King Lear - Act 1, scene 1
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Navigate this workKing Lear - Act 1, scene 1
Act 1, scene 1
King Lear, intending to divide his power and kingdom among his three daughters, demands public professions of their love. His youngest daughter, Cordelia, refuses. Lear strips her of her dowry, divides the kingdom between his two other daughters, and then banishes the earl of Kent, who has protested against Lear’s rash actions. The king of France, one of Cordelia’s suitors, chooses to marry her despite her father’s casting her away. Lear tells his daughters Goneril and Regan that they and their husbands should divide his powers and revenues; he himself will keep a hundred knights and will live with Goneril and Regan by turns.Enter Kent, Gloucester, and Edmund.
KENT 0001 I thought the King had more affected the Duke
0002 of Albany than Cornwall.
GLOUCESTER 0003 It did always seem so to us, but now in
0004 the division of the kingdom, it appears not which
0005 5 of the dukes he values most, for ⟨equalities⟩ are so
0006 weighed that curiosity in neither can make choice
0007 of either’s moiety.
KENT 0008 Is not this your son, my lord?
GLOUCESTER 0009 His breeding, sir, hath been at my
0010 10 charge. I have so often blushed to acknowledge
0011 him that now I am brazed to ’t.
KENT 0012 I cannot conceive you.
GLOUCESTER 0013 Sir, this young fellow’s mother could,
0014 whereupon she grew round-wombed and had indeed,
0015 15 sir, a son for her cradle ere she had a husband
0016 for her bed. Do you smell a fault?
KENT 0017 I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it
0018 being so proper.
GLOUCESTER 0019 But I have a son, sir, by order of law,
0020 20 some year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in
0021 my account. Though this knave came something
0022 saucily to the world before he was sent for, yet was
0023 his mother fair, there was good sport at his making,
0025 25 know this noble gentleman, Edmund?
EDMUND 0026 No, my lord.
GLOUCESTER 0027 My lord of Kent. Remember him hereafter
0028 as my honorable friend.
EDMUND 0029 My services to your Lordship.
KENT 0030 30I must love you and sue to know you better.
EDMUND 0031 Sir, I shall study deserving.
GLOUCESTER 0032 He hath been out nine years, and away he
0033 shall again. (Sennet.) The King is coming.
Enter King Lear, Cornwall, Albany, Goneril, Regan,
Cordelia, and Attendants.
0034 Attend the lords of France and Burgundy,
0035 35 Gloucester.
GLOUCESTER 0036 I shall, my lord.He exits.
0037 Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.—
0038 Give me the map there.⌜He is handed a map.⌝
0039 Know that we have divided
0040 40 In three our kingdom, and ’tis our fast intent
0041 To shake all cares and business from our age,
0042 Conferring them on younger strengths, [while we
0043 Unburdened crawl toward death. Our son of
0045 45 And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
0046 We have this hour a constant will to publish
0047 Our daughters’ several dowers, that future strife
0048 May be prevented now.]
0049 The ⟨two great⟩ princes, France and Burgundy,
0050 50 Great rivals in our youngest daughter’s love,
0051 Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn
0052 And here are to be answered. Tell me, my
0054 [Since now we will divest us both of rule,
0056 Which of you shall we say doth love us most,
0057 That we our largest bounty may extend
0058 Where nature doth with merit challenge. Goneril,
0059 Our eldest born, speak first.
0060 60 Sir, I love you more than word can wield the
0062 Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty,
0063 Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare,
0064 No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor;
0065 65 As much as child e’er loved, or father found;
0066 A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable.
0067 Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
0068 What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent.
LEAR, ⌜pointing to the map⌝
0069 Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
0070 70 With shadowy forests [and with champains riched,
0071 With plenteous rivers] and wide-skirted meads,
0072 We make thee lady. To thine and Albany’s ⟨issue⟩
0073 Be this perpetual.—What says our second
0075 75 Our dearest Regan, wife of Cornwall? ⟨Speak.⟩
0076 I am made of that self mettle as my sister
0077 And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
0078 I find she names my very deed of love;
0079 Only she comes too short, that I profess
0080 80 Myself an enemy to all other joys
0081 Which the most precious square of sense
0083 And find I am alone felicitate
0084 In your dear Highness’ love.
CORDELIA, ⌜aside⌝ 0085 85 Then poor Cordelia!
