King Lear

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 4

page Act 1 Scene 4 Page 13

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Turn all her mother’s pains and benefits
280To laughter and contempt, that she may feel—
That she may feel
How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is
To have a thankless child.—Away, away!
Let it be a wicked child who mocks the mother who cares for it. Make my daughter feel—make her feel how an ungrateful child hurts worse than a snakebite.—Now let’s leave. Go!
Exeunt LEAR, FOOL, KENT, FIRST KNIGHT and the other attendants
LEAR, the FOOL, KENT, FIRST KNIGHT, and attendant knights exit.

ALBANY

Now gods that we adore, whereof comes this?

ALBANY

Dear gods in heaven, what’s the reason for this?

GONERIL

285Never afflict yourself to know more of it,
But let his disposition have that scope
That dotage gives it.

GONERIL

Don’t even bother to ask the reasons. Just let him rant and rave. He’s senile.
Enter LEAR and FOOL
LEAR enters with the FOOL.

LEAR

What, fifty of my followers at a clap?
Within a fortnight?

LEAR

What, fifty of my knights dismissed all at once? In only two weeks?

ALBANY

290What’s the matter, sir?

ALBANY

What are you talking about, sir?

LEAR

I’ll tell thee.
(to GONERIL) Life and death! I am ashamed
That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus,
That these hot tears which break from me perforce
295Should make thee worth them. Blasts and fogs upon thee!
Th' untented woundings of a father’s curse
Pierce every sense about thee! Old fond eyes,
Beweep this cause again, I’ll pluck ye out

LEAR

I’ll tell you. (to GONERIL) I’m ashamed that you have the power to upset me like this, as though you’re worth the tears you’re making me shed. Damn you! May you feel every pain a father’s curse can bring! If I cry again because of you, I’ll rip my eyes out of their sockets and throw them and their wet tears down to moisten the earth. Has it come to this? Then so be it. I have one more daughter who I’m sure is kind. When