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King Lear
by William Shakespeare

Act 2, Scene 2 Easiest-to-Read Edition

In front of Gloucester's castle

 

 

 

 



King Lear Act 2, Scene 2


 

Enter KENT disguised and OSWALD the steward, severally

Enter KENT disguised and OSWALD the steward, severally

OSWALD

Good dawning (daybreak) to thee, friend. Art of this house?

 

OSWALD

Good dawning to thee, friend. Art of this house?

 

KENT

Ay.

 

KENT

Ay.

 

OSWALD

Where may we set our horses?

 

OSWALD

Where may we set our horses?

 

KENT

I' th' mire.

 

KENT

I' th' mire.

 

OSWALD

Prithee, if thou lovest me, tell me.

 

OSWALD

Prithee, if thou lovest me, tell me.

 

KENT

I love thee not.

 

KENT

I love thee not.

 

OSWALD

Why, then, I care not for thee.

 

OSWALD

Why, then, I care not for thee.

 

KENT

If I had thee in Lipsbury pinfold (pound for stray animals), I would make thee care for me.

 

KENT

If I had thee in Lipsbury pinfold, I would make thee care for me.

 

OSWALD

Why dost thou use me thus? I know thee not.

 

OSWALD

Why dost thou use me thus? I know thee not.

 

KENT

Fellow, I know thee.

 

KENT

Fellow, I know thee.

 

OSWALD

What dost thou know me for?

 

OSWALD

What dost thou know me for?

 

KENT

A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats (leftovers); a base, proud, shallow, beggarly (worthless), three-suited (the extent of his clothing allowance), hundred-pound (salary per year), filthy, worsted-stocking (servants wore wool stockings) knave; a lily-livered (lily – pale, i.e., weak), action-(litigation)-taking knave (i.e., preferring litigation to fighting); a whoreson, glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical (fussy) rogue; one-trunk (minimal)-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd (pimp) in way of good service (to advance himself); and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch; one whom I will beat into clamorous whining if thou deniest the least syllable of thy addition (characterization).

 

KENT

A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking knave; a whoreson, glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of good service; and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch; one whom I will beat into clamorous whining if thou deniest the least syllable of thy addition.

 

OSWALD

Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail on (abuse) one that is neither known of thee nor knows thee!

 

OSWALD

Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail on one that is neither known of thee nor knows thee!

 

KENT

What a brazen-faced varlet (impudent menial) art thou to deny thou knowest me! Is it two days ago since I tripped up thy heels and beat thee before the king? Draw, you rogue, for though it be night yet the moon shines. I’ll make a sop (wet bread) o' th' moonshine of you.(draws his sword) Draw, you whoreson cullionly (cullion: testicle) barber-monger (always at the barber’s), draw!

 

KENT

What a brazen-faced varlet art thou to deny thou knowest me! Is it two days ago since I tripped up thy heels and beat thee before the king? Draw, you rogue, for though it be night yet the moon shines. I’ll make a sop o' th' moonshine of you.(draws his sword) Draw, you whoreson cullionly barber-monger, draw!

 

OSWALD

Away! I have nothing to do with thee.

 

OSWALD

Away! I have nothing to do with thee.

 

KENT

Draw, you rascal. You come with letters against the king and take Vanity (a character in the morality plays) the puppet’s part (puppet also means “woman”) against the royalty of her father. Draw, you rogue, or I’ll so (like this) carbonado your shanks (slash your legs). Draw, you rascal! Come your ways (come on, do the right thing).

 

KENT

Draw, you rascal. You come with letters against the king and take Vanity the puppet’s part against the royalty of her father. Draw, you rogue, or I’ll so carbonado your shanks. Draw, you rascal! Come your ways.

 

OSWALD

Help, ho! Murder! Help!

 

OSWALD

Help, ho! Murder! Help!

 

KENT

Strike, you slave. Stand, rogue. Stand, you neat (complete) slave, strike! (strikes OSWALD)

 

KENT

Strike, you slave. Stand, rogue. Stand, you neat slave, strike! (strikes OSWALD)

 

OSWALD

Help, ho! Murder, murder!

 

OSWALD

Help, ho! Murder, murder!

 

Enter EDMUND the bastard with his rapier drawn, the Duke of CORNWALL, the DuchessREGAN, GLOUCESTER, and servants

Enter EDMUND the bastard with his rapier drawn, the Duke of CORNWALL, the DuchessREGAN, GLOUCESTER, and servants

EDMUND

How now? What’s the matter? Part.

 

EDMUND

How now? What’s the matter? Part.

 

KENT

(to EDMUND) With you, goodman (subordinate) boy, if you please. Come,

I’ll flesh (stick) ye. Come on, young master.