0086 And yet not so, since I am sure my love’s
0087 More ponderous than my tongue.
0088 To thee and thine hereditary ever
0089 Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom,
0090 90 No less in space, validity, and pleasure
0091 Than that conferred on Goneril.—Now, our joy,
0092 Although our last and least, to whose young love
0093 [The vines of France and milk of Burgundy
0094 Strive to be interessed,] what can you say to draw
0095 95 A third more opulent than your sisters’? Speak.
CORDELIA 0096 Nothing, my lord.
[LEAR 0097 Nothing?
CORDELIA 0098 Nothing.]
0099 Nothing will come of nothing. Speak again.
0100 100 Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
0101 My heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty
0102 According to my bond, no more nor less.
0103 How, how, Cordelia? Mend your speech a little,
0104 Lest you may mar your fortunes.
CORDELIA 0105 105 Good my lord,
0106 You have begot me, bred me, loved me.
0107 I return those duties back as are right fit:
0108 Obey you, love you, and most honor you.
0109 Why have my sisters husbands if they say
0110 110 They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,
0111 That lord whose hand must take my plight shall
0113 Half my love with him, half my care and duty.
0114 Sure I shall never marry like my sisters,
0115 115 ⟨To love my father all.⟩
LEAR 0116 But goes thy heart with this?
CORDELIA 0117 Ay, my good lord.
LEAR 0118 So young and so untender?
CORDELIA 0119 So young, my lord, and true.
0120 120 Let it be so. Thy truth, then, be thy dower,
0121 For by the sacred radiance of the sun,
0122 The ⌜mysteries⌝ of Hecate and the night,
0123 By all the operation of the orbs
0124 From whom we do exist and cease to be,
0125 125 Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
0126 Propinquity, and property of blood,
0127 And as a stranger to my heart and me
0128 Hold thee from this forever. The barbarous
0130 130 Or he that makes his generation messes
0131 To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom
0132 Be as well neighbored, pitied, and relieved
0133 As thou my sometime daughter.
KENT 0134 Good my liege—
LEAR 0135 135Peace, Kent.
0136 Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
0137 I loved her most and thought to set my rest
0138 On her kind nursery. ⌜To Cordelia.⌝ Hence and avoid
0139 my sight!—
0140 140 So be my grave my peace as here I give
0141 Her father’s heart from her.—Call France. Who stirs?
0142 Call Burgundy. ⌜An Attendant exits.⌝ Cornwall and
0144 With my two daughters’ dowers digest the third.
0145 145 Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
0146 I do invest you jointly with my power,
0147 Preeminence, and all the large effects
0148 That troop with majesty. Ourself by monthly course,
0149 With reservation of an hundred knights
0150 150 By you to be sustained, shall our abode
0151 Make with you by due turn. Only we shall retain
0152 The name and all th’ addition to a king.
0153 The sway, revenue, execution of the rest,
0155 155 This coronet part between you.
KENT 0156 Royal Lear,
0157 Whom I have ever honored as my king,
0158 Loved as my father, as my master followed,
0159 As my great patron thought on in my prayers—
0160 160 The bow is bent and drawn. Make from the shaft.
0161 Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
0162 The region of my heart. Be Kent unmannerly
0163 When Lear is mad. What wouldst thou do, old man?
0164 Think’st thou that duty shall have dread to speak
0165 165 When power to flattery bows? To plainness honor’s
0167 When majesty falls to folly. Reserve thy state,
0168 And in thy best consideration check
0169 This hideous rashness. Answer my life my
0170 170 judgment,
0171 Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least,
0172 Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sounds
0173 Reverb no hollowness.
LEAR 0174 Kent, on thy life, no more.
