King Lear

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

LEAR

Why no, boy. Nothing can be made out of nothing.

LEAR

Why, no, boy. Nothing can be made out of nothing.

FOOL

(to KENT) Prithee, tell him so much the rent of his land comes to. He will not believe a fool.

FOOL

(to KENT) Please tell him that his income is nothing, now that he’s given his lands away. He won’t believe a fool.

LEAR

A bitter fool.

LEAR

You’re a bitter fool.

FOOL

Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a bitter fool and a sweet fool?

FOOL

Do you know the difference, my boy, between a bitter fool and a sweet one?

LEAR

No, lad. Teach me.

LEAR

No, son. Tell me.

FOOL

125That lord that counseled thee
To give away thy land,
Come place him here by me.
Do thou for him stand.
The sweet and bitter fool
130Will presently appear—
The one in motley here,
The other found out there.

FOOL

Bring here
The gentleman who advised you
To give away your land.
You can stand in his place.
The sweet and bitter fool
Will appear right away.
The sweet fool in a fool’s costume—that’s me.
The bitter one is the other one—that’s you.LEAR

LEAR

Dost thou call me fool, boy?

LEAR

Are you calling me a fool, boy?

FOOL

All thy other titles thou hast given away that thou wast born with.

FOOL

Well, you’ve given away all your other rightful titles. The title of “fool” is the only one left.

KENT

This is not altogether fool, my lord.

Kent

This isn’t entirely a joke, your highness.

FOOL

No, faith, lords and great men will not let me. If I had a monopoly out, they would have part on ’t. And ladies too— they will not let me have all fool to myself; they’ll be snatching. Give me an egg, nuncle, and I’ll give thee two crowns.

FOOL

No. I wish I could be a complete joker—but so many lords and important men are also playing fools that I can’t have a monopoly on it. Ladies too—they’re always snatching away my role as the biggest fool.—Uncle, give me an egg, and I’ll give you two crowns.