King Lear
King Lear
Perma-Bound Edition12.34

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Annotation: Shakespeare readers will further be able to understand and appreciate the text of this play with the help of explanatory footnotes on the language and expressions used and a history of Shakespearean theater and writing.
Catalog Number: #171005
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
Teaching Materials: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Teaching Materials
Copyright Date: 1988
Edition Date: 1988
Pages: xxxix, 182 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-553-21297-4 Perma-Bound: 0-605-02423-5
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-553-21297-6 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-02423-6
Dewey: 822.3
Dimensions: 18 cm.
Language: English
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 172-178).
Word Count: 4,655
Reading Level: 4.0
Interest Level: 9+
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.0 / points: 1.0 / quiz: 125512 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:10.0 / points:19.0 / quiz:Q19839
Lexile: NP

[Dramatis Personae



REGAN,     Lear's daughters


DUKE OF ALBANY, Goneril's husband

DUKE OF CORNWALL, Regan's husband

KING OF FRANCE, Cordelia's suitor and husband

DUKE OF BURGUNDY, suitor to Cordelia

EARL OF KENT, later disguised as Caius


EDGER, Gloucester's son and heir, later disguised as poor Tom

EDMUND, Gloucester's bastard son

OSWALD, Goneril's steward

A KNIGHT serving King Lear

Lear's fool

CURAN, in Gloucester's household


Three servants

old man, a tenant of Gloucester


A GENTLEMEN attending Cordelia as a Doctor

Two captains


Knights, Gentlemen, Attendants, Servants, Officers, Soldiers, Trumpeters

scene: Britain]

1.1. Location: King Lear's palace.

1 affected favored

2 Albany i.e., Scotland

5-7 equalities . . . moiety the shares balance so equally that close scrutiny cannot find advantage in either's portion.

9 breeding raising, care.   charge expense.

11 brazed hardened

12 conceive understand. (But Gloucester puns in the sense of "become pregnant.")

16 fault (1) sin (2) loss of scent by the hounds.

17 issue (1) result (2) offspring

18 proper (1) excellent (2) handsome.

19 by order of law legitimate

19-20 some year about a year

20-1 account estimation.

21 knave young fellow. (Not said disapprovingly, though the word is ironic.).   something somewhat

24 whoreson low fellow; suggesting bastardy, but (like knave above) used with affectionate condescension

[1.1]  A  Enter Kent, Gloucester, and Edmund.

KENT  I thought the King had more affected the Duke of 1

Albany than Cornwall. 2

GLOUCESTER  It did always seem so to us; but now in

the division of the kingdom it appears not which of

the dukes he values most, for equalities are so weighed 5

that curiosity in neither can make choice of either's   6

moiety. 7

KENT  Is not this your son, my lord?

GLOUCESTER  His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge.   9

I have so often blushed to acknowledge him that now

I am brazed to't. 11

KENT  I cannot conceive you. 12

GLOUCESTER  Sir, this young fellow's mother could;

whereupon she grew round-wombed and had indeed,

sir, a son for her cradle ere she had a husband

for her bed. Do you smell a fault? 16

KENT  I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it  17

being so proper. 18

GLOUCESTER  But I have a son, sir, by order of law, some 19

year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my ac-  20

count. Though this knave came something saucily to  21

the world before he was sent for, yet was his mother

fair, there was good sport at his making, and the

whoreson must be acknowledged.--Do you know this 24

noble gentleman, Edmund?

EDMUND  No, my lord.

GLOUCESTER  My lord of Kent. Remember him hereafter

as my honorable friend.

29 services duty

30 sue petition, beg

31 study deserving strive to be worthy (of your esteem).

32 out i.e., abroad, absent

33.1 Sennet trumpet signal heralding a procession..   one . . . then (This direction is from the Quarto. The coronet is perhaps intended for Cordelia or her betrothed. A coronet signifies nobility below the rank of king.)

34 Attend wait upon, usher ceremoniously

36 we, our (The royal plural; also in lines 37-44, etc.).   darker purpose undeclared intention.

38 fast firm

43 constant . . . publish firm resolve to proclaim

44 several individual

50 Interest of right or title to, possession of

EDMUND  My services to Your Lordship. 29

KENT  I must love you, and sue to know you better. 30

EDMUND  Sir, I shall study deserving. 31

GLOUCESTER  He hath been out nine years, and away 32

he shall again. The King is coming. 33

Sennet. Enter [one bearing a coronet, then] King

Lear, Cornwall, Albany, Goneril, Regan, Cordelia, and attendants.


Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester. 34

GLOUCESTER  I shall, my liege. Exit.