0175 175 My life I never held but as ⟨a⟩ pawn
0176 To wage against thine enemies, ⟨nor⟩ fear to lose
0178 Thy safety being motive.
LEAR 0179 Out of my sight!
0180 180 See better, Lear, and let me still remain
0181 The true blank of thine eye.
LEAR 0182 Now, by Apollo—
KENT 0183 Now, by Apollo, king,
0184 Thou swear’st thy gods in vain.
LEAR 0185 185O vassal! Miscreant!
0187 Kill thy physician, and thy fee bestow
0188 Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift,
0189 Or whilst I can vent clamor from my throat,
0190 190 I’ll tell thee thou dost evil.
0191 Hear me, recreant; on thine allegiance, hear me!
0192 That thou hast sought to make us break our vows—
0193 Which we durst never yet—and with strained pride
0194 To come betwixt our sentence and our power,
0195 195 Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,
0196 Our potency made good, take thy reward:
0197 Five days we do allot thee for provision
0198 To shield thee from disasters of the world,
0199 And on the sixth to turn thy hated back
0200 200 Upon our kingdom. If on the tenth day following
0201 Thy banished trunk be found in our dominions,
0202 The moment is thy death. Away! By Jupiter,
0203 This shall not be revoked.
0204 Fare thee well, king. Sith thus thou wilt appear,
0205 205 Freedom lives hence, and banishment is here.
0206 ⌜To Cordelia.⌝ The gods to their dear shelter take
0207 thee, maid,
0208 That justly think’st and hast most rightly said.
0209 ⌜To Goneril and Regan.⌝ And your large speeches
0210 210 may your deeds approve,
0211 That good effects may spring from words of love.—
0212 Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu.
0213 He’ll shape his old course in a country new.
Flourish. Enter Gloucester with France, and Burgundy,
0214 Here’s France and Burgundy, my noble lord.
0216 We first address toward you, who with this king
0217 Hath rivaled for our daughter. What in the least
0218 Will you require in present dower with her,
0219 Or cease your quest of love?
BURGUNDY 0220 220 Most royal Majesty,
0221 I crave no more than hath your Highness offered,
0222 Nor will you tender less.
LEAR 0223 Right noble Burgundy,
0224 When she was dear to us, we did hold her so,
0225 225 But now her price is fallen. Sir, there she stands.
0226 If aught within that little seeming substance,
0227 Or all of it, with our displeasure pieced
0228 And nothing more, may fitly like your Grace,
0229 She’s there, and she is yours.
BURGUNDY 0230 230 I know no answer.
0231 Will you, with those infirmities she owes,
0232 Unfriended, new-adopted to our hate,
0233 Dowered with our curse and strangered with our
0235 235 Take her or leave her?
