King Lear and Gloucester Quotes

“I have so often blushed to acknowledge him that now I am brazed to’t” Gloucester on Edmund, suggesting that he used to be embarrassed but now he is unashamed of him. (brazed = unashamed)
“Though this knave came somewhat saucily to the world” Suggesting that he was conceived out of wedlock in a sexual situation. Though it is talking about the birth of Edmund in a derogatory manner, while he is around (whether he can hear the conversation is open to interpretation
“There was good sport at his making” Again, here we see that Gloucester is playing a god in saying that he can create life for sport. It is also again derogatory and evokes Edmund’s condition in contempt.
“tis our fast intent to shake all cares and business from our age conferring them on younger age” This line makes clear Lear’s rationale behind dividing the kingdom while his load is still warm. He is in a hurry. Here the word ‘fast’ can also mean ‘first’ and certain scripts have it as such
“While we unburdened crawl towards death” This is a bleak image, yet it is forewarning of the things to come, it is also ironic that despite taking all his cares, lear is still burdened till death, it is also forewarning of his slow death, suggested by the word “crawl”
“that future strife be prevented now” He wants to give his daughters dowries now so that there are no issues later.
“Which of you shall we say doth love us most, That we our largest bounty may extend” Whomever of them loves him most, will get the biggest share of his kingdom
“Dearer than eyesight, space and liberty” Goneril to Lear, claims that he loves him more than her eyes, her lands or her freedom, this shows her manipulative nature.
“What shall Cordelia speak? Love and be silent” Cordelia comments to herself that she doesn’t know what to talk about, and that people should simply love and keep it to themselves there is no need to manifest it in words
“Nothing, my lord” Cordelia’s famous dialogue becomes proverbial in the play, and the word nothing becomes a maxim.
“How, nothing will come of nothing. Speak again” Suggesting that he will give her nothing if that is all she is going to say, and that she will not get anything, his commanding tone asking her to speak again is an order from the king.
“I cannot heave my heart into my mouth. I love your majesty according to my bond, no more no less.” She insists that she cannot manifest her love for him in words. She loves him as much as a daughter must love her daughter, no more no less.
“Mend your speech a little, lest you may mar your fortunes” Asking her to speak something otherwise he may not give her properties, which in turn would reduce her marriage prospects.
“you have begot me, bred me, loved me … Obey you, love you, and most honour you” Suggesting that she is doing her duty and that she does not need to speak to prove how much she loves him.
“So young and so untender?” Lear, does not see the deeper meaning of what his daughter is telling him
“So young, my lord, and true” Cordelia is correcting her father and trying to point out that she is being honest, whereas her sisters are not.
“Come not between the dragon and his wrath!” Lear telling Kent not to stop him from what he is doing. Likening himself to the image of a dragon shows just what Lear things of his authority and power, however, it is hollow, as this does not stop Kent, and he is no longer a dragon
“Royal Lear, whom I have ever honoured, as m king loved as my father, as my master followed” This could be a useful quote to show the old school loyalty that Kent displays towards Lear, it could also be used to highlight the homoerotic part if seen from an oedipal point of view.
“The bow is bent and drawn, make from the shaft” Lear is telling Kent that he is angry (The bow symbolises this) and that he should stop if he wants to avoid the arrow.
“See better Lear, and let me still be the blank thine eyes” Kent says this in response to Lear’s comment asking him to get out of his sight. The blank of the eyes is the centre, and he asks Lear to still turn to him for good advice. Over the course of the play we see that both Lear and Gloucester will learn to ‘see better’ which means that this post is forewarning.
He’ll shape his old course in a country new Could be used to highlight the take in stride character of Kent
“Better thou hadst not been born than not to have pleased me better” We see the fickle nature of Lear, only a few moments ago Cordelia was his dearest daughter, and now he wishes she wasn’t born. This drasticity in his actions is what has led many critics to claim that he is already mad at the start of the play rather than having gone mad through the course of the play. It is these actions that later lead him to say “I did her wrong”
“I know you what you are” This is Cordelia talking to her sisters, and telling them that she is aware about their evil nature
‘Prescribe not us our duties” Regan to Cordelia, she thinks that Cordelia’s farewell words are in fact her trying to prescribe them their duties, she is also projecting her arrogant nature onto Cordelia.
