King Lear Quotes (IB Paper 2)

LEAR. Nothing will come of nothing. Speak again. The two daughters who end up getting the entire kingdom by professing their deep love for their father actually have no feeling for him at all. They feel “nothing” and their words are empty words. Throughout the rest of the play Lear discovers that there was nothing behind their professions of love for him. Variation on the famous phrase “ex nihilo nihil fit”. It’s the opposite of the biblical notion that God created the world (which is a whole lot of something) out of nothing
LEAR. A poor, infirm, weak, And despised old man Thrown out of doors by his own daughters, the anguished Lear cries upon the storming heavens to execute justice, since he is now powerless to do so. Having ceded his authority, and been betrayed for it, the king comes to realize that he is but a “poor, infirm, weak, and despis’d old man”
GLOUCESTER. As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods Perhaps the most desperate lines in a desperate play, the Duke of Gloucester’s speech culminates scene after scene of abject cruelty and senseless brutality. It refers to our mindless predisposition to inflict pain and suffering on whatever falls into our clutches; and to our fate to be receivers of the same at the hands of mere passing chance. It basically means we are all subject to powers far greater than ourselves.
LEAR. Blow winds, and crack your cheeks. Rage! Blow! Themes: Madness, StormLiterary devices: There are a couple of layers to meaning in the lines that help to establish the second scene of the Third Act. The reality that has dawned upon Lear is that he is no longer the power broker that he once saw himself to be. Rather, he is a political tool being manipulated by his two daughters as they seek to “rage” and ravage through his political empire.
LEAR. Every inch a king “Every inch a king” is ironically taken at face value nowadays, without the bitter incongruity of the original context. As the blinded and spurned Duke of Gloucester encounters the ragged and spurned King Lear, the two men stage a pathetic reunion. Gloucester, able to recognise Lear only by his voice, cannot see that Lear has crowned himself with weeds. Lear, insane, has regressed into delusions of omnipotence. When Lear madly declares himself “every inch a king,” he states what may be factually accurate, but what is in dramatic terms a lie. We have watched the king slowly degenerate after being stripped of power and dignity by his wicked daughters, and we have heard Lear himself denigrate the pomp of kingship.
LEAR. How Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth It Is To Have A Thankless Child Senses: Touch. SightShakespeare uses metaphor and hyperbole to compare the sting of his daughter’s betrayal to getting bit by a serpent, an image closely associated with evil. Comparing his daughter to a serpent is another example of animal imagery,.
LEAR. I am a very foolish fond old man […] I fear I am not in my perfect mind. Shakespeare uses meiosis to create humor. It is painfully obvious that Lear has gone completely mad. His response that “I fear I am not in my perfect mind” is an understatement. The irony is that Lear recognizes the errors of his ways and sees things as they are during his insanity.
GLOUCESTER. I Stumbled When I Saw. Theme: Blindness and
LEAR. Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,And thou no breath at all?
LEAR. More sinned against, than Sinning Theme: GuiltNow a proverb in English. In this pathetic moment, Lear exemplifies in the extreme a possessive parent with ungrateful children, as he chalks up their transgressions on a cosmic balance sheet. The storm seems a manifestation of his fury, and—still clinging to the royal imperative—Lear commands it to strike where he, being weak, cannot.
LEAR. O Fool, I Shall Go Mad
LEAR. Poor naked wretches Lear’s description suggests remorse at not taking better care of his subjects when he had the chance. The scene is also symbolic of the damage done to Britain’s citizens on account of the turmoil caused by Lear handing his kingdom to unworthy heirs.One of the major themes of the play is the inability to see things for what they are. The tragedy of King Lear is caused by his inability to recognize reality: Lear falsely believes that he can abdicate responsibility without negative consequences. At this point in the play, Lear recognizes the plight of the poor in his kingdom and regrets not having done more to help them. At last, Lear recognizes his past folly, but it’s too late.
EDGAR. The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices. Make instruments to plague us. Edgar recognizes the vices in men and understands how those vices haunt men. He realizes Lear’s foolishness, anger and pride and certainly recognizes Gloucester’s adultery as the cause of many of his problems.
EDMUND. The Wheel Is Come Full Circle; I am here. This saying is not infrequently heard as a synonym for “we’re right back where we started,” or whenever, after a passage of time or events, we are faced with a similar set of conditions or circumstances. It may also mean that the roles of two persons are reversed but in a similar set of circumstances. In the play, the sons of the Earl of Gloucester, two half-brothers, are at odds with each other.
CORDELIA. My love’s more richer than my tongue. Theme: HonestyCordelia clearly loves her father, and yet realizes that her honesty will not please him. Her nature is too good to allow even the slightest deviation from her morals. An impressive speech similar to her sisters’ would have prevented much tragedy, but Shakespeare has crafted Cordelia such that she could never consider such an act. Later in the play Cordelia, now banished for her honesty, still loves her father and displays great compassion and grief for him as we see in the following.
