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King Lear

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer with thy uncovered body this extremity of the skies.—Is man no more than this? Consider him well.—Thou owest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha! Here’s three on ’s are sophisticated. Thou art the thing itself.
Unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art.—
Off, off, you lendings! Come. Unbutton here. (tears at his clothes)
You’d be better off dead than facing the storm as naked as you are. Is this all a human being is? Look at him. (to EDGAR) You are not indebted to animals for your clothes since don’t wear silk, leather, or wool—not even


Perfume can be made from the secretions of a civet cat.

. Ha! The three of us are sophisticated compared to you. You’re the real thing.
The human being unburdened by the trappings of civilization is no more than a poor, naked, two-legged animal like you.
Off with these clothes borrowed from animals! Let me unbutton this. (he tears at his clothes)
Enter GLOUCESTER with a torch
GLOUCESTER enters with a torch.
Prithee, nuncle, be contented. 'Tis a naughty night to swim in. Now a little fire in a wild field were like an old lecher’s heart—a small spark, all the rest on ’s body cold. Look, here comes a walking fire.
Please calm down, uncle. This is a nasty night to go swimming. On a night like this a campfire in an empty field would be like the heart of a dirty old man—a tiny spark in a cold body. Look, here comes a walking fire.
This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet. He begins at curfew and walks till the first cock. He gives the web and the pin, squints the eye and makes the harelip, mildews the white wheat and hurts the poor creature of earth.
Swithold footed thrice the 'old.
He met the nightmare and her ninefold,
Bid her alight,
And her troth plight.
And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!
This is the devil Flibbertigibbet. He gets up at nightfall and wanders around till dawn. He can make your eyes squint and film over and give you a harelip. He rots ripened wheat and hurts the poor creatures of the earth.
Saint Withold crossed the field three times,
He met a she-demon and her nine kids,
He told her to promise
To stop doing harm.
And go away, witch, go away.
How fares your grace?
How are you, your highness?
(indicating GLOUCESTER) What’s he?
(pointing at GLOUCESTER) Who’s that?
Who’s there? What is ’t you seek?
Who are you? What do you want?