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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 3, Scene 4



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

      KENT
  1   Here is the place, my lord; good my lord, enter:
1. the place: the hovel mentioned at 3.2.61.

  2   The tyranny of the open night's too rough
2. tyranny: i.e., the power of the storm.

  3   For nature to endure.
3. nature: human nature.


           Storm still.

      KING LEAR
                                                  Let me alone.
Fool, King Lear, Kent at the Hovel
Sylvester McCoy as Fool, Ian MacKellen as Lear,
Johnathan Hyde as Kent
(TV Movie 2008)

      KENT
  4   Good my lord, enter here.

      KING LEAR
                                                  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;
  8   But where the greater malady is fix'd,
8. fix'd: rooted.

  9   The lesser is scarce felt. Thou'ldst shun a bear;
 10   But if thy flight lay toward the raging sea,
 11   Thou'ldst meet the bear i' the mouth. When the mind's free,
11. free: unburdened; at ease.

 12   The body's delicate: the tempest in my mind
12. delicate: sensitive to pain.

 13   Doth from my senses take all feeling else
 14   Save what beats there. Filial ingratitude!
14. there: in my mind.

 15   Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand
15. as: as if.

 16   For lifting food to't? But I will punish home:
16. home: thoroughly; fully.

 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!
 20   Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all,—
20. frank: generous.

 21   O, that way madness lies; let me shun that;
 22   No more of that.

       KENT
                                Good my lord, enter here.

      KING LEAR
 23   Prithee, go in thyself: seek thine own ease:
 24   This tempest will not give me leave to ponder
24. give me leave to: allow me to.

 25   On things would hurt me more. But I'll go in.

           [To the Fool.]

 26   In, boy; go first. You houseless poverty,—
26. houseless poverty: i.e., homeless people.

 27   Nay, get thee in. I'll pray, and then I'll sleep.

           Exit [Fool].

 28   Poor naked wretches, whereso'er you are,
 29   That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
29. bide: abide; endure.

 30   How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
30. unfed sides: lean ribs.

 31   Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you
31. loop'd and window'd: full of holes and vents.

 32   From seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en
 33   Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;
33. Take physic, pomp: cure yourself, splendid luxury.

 34   Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
 35   That thou mayst shake the superflux to them,
35. superflux: superfluity; all that is more than needed to live.

 36   And show the heavens more just.

      EDGAR [Within.]
 37   Fathom and half, fathom and half! Poor
37. 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.

 38   Tom!

           [The] Fool [runs out from the hovel].
Poor Tom, Kent, Lear, Fool, by Sir John Gilbert
Illustrator: Sir John Gilbert


      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
 46   Away! the foul fiend follows me! Through the
46. Away!: Keep away! foul fiend: the devil.

 47   sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind. Humh!
47. Through the sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind: —Perhaps a ballad lyric.

 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;
 54   that hath laid knives under his pillow, and halters
54. halters: hangman's nooses.

 55   in his pew; set ratsbane by his porridge; made him
55. ratsbane: rat poison —The foul fiend is trying to lure Poor Tom into suicide.

 56   proud of heart, to ride on a bay trotting-horse over
 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,
56-58. to ride . . . traitor: i.e., to ride over impossibly narrow bridges chasing his own shadow which he thinks is a traitor.

 59   do de, do de. Bless thee from whirlwinds, star-blasting,
59. star-blasting: malign astrological influences.

 60   and taking! Do poor Tom some charity, whom the
60. taking: bewitchment.

 61   foul fiend vexes. There could I have him now,—and
 62   there,— and there again,— and there.
61-62. There could I have him now,—and there,—and there again, and there: —As "Poor Tom" (Edgar) speaks this sentence, he might be trying to kill vermin on his body as if they were devils.


           Storm still.

      KING LEAR
 63   What, have his daughters brought him to this pass?
63. pass: miserable plight.

 64   Couldst thou save nothing? Didst thou give them all?

      Fool
 65   Nay, he reserved a blanket, else we had been all
 66   sham'd.
65-66. he reserved a blanket, else we had been all sham'd: he kept a blanket, or else we would have all been embarrassed to see him naked.


      KING LEAR
 67   Now, all the plagues that in the pendulous air
67. pendulous: overhanging; portentous.

 68   Hang fated o'er men's faults light on thy daughters!
68. fated: having the power of fate.


      KENT
 69   He hath no daughters, sir.

      KING LEAR
 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?
72-73. Is . . . flesh?: i.e., Is it the fashion for discarded fathers to punish their own flesh as this Poor Tom is doing?

 74   Judicious punishment! 'twas this flesh begot
 75   Those pelican daughters.
75. pelican daughters: i.e., blood-sucking daughters. >>>


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


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

      EDGAR
 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.
80-83. obey . . . spouse: — These appear to be fragments from the Ten Commandments.  proud array: fine clothes.


      KING LEAR
 84   What hast thou been?

      EDGAR
 85   A serving-man, proud in heart and mind; that curled
 86   my hair; wore gloves in my cap; served the lust of
86. gloves: — Gloves were used as love tokens.

 87   my mistress' heart, and did the act of darkness with
87. did the act of darkness: had sex.

 88   her; swore as many oaths as I spake words, and
 89   broke them in the sweet face of heaven: one that
89. broke them in the sweet face of heaven: broke the oaths while heaven watched.

 90   slept in the contriving of lust, and waked to do it:
 91   wine loved I deeply, dice dearly: and in woman
 92   out-paramoured the Turk: false of heart, light of ear,
92. out-paramoured the Turk: had more mistresses than the Sultan. light of ear: rumor-hungry.