FOOL. Have more than thou showest, speak less than thou knowest, lend less than thou owest. Suggests that it is best to be judicious or sensible when it comes to dealing with others in life relationships. 1. Have more than thou showest: Sometimes it is wise not to reveal to others all that you have. You have to know who you are dealing with and what their motives are. Also, when we show all that we have, it is sometimes looked upon as being “showy”. This can invite the jealousy of others.2. speak less than thou knowest: It doesn’t have to be physical things. In speech, we can flaunt our great knowledge of and expertise in a subject, sometimes it is better to withhold a bit of what we know so others are not intimidated by this. In addition, when we speak loosely, revealing all, we may lose an advantage that we may have in a touchy situation, or a business situation. 3. lend less than thou owest: Here, it is a financial principle being spoken of. It is saying to take money in in greater quantity, as opposed to giving significant sums out. This is open to debate, but it is part of the King Lear story here. Not all would subscribe to this principle in contemporary society
LEAR. When we are born, we cry that we are come To this great stage of fools. Wheel of fortune/Great Circle of LifeLear laments his fate. Instead of Lear condemning fate, perhaps he should take personal responsibility for his situation. It is Lear who chooses to abdicate his responsibility as king. It is Lear who chooses to disown his only loyal daughter. It is Lear who chooses to banish his most loyal servant. It is Lear’s choices that bring about his downfall, not fate.
Reason in madness!
EDMUND. I grow; I prosper; / Now, gods, stand up for bastards
LEAR. while we / Unburthen’d crawl toward death. Use of the royal ‘we’. Demonstrates that Lear’s expectations about life in retirement are unrealistics. He wants to regian the untroubled life of a second childhood, yet he does not want to relinquish the authority and reprect that he has become accustomed to as a king.
GONRIEL. He always loved our sister most; and with what poor judgment he hath now cast her off appears too grossly Cordelia sees the gross flattery of her sisters as hollow and degrading, true expressions of love best delivered in a private not a public forum. This fact does not need to be stated verbally and put up for comparison with her sisters’ relationship with their father.
GONRIEL. Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself
GONRIEL. Milk-liver’d man. In opposing the threat posed by the French forces at Dover, Goneril’s wealth and influence are needed. She abandons all obedience to her husband. . She appears to be attracted to Edgar because he represents the raw desire and unapologetic quest for power she seems to now find so thrilling.
KENT. I have a journey, sir, shortly to go; / My master calls me, I must not say no Kent and Edgar demonstrate their nobility in their actions, just as the lowly servant of Cornwall performs a noble act of courage in opposing his master and dying in defense of the helpless Gloucester.Kent’s final words in the play pose a mystery. Is Kent referring to Lear or God, his earthly or spiritual “master”? Perhaps the play means to suggest that the distinction doesn’t matter, that in serving one, one serves the other.
LEAR. Come, let’s away to prison;We two alone will sing like birds I’ th’ cage. Theme: GuiltHe is sane enough to know his own guilt, however: “I’ll kneel down and ask of thee forgiveness.” Cordelia is subsequently killed, and the mad Lear dies as well.These words reflect Lear’s central trait throughout the play: he is in denial of reality at every turn. Even now, in his madness and defeat he cannot face the political inevitability that neither he nor his daughter is likely to be spared.
LEAR. Every inch a king. Theme: Greatness”Every inch a king” is ironically taken at face value nowadays, without the bitter incongruity of the original context. As the blinded and spurned Gloucester encounters King Lear, the two men stage a pathetic reunion. Gloucester, able to recognize Lear only by his voice, cannot see that Lear has crowned himself with weeds. Lear, insane, has regressed into delusions of omnipotence. When Lear madly declares himself “every inch a king,” he states what may be factually accurate, but what is in dramatic terms a lie. We have watched the king slowly degenerate after being stripped of power and dignity by his wicked daughters, and we have heard Lear himself denigrate the pomp of kingship.
LEAR. If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes.[…] Thou must be patient; we came crying hither:
LEAR. Dog hearted daughters
LEAR. O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars / Are in the poorest thing superfluous. / Allow not nature more than nature needs, / Man’s life’s as cheap as beast’s Lear responds to his daughter’s plea to rid himself of his knights on the grounds that he doesn’t need them. Lear’s response that to limit individuals to only their needs reduces them to mere beasts shows keen insight on what makes humans human and the importance of the individual’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. King Lear’s eyes are opened later in the play as he wanders without shelter and expresses regret over not treating the poor and homeless better when he was king.
CORDELIA. The holy water from her heavenly eyes.
CORDELIA. Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave / My heart into my mouth. I love your majesty / According to my bond; no more nor less. Cordelia proves that politics may not be for her. Her choice to answer honestly gets her banished and gets her inheritance revoked. Cordelia’s profession of love is ironic insomuch that she is the only one of the three sisters to speak the truth and that she loves the King the most. Her honesty impresses the King of France enough to become his wife. This incident also demonstrates Lear’s inability to see things as they are.
GONRIEL. I love you […] dearer than eyesight, space and liberty.
