   condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness
298.  therewithal: along with that.

299   that infirm and choleric years bring with them.
299.  choleric: bad-tempered, irritable.

300   Such unconstant starts are we like to have from
300.  unconstant starts: unpredictable and impetuous actions.

301   him as this of Kent's banishment.

302   There is further compliment of leave-taking
302.  compliment: i.e., ceremonious exchange of compliments.

303   between France and him. Pray you, let us hit
304   together: if our father carry authority with
303-304. hit together: i.e., agree on a course of action.

305   such dispositions as he bears, this last
306   surrender of his will but offend us.
305-306.  this last surrender of his: i.e., this recent surrender to his passions.

306. will but offend us: will only harm us.
307   We shall further think of it.

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