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  Act 2 Scene 4

page Act 2 Scene 4 Page 12

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LEAR

Made you my guardians, my depositaries,
But kept a reservation to be followed
With such a number. What, must I come to you
250With five and twenty, Regan? Said you so?

LEAR

I made you de facto rulers of my kingdom on condition that I could keep a hundred knights of my own. Why should I now have to make do with only twenty-five? Regan, is that what you said?

REGAN

And speak ’t again, my lord. No more with me.

REGAN

Yes, I’ll say it again, my lord. No more than twenty-five.

LEAR

Those wicked creatures yet do look well favored
When others are more wicked. Not being the worst
Stands in some rank of praise.
255 (to GONERIL) I’ll go with thee.
Thy fifty yet doth double five and twenty,
And thou art twice her love.

LEAR

Bad people start to look better in comparison with worse people. Not being the worst daughter deserves some praise, I guess. (to GONERIL) I’ll go stay with you, then. Your fifty is twice her twenty-five, so you must love me twice as much as she does.

GONERIL

   Hear me, my lord.
What need you five and twenty, ten, or five
To follow in a house where twice so many
260Have a command to tend you?

GONERIL

Hear me out, my lord. Why do you need twenty-five knights, or ten, or even five, when you’re staying in a house with a staff of double that at your service?

REGAN

     What need one?

REGAN

Why do you need even one?

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. Thou art a lady.
265If only to go warm were gorgeous,
Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear’st,
Which scarcely keeps thee warm. But, for true need—
You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need.
You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,
270As full of grief as age, wretched in both.
If it be you that stir these daughters' hearts
Against their father, fool me not so much
To bear it tamely. Touch me with noble anger.
And let not women’s weapons, water drops,
275Stain my man’s cheeks! No, you unnatural hags,

LEAR

Oh, don’t ask me why I “need” them! Even the poorest beggars have some meager possessions they don’t really “need.” If you allow people no more than what they absolutely need to survive, then a human life is no better than an animal’s. You’re a well-dressed lady. If you dressed only to stay warm, you wouldn’t need these gorgeous clothes you’re wearing—which don’t keep you warm at all. If you want to talk about true needs, what I really need is patience. Oh, gods, give me patience! You see me here, gods, a grieving old man, as wretched in his grief as he is in his old age. If you’re the ones setting my daughters against me, don’t let me be foolish enough to take it lying down. Give me noble anger, and don’t let any womanly tears fall down my