Meantime we shall express our darker purpose. 36

Give me the map there. [He takes a map.] Know that

  we have divided

In three our kingdom; and 'tis our fast intent 38

To shake all cares and business from our age,

Conferring them on younger strengths while we

Unburdened crawl toward death. Our son of


And you, our no less loving son of Albany,

We have this hour a constant will to publish 43

Our daughters' several dowers, that future strife 44

May be prevented now. The princes, France and


Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,

Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn

And here are to be answered. Tell me, my


Since now we will divest us both of rule,

Interest of territory, cares of state-- 50

Which of you shall we say doth love us most,

That we our largest bounty may extend

53 Where . . . challenge where both natural affection and merit claim our bounty as its due.

56 space, and liberty possession of land, and freedom of action

59 found i.e., found himself to be loved

60 breath . . . unable utterance impoverished and speech inadequate.

64 shadowy shady..   champains riched fertile plains

65 plenteous . . . meads abundant rivers bordered with wide meadows

69 that self mettle that same spirited temperament

70 prize . . . worth value myself as her equal (in love for you). (Prize suggests "price.")

71 names . . . love describes my love in action

72 that in that

74 Which . . . possesses which the most delicately sensitive part of my nature can enjoy

75 felicitate made happy

78 ponderous weighty

81 validity value..   pleasure pleasing features

Where nature doth with merit challenge? Goneril, 53

Our eldest born, speak first.


Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter,

Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty, 56

Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare,

No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor;

As much as child e'er loved, or father found; 59

A love that makes breath poor and speech unable. 60

Beyond all manner of so much I love you.

CORDELIA [aside]

What shall Cordelia speak? Love and be silent.

LEAR [indicating on map]

Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,

With shadowy forests and with champains riched, 64

With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads, 65

We make thee lady. To thine and Albany's issue

Be this perpetual.--What says our second daughter,

Our dearest Regan, wife of Cornwall? Speak.


I am made of that self mettle as my sister, 69

And prize me at her worth. In my true heart 70

I find she names my very deed of love; 71

Only she comes too short, that I profess 72

Myself an enemy to all other joys

Which the most precious square of sense possesses, 74

And find I am alone felicitate 75

In your dear Highness' love.

CORDELIA  [aside] Then poor Cordelia!

And yet not so, since I am sure my love's

More ponderous than my tongue. 78


To thee and thine hereditary ever

Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom,

No less in space, validity, and pleasure 81

83 least youngest

84 vines vineyards.   milk pastures (?)

85 be interessed be affiliated, establish a claim, be admitted as to a privilege. draw win

93 bond filial obligation

97 right fit proper and fitting

100 all exclusively, and with all of themselves..   Haply Perhaps, with luck

101 plight pledge in marriage

Than that conferred on Goneril.--Now, our joy,

Although our last and least, to whose young love 83

The vines of France and milk of Burgundy 84

Strive to be interessed, what can you say to draw 85

A third more opulent than your sisters'? Speak.

CORDELIA  Nothing, my lord.

LEAR  Nothing?

CORDELLA  Nothing.


Nothing will come of nothing. Speak again.


Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave

My heart into my mouth. I love Your Majesty

According to my bond, no more nor less. 93


How, how, Cordelia? Mend your speech a little,

Lest you may mar your fortunes.

CORDELIA Good my lord,

You have begot me, bred me, loved me. I

Return those duties back as are right fit, 97

Obey you, love you, and most honor you.

Why have my sisters husbands if they say

They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed, 100

That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry 101

Half my love with him, half my care and duty.

Sure I shall never marry like my sisters,

To love my father all.


But goes thy heart with this?

CORDELIA Ay, my good lord.

LEAR  So young, and so untender?

CORDELIA  So young, my lord, and true.


Let it be so! Thy truth then be thy dower!

110 mysteries secret rites..   Hecate goddess of witchcraft and the moon

111 operation influence..   orbs planets and stars

112 From whom under whose influence

114 Propinquity . . . blood close kinship, and rights and duties entailed in blood ties

116 his this time forth..   Scythian (Scythians were famous in antiquity for savagery.)

117 makes . . . messes makes meals of his children or parents

119 neighbored helped in a neighborly way

120 sometime former

123 set my rest rely wholly. (A phrase from a game of cards, meaning "to stake all.")

124 nursery nursing, care. avoid get out of

125 So . . . peace, as As I hope to rest peacefully in my grave

126 Who stirs? i.e., Jump to it; don't just stand there.

128 digest assimilate, incorporate

129 Let . . . her Let pride, which she calls plain speaking, be her dowry and get her a husband.

131 effects outward shows

132 troop with accompany, serve..   Ourself (The royal "we.")

133 With reservation of reserving to myself the right to be attended by

136 th'addition the honors and prerogatives

137 sway sovereign authority

139 coronet (Perhaps Lear gestures toward this coronet that was to have symbolized Cordelia's dowry and marriage, or hands it to his sons-in-law, or actually attempts to divide it.)

For, by the sacred radiance of the sun,

The mysteries of Hecate and the night, 110

By all the operation of the orbs 111

From whom we do exist and cease to be, 112

Here I disclaim all my paternal care,

Propinquity, and property of blood, 114

And as a stranger to my heart and me

Hold thee from this forever. The barbarous Scythian, 116

Or he that makes his generation messes 117

To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom

Be as well neighbored, pitied, and relieved 119

As thou my sometime daughter.

