King Lear Important Quotes and Summaries

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Act I, sc. i:
quote: “Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor; Most choice, forsaken; and most loved, despised!” speaker: King of France to Cordelia
analysis: King Lear has disowned his youngest daughter because she did not express in words how much she loved him. When Burgundy and the King of France come to claim her as their love, Lear tells the she is worthless, and ask if they still would want her, Burgundy doesn't but the King of France does. Act I, sc. ii:

quote: “Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law My services are bound. Wherefore should I Stand in the plague of custom, and permit The curiosity of nations to deprive me, For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines Lag of a brother? Why bastard? wherefore base? … Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land. Our father’s love is to the bastard Edmund As to the legitimate. Fine word—“legitimate”! Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed, And my invention thrive, Edmund the base Shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper. Now, gods, stand up for bastards!” speaker: Edmund soliloquy

analysis: Edmund is devising a plan to make his father turn on the true heir of the land, Edgar. He wants the land to himself.
Act I, sc. iv:
quote: “I would learn that; for, by the marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, I should be false persuaded I had daughters.” speaker: King Lear to Goneril
analysis: Lear's daughters are turning against him. He was residing with his daughter Goneril doesn't like the fact the Lear has 100 knights parading around him, that Lear is acting like he is still in charge, though retired, and she makes her thoughts known to him. He can't believe that he thought he had daughters who loved him.

Act II, sc. i:
quote: “The duke be here to-night? The better! Best! This weaves itself perforce into my business. My father hath set guard to take my brother; And I have one thing, of a queasy question, Which I must act: briefness and fortune, work! Brother, a word; descend: brother, I say!” speaker: Edmund

analysis: Edmund hears Regan and Cornwall will be coming, and is excited that he can add them to his plan to get rid of Edgar.

Act II, sc. ii:
quote: “Let me beseech your grace not to do so: His fault is much, and the good king his master Will cheque him for 't: your purposed low correction Is such as basest and contemned'st wretches For pilferings and most common trespasses Are punish'd with: the king must take it ill, That he's so slightly valued in his messenger, Should have him thus restrain'd.” speaker: Gloucester

analysis: Kent is being punished for attacked Oswald. He is loyal to Lear, and to be put into one of Lear's own humiliating devices seems fit for punishment. Gloucester does not think it is right to use this form of punishment, and here he is objecting to it, but the others agree it is fit. Act II, sc. iv:

quote: “I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad: I will not trouble thee, my child; farewell: We'll no more meet, no more see one another: But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter; Or rather a disease that's in my flesh, Which I must needs call mine: thou art a boil, A plague-sore, an embossed carbuncle, In my corrupted blood. But I'll not chide thee; Let shame come when it will, I do not call it: I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot, Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove: Mend when thou canst; be better at thy leisure: I can be patient; I can stay with Regan, I and my hundred knights.” speaker: King Lear to Goneril

analysis: Lear is starting to see how his daughters have betrayed him, but doesn't want to believe it. He is in shock, and when Goneril denies him the right to stay with her, he believes Regan will allow him and his hundred knights to stay with her, though she refuses. He doesn't understand what is going on and why he deserves this.

Act III, sc. ii:
quote: “My wits begin to...
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