King Lear

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

Enter GLOUCESTER and EDMUND the bastard, with lights
GLOUCESTER and EDMUND enter with torches.
Alack, alack, Edmund, I like not this unnatural dealing. When I desire their leave that I might pity him, they took from me the use of mine own house, charged me on pain of their perpetual displeasure neither to speak of him, entreat for him, nor any way sustain him.
Oh, oh, Edmund, I don’t like this monstrous business. When asked the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall if I could take pity on the king and shelter him from the storm, they took my house away from me and ordered me never to talk about him, lobby for him, or support him in any way.
Most savage and unnatural!
That’s uncivilized and unnatural!
Go to, say you nothing. There’s a division betwixt the dukes. And a worse matter than that: I have received a letter this night. 'Tis dangerous to be spoken. I have locked the letter in my closet. These injuries the king now bears will be revenged home. There’s part of a power already footed. We must incline to the king. I will look him and privily relieve him. Go you and maintain talk with the duke, that my charity be not of him perceived. If he ask for me, I am ill and gone to bed. Though I die for it—as no less is threatened me—the king my old master must be relieved. There is some strange thing toward, Edmund. Pray you, be careful.
Oh, be quiet. There’s a feud between the two dukes. And there’s something even worse than that. I got a letter tonight. It’s dangerous to talk about it. I’ve locked it up in my room. The humiliation that the king is suffering now will be revenged thoroughly. Armed forces have already landed. We have to take the king’s side. I’ll look for him and secretly help him. You go and talk to the duke so he won’t notice I’m helping the king. If he asks to see me, tell him I’m sick and went to bed. Even if I have to die—as they threaten—I have to help the king. Strange things are about to happen, Edmund. Please be careful.
This courtesy, forbid thee, shall the duke
Instantly know, and of that letter too.
20This seems a fair deserving, and must draw me
That which my father loses—no less than all.
The younger rises when the old doth fall.
I’ll tell the duke right away that you’re going to see the king, which is forbidden. And I’ll tell him about the letter too. You’ll get what you deserve, and I’ll be rewarded with everything you lose—in other words, all your lands. The young generation rises while the old one falls.
He exits.