KENT Good my liege-- 120

LEAR  Peace, Kent!

Come not between the dragon and his wrath.

I loved her most, and thought to set my rest 123

On her kind nursery. [To Cordelia] Hence, and avoid

  my sight!-- 124

So be my grave my peace, as here I give 125

Her father's heart from her. Call France. Who stirs? 126

Call Burgundy. [Exit one.]

Cornwall and Albany,

With my two daughters' dowers digest the third. 128

Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her. 129

I do invest you jointly with my power,

Preeminence, and all the large effects 131

That troop with majesty. Ourself by monthly course, 132

With reservation of an hundred knights 133

By you to be sustained, shall our abode

Make with you by due turns. Only we shall retain

The name and all th'addition to a king. 136

The sway, revenue, execution of the rest, 137

Beloved sons, be yours, which to confirm,

This coronet part between you.

KENT Royal Lear, 139

Whom I have ever honored as my king,

143 Make from Get out of the way of

144 fall strike..   fork barbed head of an arrow

149 To . . . bound Loyalty demands frankness

150 Reserve thy state Retain your royal authority

151 And . . . check and with wise deliberation restrain

152 Answer . . . judgment I wager my life on my judgment that

155 Reverb no hollowness do not reverberate like a hollow drum, insincerely.

156-7 My . . . wage I never regarded my life other than as a pledge to hazard in warfare

158 motive that which prompts me to act.

160 The true . . . eye i.e., the means to enable you to see better. (Blank means "the white center of the target," or, "the true direct aim," as in "point-blank," traveling in a straight line.)

164 vassal i.e., wretch..   Miscreant (Literally, infidel, heretic; hence, villain, rascal.)

Loved as my father, as my master followed,

As my great patron thought on in my prayers--


The bow is bent and drawn. Make from the shaft. 143


Let it fall rather, though the fork invade 144

The region of my heart. Be Kent unmannerly

When Lear is mad. What wouldst thou do, old man?

Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak

When power to flattery bows?

To plainness honor's bound 149

When majesty falls to folly. Reserve thy state, 150

And in thy best consideration check 151

This hideous rashness. Answer my life my judgment, 152

Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least,

Nor are those emptyhearted whose low sounds

Reverb no hollowness.

LEAR   Kent, on thy life, no more. 155


My life I never held but as a pawn 156

To wage against thine enemies, nor fear to lose it, 157

Thy safety being motive.

LEAR   Out of my sight! 158


See better, Lear, and let me still remain

The true blank of thine eye. 160

LEAR  Now, by Apollo--

KENT  Now, by Apollo, King,

Thou swear'st thy gods in vain.

LEAR  Oh, vassal! Miscreant! 164

[Laying his hand on his sword.]

ALBANY, CORNWALL  Dear sir, forbear.


Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow

170 recreant traitor

171 That In that, since

172 strained excessive

173 To . . . power i.e., to block my power to command and judge

174 Which . . . place which neither my temperament nor my office as king

175 Our . . . good my power enacted, demonstrated

180 trunk body

183 Sith Since

187 your . . . approve may your deeds confirm your speeches with their vast claims

190 shape . . . course follow his traditional plainspoken ways.

190.1 Flourish Trumpet fanfare used for the entrance or exit of important persons

193 address address myself

Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift,

Or whilst I can vent clamor from my throat

I'll tell thee thou dost evil.


Hear me, recreant, on thine allegiance hear me! 170

That thou hast sought to make us break our vows, 171

Which we durst never yet, and with strained pride 172

To come betwixt our sentence and our power, 173

Which nor our nature nor our place can bear, 174

Our potency made good, take thy reward. 175

Five days we do allot thee for provision

To shield thee from disasters of the world,

And on the sixth to turn thy hated back

Upon our kingdom. If on the tenth day following

Thy banished trunk be found in our dominions, 180

The moment is thy death. Away! By Jupiter,

This shall not be revoked.

Excerpted from King Lear by William Shakespeare
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Teacher's Guide: King Lear Teacher's Guide

A king foolishly divides his kingdom between his scheming two oldest daughters and estranges himself from the daughter who loves him. So begins this profoundly moving and disturbing tragedy that, perhaps more than any other work in literature, challenges the notion of a coherent and just universe. The king and others pay dearly for their shortcomings–as madness, murder, and the anguish of insight and forgiveness that arrive too late combine to make this an all-embracing tragedy of evil and suffering.

Each Edition Includes:
• Comprehensive explanatory notes
• Vivid introductions and the most up-to-date scholarship
• Clear, modernized spelling and punctuation, enabling contemporary readers to understand the Elizabethan English
• Completely updated, detailed bibliographies and performance histories
• An interpretive essay on film adaptations of the play, along with an extensive filmography

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