“He always loved our sister most, and with what poor judgement he hath now cast her off appears too grossly” This shows that the sisters are aware of their fathers increasingly fickle nature, and his slow onset of madness. Although they are aware that their sister has been wronged, they do nothing about it
“Why bastard? … when my dimensions are as well compact My mind as generous and my shape as true as honest madams issue” HE is questioning the classification of people within society. And asks why simply his birth must condemn him, for he sees nothing different between himself and Edgar. He is an anti-establishment figure who is eventually defeated.
“Legitimate Edgar, I must have your lands” Committing to the fact that he is going to wage war against Edgar, not because of the person but rather what he stands for in society and what by the rules of society he takes from Edmund
“Edmund the base Shall top the legitimate” Suggesting that although he is the (apparently) ‘base’ person, he will out do his legitimate brother. The use of the word ‘top’ according to Campbell makes sense as it is a word play on the word base, as if base is low, then height suggests that he will be above Edgar, although in society he is lower.
“Now gods, stand up for bastards!” Edmund, is turning his personal pursuit for power and wealth, into a cause of all bastards, thus giving him something to believe in that isn’t really there.
“O villain, villain! His very opinion in that letter” Coleridge calls that letter a “shoddy forgery at best”. This shows us several issues with Gloucester’s fickle character. First of all we see that Gloucester, based merely on one document has condemned his son as a villain. Second of all we see that when a lot of communication was done by written notes and letters, especially in such circles, we see that Gloucester is fooled by the writing
“These late eclipses in the sun and the moon portend no good to us” Shows us the superstitious nature of Gloucester as a person. There were a series of eclipses during and before the year 1605, and Shakespeare could be talking about these. it must be borne in mind that Jacobean society was a lot more superstitious and so such comments in everyday life were not uncommon.
“this is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeits of our own behaviour, we make guilty … the sun, the moon and the stars” Edgar’s comment on his father’s earlier comment (Q31) points out how the superstitions give the old a rock to blame things on and to hold on to, but they are in fact the cause of our own actions
“Pat he comes, like the catastrophe of the old comedy” can be used to point out the comic elements of the play, also helps to support the theory that Edgar replaces the fool. It can be seen that Shakespeare is showing Edmund as constructing his own comedy, and the way that old fashioned comedies worked, there would be a catastrophe in the denouement (final part of a play, film .. ) Ellis also suggests that this is Shakespeare’s own admiration through Edmund of the ecnonoicality of the scene. It is Edmund’s approbation of the scene. However, both Stoll and Knight criticise the dramatic improbability and incredulous nature of the scene.
“Brother, I advise you to the best, go armed.” O the irony!! this comment shows the guileful wiliness with which Edmund operates, and shows us the dangerous duplicity of the character, the endearing trust that he builds up from the audience in the first soliloquy is lost during his show of spinelessness at the end of the study.
“Let me, if not by birth, then have lands by wit” Edmund, says that due to his nature as a bastard, he cannot have lands by birth, so he will be cunning and play his father and brother for them
“Ho I think the world’s asleep” lear is looking for his fool at this stage, he has one knight at his disposal, and Oswald will not listen to his command. No one is listening to the King and so this comment, is especially enlightening of the dwindling authority that the King has.
“My Lady’s father? My lord’s knave, you whoreson dog, you slave, you cur!” Lear says this upon asking Oswald who he is. The fact that he is not identified by him as king angers Lear, and he curses and abuses him, this unkindly behaviour further shows Lear’s struggle for holding onto power and inability to settle into his new role as no one important.
