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 2



           Enter GONERIL and EDMUND.

      GONERIL
  1   Welcome, my lord: I marvel our mild husband
  2   Not met us on the way.

           Enter OSWALD.

  2                                        Now, where's your master?
2. your master: Goneril's husband, the Duke of Albany.


      OSWALD
  3   Madam, within; but never man so changed.
  4   I told him of the army that was landed;
  5   He smiled at it: I told him you were coming:
  6   His answer was 'The worse': of Gloucester's treachery,
  7   And of the loyal service of his son,
  8   When I inform'd him, then he call'd me sot,
8. sot: drunkard.

  9   And told me I had turn'd the wrong side out:
9. turn'd the wrong side out: reversed things. — It was really Gloucester who performed "loyal service" to Lear, and it was really Edmund who was treacherous to his father.

 10   What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him;
 11   What like, offensive.

      GONERIL [To EDMUND.]
                                        Then shall you go no further.
 12   It is the cowish terror of his spirit,
12. cowish: cowardly.

 13   That dares not undertake: he'll not feel wrongs
13. undertake: commit to any decisive action..

 14   Which tie him to an answer. Our wishes on the way
13-14. he'll . . . answer: He'll ignore wrongs to him which would require him to retaliate.

 15   May prove effects. Back, Edmund, to my brother;
14-15. Our . . . effects: Our wishes to be lovers, expressed on the journey here, may soon be realized. brother: brother-in-law [the Duke of Cornwall].

 16   Hasten his musters and conduct his powers:
 17   I must change names at home, and give the distaff
 18   Into my husband's hands. This trusty servant
16-18. musters: troop call-ups. powers: armies. I . . . hands:

 19   Shall pass between us: ere long you are like to hear,
19-21. ere . . . command: before long you are likely to hear, if you trust your own worth enough to ask, commands from me as the Duchess of Cornwall, and as your lover.

 20   If you dare venture in your own behalf,
 21   A mistress's command. Wear this;

           [Giving a favour.]
[Giving a favour.]: Giving a love-token, such as a glove.


 21                                                   spare speech;
21. spare speech: don't speak.

 22   Decline your head: this kiss, if it durst speak,
22. Decline your head: Bend down [for a kiss].

 23   Would stretch thy spirits up into the air:
 24   Conceive, and fare thee well.
24. Conceive: Understand [my meaning].


      EDMUND
 25   Yours in the ranks of death.
25. Yours in the ranks of death: i.e., I am yours unto death.

Goneril kissing Edmund
Philip Winchester as Edmund; Frances Barber as Goneril
2008 TV Movie

      GONERIL
                                                   My most dear Gloucester!

           Exit [EDMUND].

 26   O, the difference of man and man!
 27   To thee a woman's services are due:
 28   My fool usurps my body.
28. My fool usurps my body: i.e., My idiot husband presumes to possess me.


      OSWALD
Goneril and Albany
Frances Barber as Goneril; Julien Harries as Duke of Albany
2008 TV Movie

 28                                            Madam, here comes my lord.

           Exit [Oswald].
           Enter ALBANY.

      GONERIL
 29   I have been worth the whistle.
29. worth the whistle: i.e., worth your attention. — This alludes to the proverb, "It is a poor dog that is not worth the whistling."


      ALBANY
                                                       O Goneril!
 30   You are not worth the dust which the rude wind
 31   Blows in your face. I fear your disposition:
31. disposition: natural tendency or bent of the mind; nature.

 32   That nature, which contemns its origin,
32. contemns its origin: condemns what gave it life. — Albany is talking about Goneril's cruel treatment of her father.

 33   Cannot be bordered certain in itself;
33. bordered certain: kept safely within bounds.

 34   She that herself will sliver and disbranch
 35   From her material sap, perforce must wither
34-35.She . . . sap: i.e., she that will cut herself off from the stock from which she grew.

 36   And come to deadly use.
36. to deadly use: to destruction.


      GONERIL
 37   No more; the text is foolish.
37. No . . . foolish: i.e., Enough of your sermon; your starting-point (the idea that a parent must be revered) is foolish.


      ALBANY
 38   Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile:
 39   Filths savour but themselves. What have you done?
39. Filths savour but themselves: to the filthy everything seems filthy.

 40   Tigers, not daughters, what have you perform'd?
 41   A father, and a gracious aged man,
 42   Whose reverence even the head-lugg'd bear would lick,
42. head-lugg'd: dragged by the head. would lick: i.e., would show natural affection for.

 43   Most barbarous, most degenerate, have you madded.
43. have you madded: you have driven mad.

 44   Could my good brother suffer you to do it?
44. brother: brother-in-law; i.e., the Duke of Cornwall, Regan's cruel husband.

 45   A man, a prince, by him so benefited!
 46   If that the heavens do not their visible spirits
46 If that: If. visible spirits: i.e., spirits in visible form.

