King Lear

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Lear, Kent, and the Fool


Here is the place, my lord; good my lord, enter.

The tyranny of the open night's too rough
tyranny (n.) cruelty, barbarity, unmerciful violence

For nature to endure.

Storm still
nature (n.) 3 human nature


                         Let me alone.


Good my lord, enter here.


                         Wilt break my heart?


I had rather break mine own. Good my lord, enter.


Thou think'st 'tis much that this contentious storm
contentious (adj.) hostile, belligerent, quarrelsome

Invades us to the skin; so 'tis to thee.

But where the greater malady is fixed,
fixed (adj.) 2 rooted, established, in place

The lesser is scarce felt. Thou'dst shun a bear;

But if thy flight lay toward the roaring sea

Thou'dst meet the bear i'the mouth. When the mind's free
free (adj.) 4 free of worry, untroubled, carefree

The body's delicate; this tempest in my mind
delicate (adj.) 6 sensitive, tender, not robust

Doth from my senses take all feeling else

Save what beats there. – Filial ingratitude!
beat (v.) 1 hammer away, ponder furiously

Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand

For lifting food to't? But I will punish home.
home (adv.) 1 fully, thoroughly, unsparingly

No, I will weep no more! In such a night

To shut me out! Pour on; I will endure.

In such a night as this! O Regan, Gonerill!

Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all!
frank (adj.) 1 generous, liberal, bounteous

O, that way madness lies; let me shun that;

No more of that!


                         Good my lord, enter here.


Prithee go in thyself: seek thine own ease.

This tempest will not give me leave to ponder

On things would hurt me more; but I'll go in.

(To the Fool)

In, boy, go first. – You houseless poverty –

Nay, get thee in. I'll pray and then I'll sleep.

Exit the Fool

Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are,

That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
bide (v.) 1 endure, suffer, undergo

How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,

Your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you
looped (adj.) full of holes
windowed (adj.) full of holes

From seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en
season (n.) 4 time of year, weather conditions

Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;
physic (n.) 1 medicine, healing, treatment See Topics: Frequency count

Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,

That thou mayst shake the superflux to them
superflux (n.) superfluity, superabundance, surplus possessions

And show the heavens more just.



Fathom and half, fathom and half! Poor Tom!

Enter the Fool from the hovel


Come not in here, nuncle; here's a spirit. Help me,

help me!


Give me thy hand. Who's there?


A spirit, a spirit! He says his name's Poor Tom.


What art thou that dost grumble there i'the straw?
grumble (v.) mutter, mumble, growl

Come forth.

Enter Edgar disguised as Poor Tom


Away! The foul fiend follows me.

Through the sharp hawthorn blow the cold winds.

Humh! Go to thy bed and warm thee.


Didst thou give all to thy daughters? And art thou

come to this?


Who gives anything to Poor Tom? whom the foul

fiend hath led through fire and through flame, through

ford and whirlpool, o'er bog and quagmire, that hath

laid knives under his pillow and halters in his pew, set
halter (n.) 1 rope with a noose [for hanging]

ratsbane by his porridge, made him proud of heart, to
porridge (n.) meat and vegetable stew or broth [reputed to produce strength]
ratsbane (n.) rat poison

ride on a bay trotting horse over four-inched bridges to

course his own shadow for a traitor. Bless thy five wits!
course (v.) 1 chase, hunt, pursue
wits, also five wits faculties of the mind (common wit, imagination, fantasy, estimation, memory) or body (the five senses)

Tom's a-cold. O do, de, do de, do de. Bless thee from

whirlwinds, star-blasting, and taking! Do Poor Tom
star-blasting (n.) bad influence of the stars
taking (n.) 2 attack of disease, seizure

some charity, whom the foul fiend vexes. There could I
vex (v.) afflict, trouble, torment

have him now, and there, and there again, and there.

Storm still
pass (n.) 7 predicament, juncture, critical point


What, has his daughters brought him to this pass?

Couldst thou save nothing? Wouldst thou give 'em all?


Nay, he reserved a blanket; else we had been all
reserve (v.) preserve, retain, keep



Now all the plagues that in the pendulous air
pendulous (adj.) overhanging, suspended overhead

Hang fated o'er men's faults light on thy daughters!
light (v.) 1 alight, descend, fall, come to rest


He hath no daughters, sir.