LEAR. I think this lady, to be my child Cordelia Lear is showing mental healing. His mental blindness is being ‘healed’
EDGAR. Reason in madness Reference to King Lear and ‘Mad Old Tom’
GENTLEMAN. A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch, past speaking in a King.
GENTLEMAN. Thou hast a daughter, who redeems nature from the general curse.
GLOUCESTER. ‘Tis the time’s plague when madmen lead the blind. Talking about the chaos of the world. It is ironic that he describes this using a reference to mad Lear and blind Gloucester.
LEAR to REGAN. Age is unnecessary.
ALBANY to EDMUND. Edmund, I arrest thee / On capital treason. Looking at the rightful order.
LEAR to EDGAR. Hast thou given all to thy daughters? / And art thou come to this? Lear’s world is centred around himself. He thinks that the only was someone could stoop to his ‘low level’ is by experiencing the same thing.
KENT. He hath no daughters, sir. Kent gives Lear a scoop of reality and although he can see Lear’s madness, he is always faithful and dedicated to Lear.
CORDELIA. I love your majesty according to my bond; No more nor less
EDMUND. Now, gods, stand up for bastards
GLOUCESTER. He cannot be such a monster.
EDGAR. I grow; I prosper.
LEAR about GONRIEL. Into her womb convey sterility.
LEAR. Pray, do not mock me. I am a foolish, fond, old man. Pathos
LEAR. Thou serv’st me and I’ll love thee. Theme: Loyalty.Lear speaks to Kent.
LEAR. Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life, and thou no breath at all? Lear agonizes over the death of Cordelia. As he looks upon her he hallucinates that she has returned to life, a final moment of comfort before he dies.
LEAR. We shall express our darker purpose. Here, King Lear says he wants to divide his kingdom into three parts. But, anyone who’s seen the play Henry IV Part 1 and remembers the rebels’ plans to divide Britain into three territories knows that this is a big no-no.History: Although the play is set in ancient Britain, Lear’s division of the kingdom would have had some contemporary resonance. Around the time the play was written, King James I of England (a.k.a. King James VI of Scotland) attempted to unite England and Scotland under his rule when he was crowned King of England in 1603 so, the very idea of the division of Britain would have been troubling to Shakespeare’s contemporaries
LEAR. We will divest us both of rule […] Which of you shall we say doth love us most? Themes: BlindnessAccording to an earlier conversation between Gloucester and Kent, King Lear has already decided how he’ll divide his kingdom among his daughters. So, what’s the point of Lear staging a love test to determine which woman will get the “largest bounty” (piece of land)? We might say there is no point—King Lear just wants his daughters to flatter him. Here, we see Lear isn’t really interested in knowing who truly loves him most, he wants his daughters to express their feelings for him in a very public way.
LEAR. Out of my sight. Themes: IronyLear tells Cordelia to get out of his sight, but he metaphorically has no sight. This is indicative of the ironic nature of his blindness and foreshadows his gradual decline into complete madness.
LEAR. Better thou hadst never been born that not to have pleased be better. Lear speaks to Cordelia after her statement about nothing. His harsh language reflects the fact that he is upset with her.
LEAR. Does anyone know me here? Loss of the royal ‘we’ – Lear’s last cry of hope. He wonders if anyone knows him anymore.
LEAR. I am even. The natural fool of fortune. Theme: Natural Order/LawLear feels he is born to be (i.e. natural) the sport/plaything of fate, no longer in control of his life. Fate (fortune) is in charge and is playing with his life.
LEAR. Create her a child of spleen. Lear says this about Gonriel. The reference to children suggests that Lear wants her to suffer in the same way has he did thanks to her and Regan.
LEAR. This tempest in my mind […] will not give me leave to ponder. He becomes aware of his madness, but also realises that there is very little he can do about it.
EDMUND. The younger rises when the old doth fall. Themes: Old Age, Young vs Old(Act Three) Edmund speaks these words just before he goes to betray his father. Shakespeare is dramatising a supreme fact of life – each generation is followed by the next which will inevitably assume all its power and property. Both old men die in the end, showing the Circle of Life
EDMUND. Thou Nature, art my goddess. To thy law my services are bound. Edmund shares a similar view of the world as the main ‘good’ characters. He believes that people who want something can have it as long as they have the ability to take it. For Edmund, this means that the rules of legitimacy are manmade rather than natural and so can be changed/manipulated.
LEAR. Come not between the dragon and his wrath. Sense: sightThe image of Lear as a dragon highlights his hot temper. Shakespeare uses animal imagery to represent beastly characteristics of his characters. It also serves as a warning to Kent and foreshadows Kent’s expulsion from the kingdom. The use of the dragon image provides evidence of Lear’s madness and his inability to control his emotions.
EDGAR. The weight of this sad time we must obey […] The oldest hath borne most: we that are young. Shall never see so much, nor live so long. Edgar comments on the horrific nature of recent events, understanding that Kent will most likely die and that although he will live, he will never see anything as tragic as what happens to Lear or Gloucester, his father.

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