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King Lear

(Line differences from Q1 are in brackets, lines in F1 only are in italics)


Act 5 Scene 1

The British camp, near Dover
Enter EDMUND, REGAN, and Soldiers

Know of the duke if his last purpose hold,
Or whether since, he is advised by aught
To change the course. He’s full of alteration
And self-reproving. Bring his constant pleasure.

Soldier exits

Our sister’s man is certainly miscarried.

‘Tis to be doubted, madam.

Now, sweet lord,
You know the goodness I intend upon you.
Tell me but truly — but then speak the truth,
Do you not love my sister?

In honoured love.

But have you never found my brother’s way
To the forfended place?

That thought abuses you.

I am doubtful that you have been conjunct
And bosomed with her, as far as we call hers.]

No, by mine honour, madam.

I never shall endure her, dear my lord,
Be not familiar with her.

Fear me not.
She and the duke her husband.

Enter ALBANY, GONERIL, and Soldiers

(Aside) I had rather lose the battle than that sister
Should loosen him and me.]

Our very loving sister, well be-met.
Sir, this I hear; the king is come to his daughter,
With others whom the rigor of our state
Forced to cry out. [Where I could not be honest,
I never yet was valiant: for this business,
It toucheth us, as France invades our land,
Not bolds the king, with others whom I fear
Most just and heavy causes make oppose.

Sir, you speak nobly.]

Why is this reasoned?

Combine together ‘gainst the enemy,
For these domestic and particular broils
Are not the [to] question here.

Let’s then determine
With the ancient of war on our proceedings.

I shall attend you presently at your tent.]

Sister, you’ll go with us?


‘Tis most convenient; pray you, go with us.

O, ho, I know the riddle. I will go.

Enter EDGAR disguised

If e’er your grace had speech with man so poor,
Hear me one word.

I’ll overtake you. Speak.

Exit all but ALBANY and EDGAR

Before you fight the battle, open this letter.
If you have victory, let the trumpet sound
For him that brought it. Wretched though I seem,
I can produce a champion that will prove
What is avouched there. If you miscarry,
Your business of the world hath so an end,
And machination ceases. Fortune love you.

Stay till I have read the letter.

I was forbid it.
When time shall serve, let but the herald cry,
And I’ll appear again.

Why, fare thee well: I will o’erlook thy paper.

Exit EDGAR, enter EDMUND

The enemy’s in view; draw up your powers.
Here [Hard] is the guess of their true [great] strength and forces
By diligent discovery; but your haste
Is now urged on you.

We will greet the time.


To both these sisters have I sworn my love,
Each jealous of the other, as the stung
Are of the adder. Which of them shall I take?
Both? one? or neither? Neither can be enjoyed
If both remain alive. To take the widow
Exasperates, makes mad her sister Goneril,
And hardly shall I carry out my side,
Her husband being alive. Now then we’ll use
His countenance for the battle, which being done,
Let her who would be rid of him devise
His speedy taking off. As for the [his] mercy
Which he intends to Lear and to Cordelia,
The battle done, and they within our power,
Shall never see his pardon; for my state
Stands on me to defend, not to debate.



Know: Inquire

purpose: latest intention to fight

advised by aught: persuaded by anything

alteration: indecision, changing his mind

constant pleasure: final decision

sister’s man: Goneril’s servant Oswald

miscarried: met with misfortune or death

doubted: feared

forfended: forbidden; that is, have you slept with her?

doubtful: fearful

conjunct and bosom’d: joined with her in the most intimate way

loosen: separate

rigor: hard demands; that is, those who have complaints with our governing have sided with Cordelia and France

honest: honorable

toucheth: affects

Not bolds the king … oppose: I enter this battle because France, a foreign power, has invaded our land, but not because France supports (makes bold) Lear and his forces who have in fact just grievances for which to fight. Albany sympathizes with Lear’s cause, but as a good soldier he will defend England.

reasoned: argued

domestic and particular broils: private quarrels between the two houses (as was hinted at in 3.1); this is no time to fight among ourselves.

ancient of war: experienced commanders

riddle: the real reason why you want me to go with you (and not stay here with Edmund)

overtake: I’ll catch up with you (said to his men)

avouched: charged (the letter he found on Oswald, plotting Albany’s death)

machination: plotting, which will cease once he is dead

guess: estimate

greet the time: be ready

jealous: suspicious

countenance: support

speedy taking off: quick death

debate: my status depends on action, not debating right and wrong

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