Death, traitor! Nothing could have subdued nature
nature (n.) 3 human nature
subdue (v.) 1 get the better of, bring down, reduce

To such a lowness but his unkind daughters.
lowness (n.) degradation, abasement, decline
unkind (adj.) 3 lacking in family affection, with no respect for kinship

Is it the fashion that discarded fathers

Should have thus little mercy on their flesh?

Judicious punishment! 'Twas this flesh begot
judicious (adj.) 2 appropriate, fitting, proper

Those pelican daughters.
pelican (adj.) bird reputed to feed her young with her own blood


Pillicock sat on Pillicock Hill.
pillicock [slang] penis

Alow, alow, loo, loo!


This cold night will turn us all to fools and



Take heed o'the foul fiend, obey thy parents, keep

thy word's justice, swear not, commit not with man's
commit (v.) 2 commit adultery, offend, fornicate

sworn spouse, set not thy sweet heart on proud array.
array (n.) 1 attire, clothes, clothing, dress
proud (adj.) 1 fine, splendid, luxurious

Tom's a-cold.


What hast thou been?


A servingman, proud in heart and mind, that
servingman (n.) male servant, male attendant

curled my hair, wore gloves in my cap, served the lust of

my mistress' heart and did the act of darkness with her,

swore as many oaths as I spake words and broke them in

the sweet face of heaven; one that slept in the contriving

of lust and waked to do it. Wine loved I deeply, dice

dearly, and in woman out-paramoured the Turk – false
false (adj.) 2 disloyal, faithless, inconstant, unfaithful
out-paramour (v.) have more lovers than

of heart, light of ear, bloody of hand; hog in sloth, fox in
ear (n.) hearing, listening, paying attention
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious See Topics: Frequency count
light (adj.) 6 facile, frivolous, of no consequence

stealth, wolf in greediness, dog in madness, lion in prey.
prey (n.) 1 preying, violence, devouring
stealth (n.) 2 stealing, theft

Let not the creaking of shoes nor the rustling of silks

betray thy poor heart to woman. Keep thy foot out of

brothels, thy hand out of plackets, thy pen from lenders'
placket (n.) 2 opening in the front of a skirt or petticoat

books, and defy the foul fiend.

Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind,
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

Says suum, mun, nonny.

Dolphin, my boy, boy, sesey! Let him trot by.
sessa, sesey, sese (int.) [cry of encouragement used in hunting, fencing] be off, off you go See Topics: Sounds

Storm still
answer (v.) 5 cope with, face, encounter


Thou wert better in a grave than to answer with thy

uncovered body this extremity of the skies. Is man no
extremity (n.) 3 utmost severity, extreme intensity, hardship

more than this? Consider him well. Thou owest the

worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no wool, the

cat no perfume. Ha! Here's three on's are sophisticated.
cat (n.) civet cat [source of some perfumes]
sophisticated (adj.) removed from the simple state, no longer natural

Thou art the thing itself! Unaccommodated man is no
unaccommodated (adj.) not possessed of clothes, unprovided with comforts

more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art.
forked (adj.) 2 having two legs

Off, off, you lendings! Come, unbutton here.
lending (n.) 1 (plural) something lent, borrowing

He tears off his clothes
contented (adj.) 3 calm, easy in mind, restrained
naughty (adj.) 2 bad, nasty, horrible


Prithee, nuncle, be contented; 'tis a naughty night

to swim in. Now a little fire in a wild field were like an
field (n.) 4 wasteland, wilderness

old lecher's heart – a small spark, all the rest on's body

cold. Look, here comes a walking fire.

Enter Gloucester with a torch


This is the foul fiend Flibberdigibbet. He begins

at curfew and walks till the first cock. He gives the web
web and the pin, pin and web disease of the eye, cataract

and the pin, squenies the eye and makes the harelip,

mildews the white wheat, and hurts the poor creature of
white (adj.) 1 ready for harvesting, ripening


S'Withold footed thrice the 'old;
foot (v.) 1 pace, walk about
wold (n.) rolling hills, upland

He met the nightmare and her nine-fold,
nine-fold (n.) set of nine attendants

Bid her alight and her troth plight –
plight one's troth, plight troth 2 make a solemn promise [to do no harm]

And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!
aroint (v.) be gone, away with you


How fares your grace?
fare (v.) 1 get on, manage, do, cope See Topics: Frequency count


What's he?


