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King Lear - Act 2, scene 3


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King Lear - Act 2, scene 3
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Act 2, scene 3

Scene 3


Edgar disguises himself as a madman-beggar to escape his death sentence. (Although Kent remains onstage, a new scene begins because the locale shifts away from Gloucester’s castle, from which Edgar has fled.)

Enter Edgar.

EDGAR  1340 I heard myself proclaimed,
1341  And by the happy hollow of a tree
1342  Escaped the hunt. No port is free; no place
1343  That guard and most unusual vigilance
1344 5 Does not attend my taking. Whiles I may ’scape,
1345  I will preserve myself, and am bethought
1346  To take the basest and most poorest shape
1347  That ever penury in contempt of man
1348  Brought near to beast. My face I’ll grime with filth,
1349 10 Blanket my loins, elf all my hairs in knots,
1350  And with presented nakedness outface
p. 97
1351  The winds and persecutions of the sky.
1352  The country gives me proof and precedent
1353  Of Bedlam beggars who with roaring voices
1354 15 Strike in their numbed and mortifièd arms
1355  Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary,
1356  And, with this horrible object, from low farms,
1357  Poor pelting villages, sheepcotes, and mills,
1358  Sometime with lunatic bans, sometime with prayers,
1359 20 Enforce their charity. “Poor Turlygod! Poor Tom!”
1360  That’s something yet. “Edgar” I nothing am.
He exits.