King Lear

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

Enter GLOUCESTER, LEAR, KENT disguised, FOOL, and EDGAR disguised
GLOUCESTER enters with LEAR, the FOOL, and KENT and EDGAR, both in disguise.

GLOUCESTER

Here is better than the open air. Take it thankfully. I will piece out the comfort with what addition I can. I will not be long from you.

GLOUCESTER

It’s better here than outside. Be happy about it. I’ll do what I can to make you even more comfortable. I won’t be gone long.

KENT

All the power of his wits have given way to his impatience.
5The gods reward your kindness!

KENT

He can’t bear his grief and so he’s losing his mind. May God reward you for your kindness!
Exit GLOUCESTER
GLOUCESTER exits.

EDGAR

Frateretto calls me and tells me Nero is an angler in the lake of darkness. Pray, innocent, and beware the foul fiend.

EDGAR

The devil Frateretto is telling me that the diabolical Roman emperor

Nero

Nero was a first-century A.D. Roman emperor who, according to legend, played the fiddle while Rome burned.

Nero
likes to go fishing in hell. Pray to the gods, you fool, and beware the foul devil.

FOOL

Prithee, nuncle, tell me whether a madman be a gentleman or a yeoman?

FOOL

Here’s a riddle, uncle. Is the lunatic a gentleman or an ordinary guy?

LEAR

10A king, a king!

LEAR

He’s a king, a king!

FOOL

No, he’s a yeoman that has a gentleman to his son, for he’s a mad yeoman that sees his son a gentleman before him.

FOOL

No, he’s an ordinary guy who ’s got a gentleman for a son, since someone would have to be crazy to let his son become a gentleman before he’s achieved that distinction himself.

LEAR

To have a thousand with red burning spits
Come hissing in upon 'em!

LEAR

I see Regan and Goneril in hell—A thousand hissing devils with sizzling red pitchforks come up to them!

EDGAR

15The foul fiend bites my back.

EDGAR

The nasty devil’s biting my butt.