King Lear

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

EDMUND

The enemy’s in view. Draw up your powers.
(gives ALBANY a document)
Here is the guess of their true strength and forces
By diligent discovery, but your haste
60Is now urged on you.

EDMUND

The enemy’s in sight. Prepare your troops. (gives ALBANY a document) The reconnaissance operation has returned this estimate of the enemy’s manpower and weaponry. But now, please hurry.

ALBANY

   We will greet the time.

ALBANY

We’ll be ready when the time comes.
Exit ALBANY
He exits.

EDMUND

To both these sisters have I sworn my love,
Each jealous of the other as the stung
Are of the adder. Which of them shall I take?
Both? One? Or neither? Neither can be enjoyed
65If both remain alive. To take the widow
Exasperates, makes mad her sister Goneril,
And hardly shall I carry out my side,
Her husband being alive. Now, then, we’ll use
His countenance for the battle, which being done,
70Let her who would be rid of him devise
His speedy taking off. As for the mercy
Which he intends to Lear and to Cordelia,
The battle done and they within our power,
Shall never see his pardon, for my state
75Stands on me to defend, not to debate.

EDMUND

I’ve sworn my love to both of these sisters. They’re jealous of each other like poisonous snakes. Which one of them should I pick? Both? One? Neither? I can’t enjoy either of them as long as the other one’s alive. Goneril would go crazy if I chose Regan, but it would be hard to get in with Goneril while her husband’s still alive. I’ll use Albany’s power and authority for now to win the war, but afterward one of the sisters—whichever one wants to—can get rid of him. Albany wants to spare Lear and Cordelia, but once they are my prisoners after the battle, they won’t stay alive long enough to see his pardon. I have to defend my position with actions, not words.
Exit
He exits.