“take my coxcomb” “if thou follow him, thou must need a coxcomb” The coxcomb is the professional hat of a fool, and the fool insisting on handing it out because he claims that the King has been so stupid that if people are still ready to follow him then they must be real fools. The fool’s also the only one who can speak the truth and the harsh truth without being punished, though he does get reprieved occasionally
“did the third a blessing against his will” During marriage the fathers will was key, here the word blessing means marriage, and the fool is the first one to hint at the fact that the king regrets his marriage of Cordelia to France, for now she is gone
“Truth’s a dog that must to kennel; he must be whipped out, when the Lady Brach may stand by the fire and stink” Truth can be difficult,. The lady brach is a reference to Goneril. and the stench is possibly coming from her mouth and referencing all the guileful manipulative stuff that she has said and will say over the course of the rest of the play
“all thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast born with” upon asked whether he is calling the King a fool, the fool tells lear this. Showing us the extent of Lear’s folly, as it means that Lear, technically isn’t even a king.
“Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach thy fools to lie; i would fain learn to lie” The fool is admitting to the fact that he is a bad lier and a good truth teller. He is the bringer of truth, and does not play games with people.
“Does any here know me? Why, this is not Lear. Does lear walk thus, speak thus? Where are his eyes? here we see that Lear might be questioning himself, saying that thisold man is not he. This is suggested by the questions he asks; the walk, speech and eyesight are some of the first things that might alter in old age. The question at the start of the dialogue invokes pity in the readers, as he asks a question which no king should have to ask in his nation. The string of questions suggests his madness, confusion and bewilderment. Looking for his eyes – wisdom and vision is what he needs.
“Your disordered rabble make servants of their betters” We see Goneril here chiding her father about the behaviour of his ‘train’. His old school ways of doing things are being challenged, and his daughters are now challenging him. Being the King he is not used to being challenged.
“what’s the matter, sir?” This quote from Albany in the face of things is vastly inadequate, it shows that he is feigning caring for Lear, when he actually doesn’t. It shows that Albany, like his wife is cut out from a similar cloth.
“striving to better, oft we mar whats well” Albany to Goneril, we see his good character coming out, as we see that he is trying to tell Goneril that in their pursuit for whats better, we should not destroy whats good.
Intelligence is given where you are hid: You have now the good advantage of the night” here we see that Edmund again is seeming to be on Edgar’s side, when in fact he himself has given the evidence.
“Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion of my more fierce endeavour” Edmund cuts his arm to make his ‘confrontation’ with his brother look all the more real. The lengths he is willing to go to lead his father on is seen in this. He is a whole hearted believer in his own cause for bastards
“persuade me to the murder of your lordship, But that I told him the revenging gods ‘Gainst parricide did all their thunders bend” Trying to convince Gloucester the Edgar was trying to persuade him to kill his father, and that he refused. This keeps the ruse up, but also shows us the irony of how Edmund himself is persuasive telling his father that he would never kill him, and yet that is what he ends up doing by proxy so to say.
“O madam my old heart is cracked, it’s cracked.” This is an apt summation of gloucester’s reaction to his younger sons supposed ‘betrayal’. The use of the word old here suggests Shakespeare’s intent in deffrenciating between the older and the younger generation.
“A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly” Kent’s rant at Oswald, is in many ways unwarranted by the current or prior actions of Oswald. he blames them on the cold reception that he is given by Regan and Cornwall. Dramatically Kent’s outburst channels the audience’s emotions at Oswald and his mistress’s faction
“Why what a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail on one that is neither known of thee, now knows thee!” oswald is questioning Kent’s unwarranted actions
“Come I’ll flesh ye; come on, young master” Kent becomes really confrontational and angry, this shows the passion with which he loves lear and his loyal to him. As he is ready to fight whomever is seen as being loyal to the King’s enemies, in essence he is ready to fight younger blood and give his life for the king if need be.
“you cowardly rascal … – a tailor made thee” Suggesting that Oswald is not a ‘man’ and that all the power and authority that he has is only because he wears smart clothes. This echoes the later comment by Lear when he says “Even a Dog’s obeyed in office”
“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.” We see that Kent feels that he can get away with his brash treatment of Regan’s servant because he serves the King. This dialogue is crucial in showing the fact that the King has now lost all authority, as Cornwall calls forth the stocks nonetheless.
