King Lear

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 4

page Act 1 Scene 4 Page 10

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Which else were shame, that then necessity
Will call discreet proceeding.
will damage your reputation with them—and under ordinary circumstances it would be unfortunate to have them see you as an ogre. However, this is an extreme situation, and it’s more important to control it than to worry about how you’ll look.

FOOL

200For you know, nuncle,
The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long,
That it’s had it head bit off by it young.
So out went the candle and we were left darkling.

FOOL

You know, uncle,
A sparrow once raised a cuckoo in its nest
Until the cuckoo grew up and bit the sparrow’s head off.
So the candle went out and now we’re all in the dark.

LEAR

Are you our daughter?

LEAR

Are you my daughter?

GONERIL

205Come, sir,
I would you would make use of that good wisdom
Whereof I know you are fraught, and put away
These dispositions that of late transform you
From what you rightly are.

GONERIL

Come on, sir. I know you’re very wise, and I wish you would use some of that wisdom to snap out of this mood you’ve been in lately and be your true self again.

FOOL

210May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse?
Whoop, Jug! I love thee.

FOOL

Even an idiot knows when the normal order has been inverted and the cart is pulling the horse. Whoo-hoo, honey, I love you!

LEAR

Does any here know me? Why, this is not Lear.
Doth Lear walk thus? Speak thus? Where are his eyes?
Either his notion weakens, or his discernings
215Are lethargied. Ha, sleeping or waking?
Sure, ’tis not so.
Who is it that can tell me who I am?

LEAR

Does anyone here know who I am? I’m not Lear. Does Lear walk and talk like this? Where are his eyes? Either his mind is losing its grip or his judgment is screwy.—Hey, am I awake? I don’t think so. Who can tell me who I am?

FOOL

Lear’s shadow.

FOOL

You’re Lear’s shadow.

LEAR

I would learn that. For by the marks
220Of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason,
I should be false persuaded I had daughters.

LEAR

I’d like to find out who I am, since the obvious signs around me wrongly indicate that I’ve got daughters.

FOOL

Which they will make an obedient father.

FOOL

Daughters who can make you obey them.

LEAR

(to GONERIL) Your name, fair gentlewoman?

LEAR

(to GONERIL) What’s your name, my dear lady?