 47   Send quickly down to tame these vile offences,
 48   It will come,
 49   Humanity must perforce prey on itself,
49. must perforce: must necessarily.

 50   Like monsters of the deep.

      GONERIL
                                                 Milk-liver'd man!
50. Milk-liver'd: White-liver'd, cowardly.

 51   That bear'st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs;
 52   Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning
 53   Thine honour from thy suffering; that not know'st
52-53. discerning . . . suffering: i.e., able to tell the difference between honorable restraint and putting up with crap.

 54   Fools do those villains pity who are punish'd
 55   Ere they have done their mischief. Where's thy drum?
54-55. Fools . . . mischief: i.e., Only fools pity villains [like Lear] who are punished before they commit a crime.

 56   France spreads his banners in our noiseless land;
56. noiseless: peaceful, unprepared for war.

 57   With plumed helm thy state begins to threat,
 58   Whiles thou, a moral fool, sits still, and cries,
58. moral fool: moralizing fool.

 59   'Alack, why does he so?'

      ALBANY
                                              See thyself, devil!
 60   Proper deformity shows not in the fiend
 61   So horrid as in woman.
60-61. Proper . . . woman: i.e., You are uglier than a fiend, because a fiend is supposed to be deformed, but you are supposed to show womanly grace and kindness.


      GONERIL
                                             O vain fool!
61. vain: useless.


      ALBANY
 62   Thou changed and self-cover'd thing, for shame,
62. changed . . . cover'd: transformed and self-deceived.

 63   Be-monster not thy feature. Were't my fitness
63. Be-monster not thy feature: I think that Goneril is making a face at her husband. >>>

 64   To let these hands obey my blood,
64. my blood: i.e., my hot anger.

 65   They are apt enough to dislocate and tear
 66   Thy flesh and bones. Howe'er thou art a fiend,
 67   A woman's shape doth shield thee.
66-67. Howe'er . . . shield thee: however much of a fiend you are, your woman's shape protects you.


      GONERIL
 68   Marry, your manhood mew!
68. mew: mew up [keep under restraint]—or maybe Goneril is mewing at her husband because she considers him a pussy.


           Enter a Messenger.

      ALBANY
 69   What news?

      Messenger
 70   O, my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall's dead:
 71   Slain by his servant, going to put out
 72   The other eye of Gloucester.

      ALBANY
                                                            Gloucester's eyes?

      Messenger
 73   A servant that he bred, thrill'd with remorse,
73. thrill'd with remorse: pierced with pity.

 74   Oppos'd against the act, bending his sword
74. the act: i.e., the eye-gouging.

 75   To his great master; who, thereat enraged,
75. To : Against. who, thereat enraged: who, enraged by his servant's threat.

 76   Flew on him, and amongst them fell'd him dead;
 77   But not without that harmful stroke, which since
77. that harmful stroke: i.e., Cornwall's wounding.

 78   Hath pluck'd him after.
78. pluck'd him after: i.e., snatched him away to follow his servant into the realm of the dead.


      ALBANY
                                             This shows you are above,
 79   You justicers, that these our nether crimes
79. You justicers: You [heavenly] judges. nether crimes: i.e., crimes committed down here on earth.

 80   So speedily can avenge! But, O poor Gloucester,
 81   Lost he his other eye?

      Messenger
                                           Both, both, my lord.
 82   This letter, madam, craves a speedy answer;
 83   'Tis from your sister.

      GONERIL [Aside.]
 83                                        One way I like this well,
83. One way I like this well:This is puzzling.

 84   But being widow, and my Gloucester with her,
 85   May all the building in my fancy pluck
 86   Upon my hateful life. Another way,
84-86. But . . . life: i.e., but since my sister is now a widow and in Edmund's company, she may steal Edmund from me, which would make all my romantic dreams come crashing down, and so make my life hateful to me.

 87   The news is not so tart.—I'll read, and answer.

           Exit.

      ALBANY
 88   Where was his son when they did take his eyes?
88. his son: i.e., Gloucester's bastard son Edmund.


      Messenger
 89   Come with my lady hither.

      ALBANY
                                                  He is not here.

      Messenger
 90   No, my good lord; I met him back again.
90. back again: on his way back from here.


      ALBANY
 91   Knows he the wickedness?

      Messenger
 92   Ay, my good lord; 'twas he inform'd against him,
92. 'twas he inform'd against him: i.e., it was his son Edmund who divulged his father's allegiance to Lear.

 93   And quit the house on purpose that their punishment
93. quit: left.

 94   Might have the freer course.
94. freer course: i.e., a course of punishment unimpeded by the qualms a son might have.


      ALBANY
                                                  Gloucester, I live
Gloucester: the old Earl of Gloucester, whose eyes were plucked out.

 95   To thank thee for the love thou show'dst the King,
 96   And to revenge thine eyes. Come hither, friend,
 97   Tell me what more thou know'st.

           Exeunt.