 

KENT

(to EDMUND) With you, goodman boy, if you please. Come,

I’ll flesh ye. Come on, young master.

 

GLOUCESTER

Weapons, arms? What’s the matter here?

 

GLOUCESTER

Weapons, arms? What’s the matter here?

 

CORNWALL

Keep peace, upon your lives.

He dies that strikes again. What is the matter?

 

CORNWALL

Keep peace, upon your lives.

He dies that strikes again. What is the matter?

 

REGAN

The messengers from our sister and the king.

 

REGAN

The messengers from our sister and the king.

 

CORNWALL

What is your difference? Speak.

 

CORNWALL

What is your difference? Speak.

 

OSWALD

I am scarce in breath, my lord.

 

OSWALD

I am scarce in breath, my lord.

 

KENT

No marvel, you have so bestirred (stirred up) your valor. You cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in (renounces) thee. A tailor made thee (all outside, no inside).

 

KENT

No marvel, you have so bestirred your valor. You cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee. A tailor made thee.

 

CORNWALL

Thou art a strange fellow. A tailor make a man?

 

CORNWALL

Thou art a strange fellow. A tailor make a man?

 

KENT

Ay, a tailor, sir. A stone-cutter or painter could not have made him so ill though they had been but two hours o' th' trade.

 

KENT

Ay, a tailor, sir. A stone-cutter or painter could not have made him so ill though they had been but two hours o' th' trade.

 

CORNWALL

Speak yet. How grew your quarrel?

 

CORNWALL

Speak yet. How grew your quarrel?

 

OSWALD

This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spared at suit of (in consideration of) his gray beard—

 

OSWALD

This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spared at suit of his gray beard—

 

KENT

Thou whoreson zed (the letter z), thou unnecessary letter!—My lord, if you will give me leave, I will tread this unbolted (unkneaded) villain into mortar and daub the wall of a jakes (lavatory) with him.—Spare my gray beard, you wagtail (little wagging bird)?

 

KENT

Thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter!—My lord, if you will give me leave, I will tread this unbolted villain into mortar and daub the wall of a jakes with him.—Spare my gray beard, you wagtail?

 

CORNWALL

Peace, sirrah!

You beastly knave, know you no reverence?

 

CORNWALL

Peace, sirrah!

You beastly knave, know you no reverence?

 

KENT

Yes, sir, but anger hath a privilege.

 

KENT

Yes, sir, but anger hath a privilege.

 

CORNWALL

Why art thou angry?

 

CORNWALL

Why art thou angry?

 

KENT

That such a slave as this should wear a sword,

wear a sword – wear a sword like a gentleman

Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these,

Like rats, oft bite the holy cords atwain

holy cords=sacred bonds uniting families and society

Which are too intrinse t' unloose, smooth every passion

intrinse=entangled

smooth=smooth the way for

That in the natures of their lords rebel,

rebel=rise up

Bring oil to fire, snow to the colder moods;

Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks

halcyon beaks – the halcyon bird soothed the sea’s rough winds

With every gale and vary of their masters,

gall and vary=irritation and variance

Knowing naught, like dogs, but following.—

(to Oswald) A plague upon your epileptic visage!

Smile you my speeches as I were a fool?

(Smile you at my speeches as if . . .)

Goose, an (if) I had you upon Sarum plain,

Sarum=Salisbury

I’d drive ye cackling home to Camelot.

 

KENT

That such a slave as this should wear a sword,

Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these,

Like rats, oft bite the holy cords atwain

Which are too intrinse t' unloose, smooth every passion

That in the natures of their lords rebel,

Bring oil to fire, snow to the colder moods;

Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks

With every gall and vary of their masters,

Knowing naught, like dogs, but following.—

(to Oswald) A plague upon your epileptic visage!

Smile you my speeches as I were a fool?

Goose, an I had you upon Sarum plain,

I’d drive ye cackling home to Camelot.

 

CORNWALL

Why, art thou mad, old fellow?

 

CORNWALL

Why, art thou mad, old fellow?

 

GLOUCESTER

(to KENT)      How fell you out?

Say that.

 

GLOUCESTER

(to KENT)      How fell you out?

Say that.

 

KENT

No contraries hold more antipathy

Than I and such a knave.

 

KENT

No contraries hold more antipathy

Than I and such a knave.

 

CORNWALL

Why dost thou call him “knave”? What’s his offense?

 

CORNWALL

Why dost thou call him “knave”? What’s his offense?

 

KENT

His countenance likes (pleases) me not.

 

KENT

His countenance likes me not.

