King Lear By William Shakespeare Act V: Scene 3

There's my exchange [throwing down a glove]: what in the world he
That names me traitor, villain-like he lies:
Call by thy trumpet: he that dares approach,
On him, on you, who not? I will maintain
My truth and honour firmly.

A herald, ho!

A herald, ho, a herald!

Trust to thy single virtue; for thy soldiers,
All levied in my name, have in my name
Took their discharge.

My sickness grows upon me.

She is not well. Convey her to my tent.

[Exit Regan, led.]

[Enter a Herald.]

Come hither, herald. — Let the trumpet sound, —
And read out this.

Sound, trumpet!

[A trumpet sounds.]

[Reads.] 'If any man of quality or degree within the lists of
the army will maintain upon Edmund, supposed Earl of Gloucester,
that he is a manifold traitor, let him appear by the third sound
of the trumpet. He is bold in his defence.'


[First trumpet.]


[Second trumpet.]


[Third trumpet. Trumpet answers within. Enter Edgar, armed,
preceded by a trumpet.]

Ask him his purposes, why he appears
Upon this call o' the trumpet.

What are you?
Your name, your quality? and why you answer
This present summons?

Know, my name is lost;
By treason's tooth bare-gnawn and canker-bit.
Yet am I noble as the adversary
I come to cope.

Which is that adversary?

What's he that speaks for Edmund Earl of Gloucester?

Himself: — what say'st thou to him?

Draw thy sword,
That, if my speech offend a noble heart,
Thy arm may do thee justice: here is mine.
Behold, it is the privilege of mine honours,
My oath, and my profession: I protest, —
Maugre thy strength, youth, place, and eminence,
Despite thy victor sword and fire-new fortune,
Thy valour and thy heart, — thou art a traitor;
False to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father;
Conspirant 'gainst this high illustrious prince;
And, from the extremest upward of thy head
To the descent and dust beneath thy foot,
A most toad-spotted traitor. Say thou 'No,'
This sword, this arm, and my best spirits are bent
To prove upon thy heart, whereto I speak,
Thou liest.

In wisdom I should ask thy name;
But since thy outside looks so fair and warlike,
And that thy tongue some say of breeding breathes,
What safe and nicely I might well delay
By rule of knighthood, I disdain and spurn:
Back do I toss those treasons to thy head;
With the hell-hated lie o'erwhelm thy heart;
Which, — for they yet glance by and scarcely bruise, —
This sword of mine shall give them instant way,
Where they shall rest for ever. — Trumpets, speak!

[Alarums. They fight. Edmund falls.]

Save him, save him!

This is mere practice, Gloucester:
By the law of arms thou wast not bound to answer
An unknown opposite; thou art not vanquish'd,
But cozen'd and beguil'd.

Shut your mouth, dame,
Or with this paper shall I stop it: — Hold, sir;
Thou worse than any name, read thine own evil: —
No tearing, lady; I perceive you know it.

[Gives the letter to Edmund.]

Say if I do, — the laws are mine, not thine:
Who can arraign me for't?

Most monstrous!
Know'st thou this paper?

Ask me not what I know.


Go after her: she's desperate; govern her.

[To an Officer, who goes out.]

What, you have charg'd me with, that have I done;
And more, much more; the time will bring it out:
'Tis past, and so am I. — But what art thou
That hast this fortune on me? If thou'rt noble,
I do forgive thee.

Let's exchange charity.
I am no less in blood than thou art, Edmund;
If more, the more thou hast wrong'd me.
My name is Edgar, and thy father's son.
The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
Make instruments to plague us:
The dark and vicious place where thee he got
Cost him his eyes.

Thou hast spoken right; 'tis true;
The wheel is come full circle; I am here.

Methought thy very gait did prophesy
A royal nobleness: — I must embrace thee:
Let sorrow split my heart if ever I
Did hate thee or thy father!

Worthy prince, I know't.

Where have you hid yourself?
How have you known the miseries of your father?

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

How did the original audience respond to the ending of King Lear?