King Lear By William Shakespeare Act II: Scene 4

GONERIL.
At your choice, sir.

LEAR.
I pr'ythee, daughter, do not make me mad:
I will not trouble thee, my child; farewell:
We'll no more meet, no more see one another: —
But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter;
Or rather a disease that's in my flesh,
Which I must needs call mine: thou art a boil,
A plague sore, an embossed carbuncle
In my corrupted blood. But I'll not chide thee;
Let shame come when it will, I do not call it:
I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot
Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove:
Mend when thou canst; be better at thy leisure:
I can be patient; I can stay with Regan,
I and my hundred knights.

REGAN.
Not altogether so:
I look'd not for you yet, nor am provided
For your fit welcome. Give ear, sir, to my sister;
For those that mingle reason with your passion
Must be content to think you old, and so —
But she knows what she does.

LEAR.
Is this well spoken?

REGAN.
I dare avouch it, sir: what, fifty followers?
Is it not well? What should you need of more?
Yea, or so many, sith that both charge and danger
Speak 'gainst so great a number? How in one house
Should many people, under two commands,
Hold amity? 'Tis hard; almost impossible.

GONERIL.
Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance
From those that she calls servants, or from mine?

REGAN.
Why not, my lord? If then they chanc'd to slack you,
We could control them. If you will come to me, —
For now I spy a danger, — I entreat you
To bring but five-and-twenty: to no more
Will I give place or notice.

LEAR.
I gave you all, —

REGAN.
And in good time you gave it.

LEAR.
Made you my guardians, my depositaries;
But kept a reservation to be follow'd
With such a number. What, must I come to you
With five-and-twenty, Regan? said you so?

REGAN.
And speak't again my lord; no more with me.

LEAR.
Those wicked creatures yet do look well-favour'd
When others are more wicked; not being the worst
Stands in some rank of praise. —
[To Goneril.] I'll go with thee:
Thy fifty yet doth double five-and-twenty,
And thou art twice her love.

GONERIL.
Hear, me, my lord:
What need you five-and-twenty, ten, or five,
To follow in a house where twice so many
Have a command to tend you?

REGAN.
What need one?

LEAR.
O, reason not the need: our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous:
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man's life is cheap as beast's: thou art a lady;
If only to go warm were gorgeous,
Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st
Which scarcely keeps thee warm. — But, for true need, —
You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!
You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,
As full of grief as age; wretched in both!
If it be you that stirs these daughters' hearts
Against their father, fool me not so much
To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger,
And let not women's weapons, water-drops,
Stain my man's cheeks! — No, you unnatural hags,
I will have such revenges on you both
That all the world shall, — I will do such things, —
What they are yet, I know not; but they shall be
The terrors of the earth. You think I'll weep;
No, I'll not weep: —
I have full cause of weeping; but this heart
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws
Or ere I'll weep. — O fool, I shall go mad!

[Exeunt Lear, Gloucester, Kent, and Fool. Storm heard at a
distance.]

CORNWALL.
Let us withdraw; 'twill be a storm.

REGAN.
This house is little: the old man and his people
Cannot be well bestow'd.

GONERIL.
'Tis his own blame; hath put himself from rest
And must needs taste his folly.

REGAN.
For his particular, I'll receive him gladly,
But not one follower.

GONERIL.
So am I purpos'd.
Where is my lord of Gloucester?

CORNWALL.
Followed the old man forth: — he is return'd.

[Re-enter Gloucester.]

GLOUCESTER.
The king is in high rage.

CORNWALL.
Whither is he going?

GLOUCESTER.
He calls to horse; but will I know not whither.

CORNWALL.
'Tis best to give him way; he leads himself.

GONERIL.
My lord, entreat him by no means to stay.

GLOUCESTER.
Alack, the night comes on, and the high winds
Do sorely ruffle; for many miles about
There's scarce a bush.

REGAN.
O, sir, to wilful men
The injuries that they themselves procure
Must be their schoolmasters. Shut up your doors:
He is attended with a desperate train;
And what they may incense him to, being apt
To have his ear abus'd, wisdom bids fear.

CORNWALL.
Shut up your doors, my lord; 'tis a wild night:
My Regan counsels well: come out o' the storm.

[Exeunt.]

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

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




Quiz