 

CORNWALL

No more perchance does mine, nor his, nor hers.

perchance=perhaps

 

CORNWALL

No more perchance does mine, nor his, nor hers.

 

KENT

Sir, ’tis my occupation to be plain.

I have seen better faces in my time

Than stands on any shoulder that I see

Before me at this instant.

 

KENT

Sir, ’tis my occupation to be plain.

I have seen better faces in my time

Than stands on any shoulder that I see

Before me at this instant.

 

CORNWALL

   This is some fellow,

Who, having been praised for bluntness, doth affect

A saucy roughness and constrains the garb

constrains the garb=forces his behavior

Quite from his nature. He cannot flatter, he.

from=out of

An honest mind and plain, he must speak truth.

An they will take it, so. If not, he’s plain.

These kind of knaves I know, which in this plainness

Harbor more craft and more corrupter ends

Than twenty silly-ducking observants

silly-ducking=head bowing, like ducks in water

observants=servants

That stretch their duties nicely.

(that work at their foolish jobs)

 

CORNWALL

   This is some fellow,

Who, having been praised for bluntness, doth affect

A saucy roughness and constrains the garb

Quite from his nature. He cannot flatter, he.

An honest mind and plain, he must speak truth.

An they will take it, so. If not, he’s plain.

These kind of knaves I know, which in this plainness

Harbor more craft and more corrupter ends

Than twenty silly-ducking observants

That stretch their duties nicely.

 

KENT

Sir, in good faith, or in sincere verity,

Under th' allowance of your great aspect,

(under the magnanimity of your on-high position)

Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire

On flickering Phoebus' front—

Phoebus’ front=the sun’s face

 

KENT

Sir, in good faith, or in sincere verity,

Under th' allowance of your great aspect,

Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire

On flickering Phoebus' front—

 

CORNWALL

     What mean’st by this?

 

CORNWALL

     What mean’st by this?

 

KENT

To go out of my dialect, which you discommend (dislike) so much. I know, sir, I am no flatterer. He that beguiled you in a plain accent was a plain knave (crook), which for my part I will not be, though I should win your displeasure to entreat me to ’t (if you asked me to be and I wasn’t).

 

KENT

To go out of my dialect, which you discommend so much. I know, sir, I am no flatterer. He that beguiled you in a plain accent was a plain knave, which for my part I will not be, though I should win your displeasure to entreat me to ’t.

 

CORNWALL

(to OSWALD) What was th' offense you gave him?

 

CORNWALL

(to OSWALD) What was th' offense you gave him?

 

OSWALD

     I never gave him any.

It pleased the king his master very late

To strike at me upon his misconstruction

When he, conjunct and flattering his displeasure,

he=Kent

conjunct=joining in

his displeasure=Lear’s displeasure

Tripped me behind; being down, insulted, railed,

being down=I, being down, he . . .

And put upon him such a deal of man

deal of man=great deal of masculinity

That worthied him, got praises of the king

that worthied him=that made him look good

of the king=from the king

For him attempting who was self-subdued.

for him attempting who=for Kent’s attacking him who

And in the fleshment of this dread exploit

fleshment=successful accompllshment

Drew on me here again.

drew=drew forth his sword

 

OSWALD

     I never gave him any.

It pleased the king his master very late

To strike at me upon his misconstruction

When he, conjunct and flattering his displeasure,

Tripped me behind; being down, insulted, railed,

And put upon him such a deal of man

That worthied him, got praises of the king

For him attempting who was self-subdued.

And in the fleshment of this dread exploit

Drew on me here again.

 

KENT

   None of these rogues and cowards

But Ajax (brave Greek warrior) is their fool.

 

KENT

   None of these rogues and cowards

But Ajax is their fool.

 

CORNWALL

   Fetch forth the stocks, ho!—

You stubborn ancient knave, you reverend braggart,

reverend=respected (i.e., old)

We’ll teach you.

 

CORNWALL

   Fetch forth the stocks, ho!—

You stubborn ancient knave, you reverend braggart,

We’ll teach you.

 

KENT

   Sir, I am too old to learn.

Call not your stocks for me. I serve the king,

On whose employment I was sent to you.

You shall do small respect, show too bold malice

Against the grace and person of my master,

grace and person=kingliness and manliness

Stocking his messenger.

 

KENT

   Sir, I am too old to learn.

Call not your stocks for me. I serve the king,

On whose employment I was sent to you.

You shall do small respect, show too bold malice

Against the grace and person of my master,

Stocking his messenger.

 

CORNWALL

   Fetch forth the stocks!

As I have life and honor, there shall he sit till noon.

 

CORNWALL

   Fetch forth the stocks!

As I have life and honor, there shall he sit till noon.