(to Gloucester)

Who's there? What is't you seek?


What are you there? Your names?


Poor Tom, that eats the swimming frog, the toad,

the todpole, the wall-newt and the water; that in the
todpole (n.) tadpole
wall-newt (n.) lizard on the wall
water (n.) 4 water-newt

fury of his heart, when the foul fiend rages, eats cow-dung

for sallets, swallows the old rat and the ditch-dog,
ditch-dog (n.) dead dog thrown in a ditch

drinks the green mantle of the standing pool; who is
mantle (n.) 2 surface vegetable matter, covering
standing (adj.) 1 stagnant, not flowing

whipped from tithing to tithing and stock-punished and
stock-punished (adj.) punished by being put in the stocks

imprisoned; who hath had three suits to his back, six

shirts to his body,

Horse to ride and weapon to wear –

But mice and rats and such small deer
deer (n.) animal, beast

Have been Tom's food for seven long year.

Beware my follower! Peace, Smulkin. Peace, thou fiend!


What, hath your grace no better company?


The prince of darkness is a gentleman; Modo he's

called and Mahu.


Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so vile
vile, vild (adj.) 1 degrading, ignominious, worthless

That it doth hate what gets it.
get (v.) 1 beget, conceive, breed


Poor Tom's a-cold.


Go in with me. My duty cannot suffer
suffer (v.) 4 bear, endure, stand

T' obey in all your daughters' hard commands;
hard (adj.) 4 unpleasant, harsh, cruel

Though their injunction be to bar my doors
injunction (n.) order, directive, command

And let this tyrannous night take hold upon you,
tyrannous (adj.) cruel, pitiless, oppressive

Yet have I ventured to come seek you out

And bring you where both fire and food is ready.


First let me talk with this philosopher.
philosopher (n.) one learned in natural philosophy, sage

(To Edgar)

What is the cause of thunder?


                         Good my lord,

Take his offer, go into the house.


I'll talk a word with this same learned Theban.

(To Edgar)

What is your study?


How to prevent the fiend and to kill vermin.
prevent (v.) 3 forestall, baffle, confound


Let me ask you one word in private.

Lear and Edgar talk apart
importune (v.) 1 urge, press


Importune him once more to go, my lord.

His wits begin t' unsettle.
wits, also five wits faculties of the mind (common wit, imagination, fantasy, estimation, memory) or body (the five senses)


                         Canst thou blame him? –

(storm still)

His daughters seek his death. Ah, that good Kent,

He said it would be thus, poor banished man!

Thou sayest the King grows mad; I'll tell thee, friend,

I am almost mad myself. I had a son,

Now outlawed from my blood; he sought my life
blood (n.) 6 blood relationship, kinship

But lately, very late. I loved him, friend,
late (adv.) recently, a little while ago / before
lately (adv.) 1 recently, of late

No father his son dearer. True to tell thee,

The grief hath crazed my wits. What a night's this! –
wits, also five wits faculties of the mind (common wit, imagination, fantasy, estimation, memory) or body (the five senses)

I do beseech your grace –


                         O, cry you mercy, sir.

(To Edgar)
philosopher (n.) one learned in natural philosophy, sage

Noble philosopher, your company.


Tom's a-cold.


In, fellow, there, into th' hovel; keep thee



Come, let's in all.


                         This way, my lord.


                                                         With him!

I will keep still with my philosopher.
philosopher (n.) one learned in natural philosophy, sage


Good my lord, soothe him: let him take the fellow.
soothe (v.) 1 humour, encourage, indulge


Take him you on.


Sirrah, come on. Go along with us.


Come, good Athenian.


No words, no words! Hush!


Child Roland to the dark tower came;

His word was still ‘ Fie, foh, and fum,
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

I smell the blood of a British man.’


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