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 4, Scene 1

           Enter EDGAR.

  1   Yet better thus, and known to be contemn'd,
1. contemn'd: condemned; despised.

  2   Than still contemn'd and flatter'd. To be worst,
2. still contemn'd and flatter'd: always despised [behind my back] and flattered [to my face].

  3   The lowest and most dejected thing of fortune,
  4   Stands still in esperance, lives not in fear:
4. Stands still in esperance: i.e., remains hopeful [because there is no fear of falling further].

  5   The lamentable change is from the best;
  6   The worst returns to laughter. Welcome, then,
5-6. The lamentable . . . laughter: i.e., the only lamentable change is change from the very best; on the other hand, experiencing the worst allows one to laugh at anything else that fortune brings their way.

  7   Thou unsubstantial air that I embrace!
  8   The wretch that thou hast blown unto the worst
  9   Owes nothing to thy blasts. But who comes here?
8-9. The wretch . . . blasts: The wretch who has already suffered the worst that nature can deal out cannot be called upon to pay anything more.

           Enter GLOUCESTER, [led by] an Old Man.

10. poorly led?: i.e., guided only a single old man. >>>
 10   My father, poorly led? World, world, O world!
 11   But that thy strange mutations make us hate thee,
 12   Life would not yield to age.
11-12. But . .  age: i.e., if strange changes of fortune did not make us hate this world, we would never let old age kill us.

      Old Man
                                                  O, my good lord,
 13   I have been your tenant, and your father's tenant,
 14   These fourscore years.
14. fourscore: 80.

 15   Away, get thee away; good friend, be gone:
 16   Thy comforts can do me no good at all;
16. comforts: assistance.

 17   Thee they may hurt.

      Old Man
                                       You cannot see your way.

 18   I have no way, and therefore want no eyes;
18. I have no way: i.e., I have nowhere to go, and no idea of where I am going. want: need.

 19   I stumbled when I saw: full oft 'tis seen,
 20   Our means secure us, and our mere defects
 21   Prove our commodities. O dear son Edgar,
20-21. Our . . . commodities: Our prosperity makes us overconfident, while sheer deprivation proves beneficial.

 22   The food of thy abused father's wrath!
22. The food . . . wrath: the object of anger on which your deceived father fed.

 23   Might I but live to see thee in my touch,
 24   I'ld say I had eyes again!
23. to see thee in my touch: to see you by touching you.

      Old Man
                                               How now! Who's there?

      EDGAR [Aside.]

 25   O gods! Who is't can say 'I am at the worst'?
 26   I am worse than e'er I was.

      Old Man
                                                 'Tis poor mad Tom.
Gloucester and Poor Tom
Gamut Theatre Group, 2006

      EDGAR [Aside.]
 27   And worse I may be yet: the worst is not
 28   So long as we can say 'This is the worst.'

      Old Man
 29   Fellow, where goest?

                                         Is it a beggar-man?

      Old Man
 30   Madman and beggar too.

 31   He has some reason, else he could not beg.
31. reason: sanity.

 32   I' the last night's storm I such a fellow saw;
 33   Which made me think a man a worm: my son
 34   Came then into my mind; and yet my mind
 35   Was then scarce friends with him: I have heard
           more since.
35. I have heard more since: i.e., since last night I have learned something that changed my mind.

 36   As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods.
36. wanton: playful; careless; thoughtless.

 37   They kill us for their sport.

      EDGAR [Aside.]
                                                  How should this be?
 38   Bad is the trade that must play fool to sorrow,
38. Bad . . . sorrow: It is bad business to have to play the fool in the face of sorrow.

 39   Ang'ring itself and others.—Bless thee, master!
39. Ang'ring: Distressing.

 40   Is that the naked fellow?

      Old Man
                                              Ay, my lord.

 41   Then prithee get thee gone: if, for my sake,
 42   Thou wilt o'ertake us, hence a mile or twain,
42. hence a mile or twain: a mile or two from here.

 43   I' the way toward Dover, do it for ancient love;
43. do it for ancient love: do it for the sake of our long and loyal relationship.

 44   And bring some covering for this naked soul,
 45   Who I'll entreat to lead me.
45. entreat: plead earnestly with.

      Old Man
                                               Alack, sir, he is mad.

 46   'Tis the times' plague, when madmen lead the blind.
46. 'Tis the times' plague: it is the disease of these times.

 47   Do as I bid thee, or rather do thy pleasure;
 48   Above the rest, be gone.
47-48. Do . . . be gone: Do what I asked you to do, or do whatever you want, but above all, leave this place.

      Old Man
 49   I'll bring him the best 'parel that I have,
49. 'parel: apparel.

 50   Come on't what will.
50. Come on't what will: no matter what the consequences.

Illustrator: H.C. Selous

 51   Sirrah, naked fellow,—

 52   Poor Tom's a-cold.

                                     I cannot daub it further.
52. daub: plaster; cover over. I cannot daub it further: i.e., I cannot continue the charade of being Poor Tom.

 53   Come hither, fellow.

      EDGAR [Aside.]
 54   And yet I must.—Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed.

 55   Know'st thou the way to Dover?

 56   Both stile and gate, horse-way and foot-path. Poor
 57   Tom hath been scared out of his good wits: bless
 58   thee, good man's son, from the foul fiend! Five
58. good man's: commoner's.

 59   fiends have been in poor Tom at once; of lust, as
 60   Obidicut; Hobbididence, prince of dumbness; Mahu,
 61   of stealing; Modo, of murder; Flibbertigibbet, of
60-61. Obidicut . . . Flibbertigibbet: devils. >>>

 62   mopping and mowing, who since possesses chamber-
62. mopping and mowing: making faces.

 63   maids and waiting-women. So, bless thee, master!

 64   Here, take this purse, thou whom the heavens' plagues
 65   Have humbled to all strokes: that I am wretched
65. all strokes: all blows [of Fortune].

 66   Makes thee the happier: heavens, deal so still!
65-66. that . . . happier: my wretchedness makes you more fortunate. still: always.

 67   Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man,
 68   That slaves your ordinance, that will not see
67-68. the superfluous . . . ordinance: the self-indulgent man who who makes your laws a slave to his own desires.

 69   Because he doth not feel, feel your power quickly;
 70   So distribution should undo excess,
70. distribution: even distribution of goods.

cliff at Dover
A cliff at Dover

 71   And each man have enough. Dost thou know Dover?

 72   Ay, master.

 73   There is a cliff, whose high and bending head
73. bending head: overhanging headlands.

 74   Looks fearfully in the confined deep:
74. confined deep: i.e., the sea held in on both sides, as it is at the straits of Dover.

 75   Bring me but to the very brim of it,
 76   And I'll repair the misery thou dost bear
76. repair: alleviate.

 77   With something rich about me: from that place
77. about me: on my person.

 78   I shall no leading need.

                                             Give me thy arm:
 79   Poor Tom shall lead thee.