 

REGAN

Till noon? Till night, my lord, and all night too.

 

REGAN

Till noon? Till night, my lord, and all night too.

 

KENT

Why, madam, if I were your father’s dog,

You should (would) not use me so.

 

KENT

Why, madam, if I were your father’s dog,

You should not use me so.

 

REGAN

   Sir, being (you being) his knave, I will.

 

REGAN

   Sir, being his knave, I will.

 

Stocks brought out

Stocks brought out

CORNWALL

This is a fellow of the selfsame color

Our sister speaks of.—Come, bring away the stocks!

 

CORNWALL

This is a fellow of the selfsame color

Our sister speaks of.—Come, bring away the stocks!

 

GLOUCESTER

Let me beseech your grace not to do so.

His fault is much, and the good king his master

Will check him for ’t. Your purposed low correction

Is such as basest and contemned’st wretches

For pilferings and most common trespasses

Are punished with. The king his master needs must take it ill,

That he, so slightly valued in his messenger,

Should have him thus restrained.

 

GLOUCESTER

Let me beseech your grace not to do so.

His fault is much, and the good king his master

Will check him for ’t. Your purposed low correction

Is such as basest and contemned’st wretches

For pilferings and most common trespasses

Are punished with. The king his master needs must take it ill,

That he, so slightly valued in his messenger,

Should have him thus restrained.

 

 

CORNWALL

     I’ll answer that.

 

CORNWALL

     I’ll answer that.

 

REGAN

My sister may receive it much more worse

To have her gentleman abused, assaulted

For following her affairs.—Put in his legs.

 

REGAN

My sister may receive it much more worse

To have her gentleman abused, assaulted

For following her affairs.—Put in his legs.

 

KENT is put in the stocks

KENT is put in the stocks

CORNWALL

(to GLOUCESTER) Come, my good lord, away.

 

CORNWALL

(to GLOUCESTER) Come, my good lord, away.

 

Exeunt all but GLOUCESTER and KENT

Exeunt all but GLOUCESTER and KENT

GLOUCESTER

I am sorry for thee, friend. 'Tis the duke’s pleasure,

Whose disposition, all the world well knows,

Will not be rubbed nor stopped. I’ll entreat for thee.

 

GLOUCESTER

I am sorry for thee, friend. 'Tis the duke’s pleasure,

Whose disposition, all the world well knows,

Will not be rubbed nor stopped. I’ll entreat for thee.

 

KENT

Pray you do not, sir. I have watched and traveled hard.

Some time I shall sleep out. The rest I’ll whistle.

A good man’s fortune may grow out at heels.

grow out at heels=turn bad (get holes in stockings)

Give you good morrow.

 

KENT

Pray you do not, sir. I have watched and traveled hard.

Some time I shall sleep out. The rest I’ll whistle.

A good man’s fortune may grow out at heels.

Give you good morrow.

 

GLOUCESTER

The duke’s to blame in this. 'Twill be ill taken.

 

GLOUCESTER

The duke’s to blame in this. 'Twill be ill taken.

 

Exit GLOUCESTER

Exit GLOUCESTER

KENT

Good King, that must approve the common saw,

approve=prove

Thou out of heaven’s benediction comest

thou=Lear

out of=excluded from

comest=comes in time

To the warm sun.

(takes out a letter)

Approach, thou beacon to this underglobe,

approach=approach, Dawn

thou beacon=the sun

That by thy comfortable beams I may

Peruse this letter. Nothing almost sees miracles

But misery. I know ’tis from Cordelia,

(Only the really miserable are blessed with miracles, such as this letter from Cordelia. This line is the subject of much debate.)

Who hath most fortunately been informed

Of my obscurèd course and (reads the letter) “shall find time

obscured=in disguise

From this enormous state, seeking to give

this enormous state=France

Losses their remedies.” All weary and o'erwatched,

weary and o’erwatched – referring to himself

Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold

This shameful lodging (the stocks).

Fortune, good night. Smile once more. Turn thy wheel.

(the wheel of fortune is sometimes up, sometimes down)

(sleeps)

 

KENT

Good King, that must approve the common saw,

Thou out of heaven’s benediction comest

To the warm sun.

(takes out a letter)

Approach, thou beacon to this underglobe,

That by thy comfortable beams I may

Peruse this letter. Nothing almost sees miracles

But misery. I know ’tis from Cordelia,

Who hath most fortunately been informed

Of my obscurèd course and (reads the letter) “shall find time

From this enormous state, seeking to give

Losses their remedies.” All weary and o'erwatched,

Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold

This shameful lodging.

Fortune, good night. Smile once more. Turn thy wheel.

(sleeps)

 

 

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