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  Act 4 Scene 1

page Act 4 Scene 1 Page 11

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Re-enter Attendant, with a glass
The attendant reenters with a mirror.
280Give me the glass, and therein will I read.
No deeper wrinkles yet? hath sorrow struck
So many blows upon this face of mine,
And made no deeper wounds? O flattering glass,
Like to my followers in prosperity,
285Thou dost beguile me! Was this face the face
That every day under his household roof
Did keep ten thousand men? was this the face
That, like the sun, did make beholders wink?
Was this the face that faced so many follies,
290And was at last out-faced by Bolingbroke?
A brittle glory shineth in this face:
As brittle as the glory is the face;
Give me the mirror, and I’ll read what’s on my face. No deeper wrinkles yet? Could I endure so many sorrows without them appearing on my face? Oh flattering mirror, you are lying to me just like my followers did during happier times. Was this the same man who once kept ten thousand men in his employ? Was this the face that made men lower their gaze, as if they were looking into the sun? Was this the same face that endured so many challenges until it was defeated by Bolingbroke? There’s a fragile glory in this face, and it’s a face as fragile as glory.
Dashes the glass against the ground
He throws the mirror on the ground.
For there it is, crack’d in a hundred shivers.
Mark, silent king, the moral of this sport,
295How soon my sorrow hath destroy’d my face.
Look, there it is in a hundred pieces. Pay attention, king, to what this means. Sorrow has so quickly destroyed my face.


The shadow of your sorrow hath destroy’d
The shadow or your face.


It’s only the outward gloom of your sorrow that has destroyed the appearance of your face.


Say that again.
The shadow of my sorrow! ha! let’s see:
300’Tis very true, my grief lies all within;
And these external manners of laments
Are merely shadows to the unseen grief
That swells with silence in the tortured soul;
There lies the substance: and I thank thee, king,
305For thy great bounty, that not only givest
Me cause to wail but teachest me the way
How to lament the cause. I’ll beg one boon,
And then be gone and trouble you no more.
Shall I obtain it?


Say that again. The outward gloom of my sorrow! Ha! Let’s see. It’s true that my grief is inside me and that anything I say or do to indicate my grief is just the outward reflection of what’s inside. Thank you, king, for being so kind as to not only give me reason to grieve but also to teach me how to show my grief. I’ll beg one favor, and then I’ll go away and no longer bother you. Will you give it to me?

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