 93   bloody of hand; hog in sloth, fox in stealth, wolf in
 94   greediness, dog in madness, lion in prey. Let not the
94. prey: preying; hunting and killing.

 95   creaking of shoes nor the rustling of silks betray thy
 96   poor heart to woman: keep thy foot out of brothels,
 97   thy hand out of plackets, thy pen from lenders' books,
97. plackets: openings in petticoats. lenders' books: money lenders' account-books which borrowers must sign.

 98   and defy the foul fiend. Still through the hawthorn
 99   blows the cold wind: Says suum, mun, ha, no, nonny.
100   Dolphin my boy, my boy, sessa! let him trot by.
100. Dolphin: perhaps Dauphin, the heir to the French throne, sometimes identified with the devil by the English.


           Storm still.

      KING LEAR
101   Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer
101. answer: encounter.

102   with thy uncovered body this extremity of the skies.
102. extremity: extreme violence.

103   Is man no more than this? Consider him well. Thou
104   owest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep
105   no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha! here's three on 's
105. cat: civet. >>>  three on 's: three of us.

106   are sophisticated! Thou art the thing itself:
106. sophisticated: adulterated.

107   unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor bare,
107. unaccommodated: naked; without the trappings of civilization.

108   forked animal as thou art. Off, off, you lendings!
108. forked animal: two-legged animal. lendings: i.e., garments, borrowed from nature.

109   come unbutton here.

           [Tearing off his clothes.]

      Fool
110   Prithee, nuncle, be contented; 'tis a naughty
110. naughty: foul.

111   night to swim in. Now a little fire in a wild field
111. wild: barren; lustful.

112   were like an old lecher's heart; a small spark,
113   all the rest on's body cold. Look, here comes a
113. the rest on's: the rest of his.

114   walking fire.

           Enter GLOUCESTER, with a torch.

      EDGAR
115   This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet: he begins
115. Flibbertigibbet: name of a devil.

116   at curfew, and walks till the first cock; he gives
116. curfew . . . cock: from 9:00 p.m. until midnight. the web and the pin: cataract of the eye.

117   the web and the pin, squints the eye, and makes the
117. the web and the pin: cataract of the eye.

118   hare-lip; mildews the white wheat, and hurts the
118. white wheat: wheat approaching ripeness.

119   poor creature of earth.
120. Swithold: Saint Withold. footed: walked over. 'old: wold; upland plain.
120        Swithold footed thrice the 'old;
121        He met the night-mare, and her nine-fold;
121. the night-mare: demon thought to afflict people while they slept. her nine-fold: her familiars.

122             Bid her alight,
123             And her troth plight,
123. And her troth plight: And give her word.

124        And, aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!
124. aroint thee: begone.


      KENT
125   How fares your grace?

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


      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,
130   the tadpole, the wall-newt and the water; that in
130. the wall-newt and the water: the wall newt and the water newt. >>>

131   the fury of his heart, when the foul fiend rages,
132   eats cow-dung for sallets; swallows the old rat and
132. sallets: salads; greens.

133   the ditch-dog; drinks the green mantle of the
133. ditch-dog: dog found dead in a ditch. green mantle: scum.

134   standing pool; who is whipped from tithing to
135   tithing, and stock-punished, and imprisoned; who
134-135. tithing: parish. stock-punished: put in stocks.

136   hath had three suits to his back, six shirts to his body—
137        Horse to ride, and weapon to wear;
138        But mice and rats, and such small deer,
138. deer: animals.

139        Have been Tom's food for seven long year.
137-139. Horse . . . year: — These three lines imitate the rhythm and diction of a medieval romance.

140   Beware my follower. Peace, Smulkin; peace,
140. Beware . . . peace: — His "follower" is the fiend Smulkin, who he trying to get to shut up.

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.
144. Modo he's call'd, and Mahu: >>>


      GLOUCESTER
145   Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so vild,
145. vild: vile.

146   That it doth hate what gets it.
146. gets: begets.


      EDGAR
147   Poor Tom's a-cold.

      GLOUCESTER [To King Lear.]
148   Go in with me: my duty cannot suffer
148. my duty cannot suffer: my duty [to you, as king] does not permit me.

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
157   I'll talk a word with this same learned Theban.
157. learned Theban: Greek sage.

158   What is your study?
158. study: field of expertise.


      EDGAR
159   How to prevent the fiend, and to kill vermin.
159. to prevent the fiend: to figure out what the fiend is going to do next, in order to stop him.


      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
                                                Canst thou blame him?

           Storm still.

163   His daughters seek his death: ah, that good Kent!
163. that good Kent!: Gloucester does not know that he is talking to Kent, because Kent is in disguise.

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,
167   Now outlaw'd from my blood; he sought my life,
167. outlaw'd from my blood: disowned.

168   But lately, very late: I loved him, friend;
168. very late: very recently.

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
                                                  O, cry your mercy, sir.
171. cry your mercy: beg your pardon.

           [To "Poor Tom."]

172   Noble philosopher, your company.
172. your company: please accompany me.


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


      GLOUCESTER
178   Take him you on.
178. on: on ahead.


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

      KING LEAR
180   Come, good Athenian.
180. Athenian: i.e., Greek philosopher.


      GLOUCESTER
181   No words, no words: hush.

      EDGAR
182   Child Rowland to the dark tower came,
182. Child: an aspirant to knighthood.  Rowland: the famous hero of the Charlemagne legends.

183   His word was still, "Fie, foh, and fum,
183. His word was still: his motto was always.

184   I smell the blood of a British man."
183-184. "Fie . . . man": this appears to be a version of a repeated phrase from "Jack and the Beanstalk."


           Exeunt.