BURGUNDY 0236 Pardon me, royal sir,
0237 Election makes not up in such conditions.
0238 Then leave her, sir, for by the power that made me
0239 I tell you all her wealth.—For you, great king,
0240 240 I would not from your love make such a stray
0241 To match you where I hate. Therefore beseech you
0242 T’ avert your liking a more worthier way
0243 Than on a wretch whom Nature is ashamed
0244 Almost t’ acknowledge hers.
FRANCE 0245 245 This is most strange,
0246 That she whom even but now was your ⟨best⟩
0248 The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
0250 250 Commit a thing so monstrous to dismantle
0251 So many folds of favor. Sure her offense
0252 Must be of such unnatural degree
0253 That monsters it, or your forevouched affection
0254 Fall into taint; which to believe of her
0255 255 Must be a faith that reason without miracle
0256 Should never plant in me.
CORDELIA, ⌜to Lear⌝ 0257 I yet beseech your Majesty—
0258 If for I want that glib and oily art
0259 To speak and purpose not, since what I ⟨well⟩
0260 260 intend
0261 I’ll do ’t before I speak—that you make known
0262 It is no vicious blot, murder, or foulness,
0263 No unchaste action or dishonored step
0264 That hath deprived me of your grace and favor,
0265 265 But even for want of that for which I am richer:
0266 A still-soliciting eye and such a tongue
0267 That I am glad I have not, though not to have it
0268 Hath lost me in your liking.
LEAR 0269 Better thou
0270 270 Hadst not been born than not t’ have pleased me
0272 Is it but this—a tardiness in nature
0273 Which often leaves the history unspoke
0274 That it intends to do?—My lord of Burgundy,
0275 275 What say you to the lady? Love’s not love
0276 When it is mingled with regards that stands
0277 Aloof from th’ entire point. Will you have her?
0278 She is herself a dowry.
BURGUNDY, ⌜to Lear⌝ 0279 Royal king,
0280 280 Give but that portion which yourself proposed,
0281 And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
0282 Duchess of Burgundy.
0283 Nothing. I have sworn. I am firm.
0284 I am sorry, then, you have so lost a father
0285 285 That you must lose a husband.
CORDELIA 0286 Peace be with
0288 Since that respect and fortunes are his love,
0289 I shall not be his wife.
0290 290 Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich being poor;
0291 Most choice, forsaken; and most loved, despised,
0292 Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon,
0293 Be it lawful I take up what’s cast away.
0294 Gods, gods! ’Tis strange that from their cold’st
0295 295 neglect
0296 My love should kindle to enflamed respect.—
0297 Thy dowerless daughter, king, thrown to my
0299 Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France.
0300 300 Not all the dukes of wat’rish Burgundy
0301 Can buy this unprized precious maid of me.—
0302 Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind.
0303 Thou losest here a better where to find.
0304 Thou hast her, France. Let her be thine, for we
0305 305 Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
0306 That face of hers again. ⌜To Cordelia.⌝ Therefore
0308 Without our grace, our love, our benison.—
0309 Come, noble Burgundy.
Flourish. ⌜All but France, Cordelia,
Goneril, and Regan⌝ exit.
FRANCE 0310 310Bid farewell to your sisters.
0311 The jewels of our father, with washed eyes
0312 Cordelia leaves you. I know you what you are,
0313 And like a sister am most loath to call
0315 315 father.
0316 To your professèd bosoms I commit him;
0317 But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,
0318 I would prefer him to a better place.
0319 So farewell to you both.
0320 320 Prescribe not us our duty.
GONERIL 0321 Let your study
0322 Be to content your lord, who hath received you
0323 At Fortune’s alms. You have obedience scanted
0324 And well are worth the want that you have wanted.
0325 325 Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides,
0326 Who covers faults at last with shame derides.
0327 Well may you prosper.
FRANCE 0328 Come, my fair Cordelia.
France and Cordelia exit.
GONERIL 0329 Sister, it is not little I have to say of what
0330 330 most nearly appertains to us both. I think our
0331 father will hence tonight.
REGAN 0332 That’s most certain, and with you; next month
0333 with us.
GONERIL 0334 You see how full of changes his age is; the
0335 335 observation we have made of it hath ⟨not⟩ been
0336 little. He always loved our sister most, and with
0337 what poor judgment he hath now cast her off
0338 appears too grossly.
REGAN 0339 ’Tis the infirmity of his age. Yet he hath ever
0340 340 but slenderly known himself.
GONERIL 0341 The best and soundest of his time hath been
0342 but rash. Then must we look from his age to
0343 receive not alone the imperfections of long-engraffed
0344 condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness
0345 345 that infirm and choleric years bring with
0348 from him as this of Kent’s banishment.
GONERIL 0349 There is further compliment of leave-taking
0350 350 between France and him. Pray you, let us sit
0351 together. If our father carry authority with such
0352 disposition as he bears, this last surrender of his will
0353 but offend us.
REGAN 0354 We shall further think of it.
GONERIL 0355 355We must do something, and i’ th’ heat.