King Lear

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 1

page Act 1 Scene 1 Page 12

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CORDELIA

The jewels of our father, with washed eyes
Cordelia leaves you. I know you what you are,
And like a sister am most loath to call
280Your faults as they are named. Love well our father.
To your professèd bosoms I commit him.
But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,
I would prefer him to a better place.
So farewell to you both.

CORDELIA

Sisters, you whom our father loves so dearly, I leave you now with tears in my eyes. I know you for what you really are, but as your sister I’m reluctant to criticize you. Take good care of our father and show him the love that you have professed. I leave him in your care—but oh, if only I were still in his favor I could arrange for better care for him. Goodbye to you both.

REGAN

285Prescribe not us our duty.

REGAN

Don’t tell us what our duty is.

GONERIL

   Let your study
Be to content your lord, who hath received you
At fortune’s alms. You have obedience scanted,
And well are worth the want that you have wanted.

GONERIL

You should focus instead on pleasing your husband, who’s taken you in as an act of charity. You’ve failed to obey your father and you deserve to be deprived of everything that’s been taken away from you.

CORDELIA

Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides,
290Who covers faults at last with shame derides.
Well may you prosper.

CORDELIA

Time will tell what you’ve got up your sleeve. You can be deceitful in the short term, but eventually truth will come out. Have a good life.

FRANCE

Come, my fair Cordelia.

FRANCE

Come with me, my dear Cordelia.
Exeunt FRANCE and CORDELIA
FRANCE and CORDELIA exit.

GONERIL

Sister, it is not a little I have to say of what most nearly appertains to us both. I think our father will hence tonight.

GONERIL

Sister, I have a lot to say about things that concern us both. I think that our father will leave here tonight.

REGAN

295That’s most certain, and with you. Next month with us.

REGAN

Yes, I’m sure he will—to stay with you. Next month he’ll stay with us.

GONERIL

You see how full of changes his age is. The observation we have made of it hath not been little. He always loved our sister most, and with what poor judgment he hath now cast her off appears too grossly.

GONERIL

He’s so flighty in his old age, as we keep noticing. He has always loved Cordelia best, and his bad judgment in disowning her now is obvious.