King Lear

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 4

page Act 1 Scene 4 Page 8

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LEAR

What two crowns shall they be?

LEAR

Which two crowns would those be?

FOOL

Why—after I have cut the egg i' th' middle and eat up the meat—the two crowns of the egg. When thou clovest thy crown i' th' middle, and gavest away both parts, thou borest thy ass o' th' back o'er the dirt. Thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown when thou gavest thy golden one away. If I speak like myself in this, let him be whipped that first finds it so.
(sings)
Fools had ne'er less wit in a year,
For wise men are grown foppish.
They know not how their wits to wear,
Their manners are so apish.

FOOL

Well, when I cut the egg in half and eat the whites, the yolk will be in two parts like two golden crowns. When you cut your own crown and kingdom in half and gave away both parts, you were as foolish as the old man in the old story who carries his donkey on his back instead of letting the donkey carry him. You didn’t have much brains inside the bald crown of your head when you gave away the gold crown of your kingdom. If I’m telling the truth like a fool in saying all this, whip the first person who thinks I sound foolish.
(he sings)
Fools have had a hard time this year.
They’ve been displaced by wise men who’ve grown foolish.
These men no longer know how to use their brains,
And they don’t know how to behave except by foolishly imitating others.

LEAR

155When were you wont to be so full of songs, sirrah?

LEAR

When did you become so fond of singing, boy?

FOOL

I have used it, nuncle, ever since thou madest thy daughters thy mothers. For when thou gavest them the rod, and put’st down thine own breeches,
(sings)
Then they for sudden joy did weep
And I for sorrow sung,
That such a king should play bo-peep
And go the fools among.
Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach thy fool to lie. I would fain learn to lie.

FOOL

I’ve been singing ever since you made your daughters into your mothers by giving them all your power. That’s when you gave them the spanking paddle and pulled your pants down,
(he sings)
Then your daughters wept for joy,
And I sang in sadness,
Seeing such a king become
A child and a fool.
Please, uncle, hire a teacher who can teach your fool to lie. I want to learn how to lie.

LEAR

An you lie, sirrah, we’ll have you whipped.

LEAR

If you lie, boy, we’ll have you whipped.