Here I stand your slave, a poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man. Self assessing his condition. It is an apt and regretful assessment of his position.
“When brewers mar their malt with water, When nobles are their tailor’s tutors … And bawds and whores do churches build, Then shall the realm of Albion Come to great confusion” The Fool is generally in the play the bringer of great prophecies and truth. Here he points out how the world is turning on its head and this realm of Albion is coming to ruin.
“This prophecy merlin shall make, for I live before his time” Holinshed set his Leir in 6BC and so in that sense the fool does in fact live before Merlin, the legendary sorcerer during the time of King Arthur (who was around in the 8BC)
“The younger rises when the old doth fall” Edmund here is seeming against his father, and does not intend to follow his orders. This line is also keeping in line with the rest of the plays theme. As the old are indeed being usurped by the young. Edmund aims to replace his father
“Didst thou give all to thy two daughters? And art thou come to this?” Here we see that Lear has indeed gone mad, as he is projecting himself on to Poor Tom, who is Edgar in disguise.
have his daughters brought him to this pass? The repetition of the question on the part of Lear adds to the impression that he is indeed going senile.
“Unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare forked animal as thou art” Without our clothes we are nothing but bare animals, they have no where to live and nothing to wear or eat, all this is suggestive of their unaccommodated nature.
Stage directions – [tearing at his clothes, he is restrained by Kent and the Fool] This is conclusive evidence at him being mad, as he has not only projected himself onto Edgar, but also has now identified with him, and simply because Edgar is naked, he feels that he too should get there. This can also be seen as Lear’s humility, as he is willing to associate with a mad beggar, now that he is in the same situation.
“What, hath your race no better company?” This quote shows us Gloucester’s arrogance, and aristocratic air that Lear has all but lost since the scene of the love trial and after the time when he died to reason with his daughters. It also shows that whereas Lear does not recognise what is beneath him but Gloucester does, it is suggestive of the fact that Gloucester is still mentally healthy whereas lear is not.
“Canst thou blame him? His daughters seek his death. Ah, that good Kent, He said it would be thus, poor banished man” We see that Gloucester is showing Lear sympathy. This asking tone towards Kent, also makes the audience question and for a brief second it seems as if he is talking to the audience, this introspective dialogue makes the audience feel even more pity for Lear.
“I will arraign them straight.” “I’lll see their trial first. Bring in their evidence” “Arraign her first, ’tis Goneril – kicked the poor king her father” Here we see that Lear is hell bent on getting justice for what he sees as injustice towards him. This scene in many ways is pathetic, we see that the King is imagining a trial, he is now nobody as he has indeed given his titles away, yet he pretends to be a king. The sorry sight in the forest of an ex-king, a mad man and a fool carrying out a mock trial is arresting and arouses pity in the audience.
“My tears begin to take his part so much they mar my counterfeiting” Edgar is taking on the role of the Fool gradually, as we see that he is now speaking on behalf of the audience. (Their tears would be taking his side too, even if they aren’t counterfeiting)
“One side will mock another – th’ other too” This shows the sadistic and villain like side of Regan
“Because I will not see thy cruel nails pluck out his poor old eyes” This statement shows the amount of loyalty that Gloucester has for his master, for he gives his eyes so that Lear doesn’t loose his.
“O my most dear Gloucester” Goneril with the authority that was granted to her during the love trial, has made Edmund the new Earl of Gloucester, thus conferring the title on him, it also shows that Edmund has achieved his plan of taking his brothers and fathers lands by wit, as with lands come titles.
“Gloucester, I live To thank thee for the love thou showd’st the King and to revenge thine eyes” We see that Albany has gone through a change of heart, and is now on the side of the old and Edgar. He calls his wife a devil and he is indeed against her and her sisters designs, because of the way that they have been treating the old King.

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