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King Lear

King Lear Translation Act 4, Scene 6

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Enter GLOUCESTER, and EDGAR disguised in peasant clothing

GLOUCESTER

When shall we come to th' top of that same hill?

GLOUCESTER

When will we come to the top of that cliff?

EDGAR

You do climb up it now. Look how we labor.

EDGAR

You're climbing up it now. See how we sweat and pant?

GLOUCESTER

Methinks the ground is even.

GLOUCESTER

The ground seems flat to me.

EDGAR

Horrible steep.Hark, do you hear the sea?

EDGAR

It's horribly steep. Listen, do you hear the sea?

GLOUCESTER

No, truly.

GLOUCESTER

No, to be honest.

EDGAR

Why then, your other senses grow imperfectBy your eyes' anguish.

EDGAR

Well then, your other senses must have been injured by the trauma of losing your eyes.

GLOUCESTER

So may it be indeed.Methinks thy voice is altered, and thou speak’stIn better phrase and matter than thou didst.

GLOUCESTER

It might be so. It seems that your voice has changed, and you speak more eloquently than you did before.

EDGAR

You’re much deceived. In nothing am I changedBut in my garments.

EDGAR

You're mistaken. The only thing I've changed is my clothes.

GLOUCESTER

Methinks you’re better spoken.

GLOUCESTER

I think you're speak better now.

EDGAR

Come on, sir. Here’s the place. Stand still. How fearful And dizzy ’tis to cast one’s eyes so low! The crows and choughs that wing the midway air Show scarce so gross as beetles. Halfway down Hangs one that gathers samphire—dreadful trade! Methinks he seems no bigger than his head. The fishermen that walk upon the beach Appear like mice. And yon tall anchoring bark, Diminished to her cock, her cock a buoy Almost too small for sight. The murmuring surge That on th' unnumbered idle pebbles chafes Cannot be heard so high. I’ll look no more Lest my brain turn and the deficient sight Topple down headlong.

EDGAR

Come on, sir. Here's the place. Stand still. How terrifying and dizzying it is to look down so far! The crows and jackdaws flying below look smaller than beetles. Halfway down there's someone clinging to the cliff and gathering herbs—what a dreadful job! He looks tiny to me from up here. The fishermen walking on the beach below look like mice. And that tall ship anchored over there seems as small as its lifeboat, and its lifeboat seems as small as a tiny buoy that's almost too small to see. You can't even hear the waves crashing against the rocks from up here. I can't look anymore, or else my head will spin and I'll fall headfirst from the edge.

GLOUCESTER

Set me where you stand.

GLOUCESTER

Lead me to where you stand.

EDGAR

Give me your hand. You are now within a footOf th' extreme verge. For all beneath the moonWould I not leap upright.

EDGAR

Give me your hand. You're now within a foot of the extreme edge. I wouldn't jump up and down here for anything under the sun.

GLOUCESTER

Let go my hand. [gives EDGAR another purse] Here, friend, ’s another purse, in it a jewel Well worth a poor man’s taking. Fairies and gods Prosper it with thee! Go thou farther off. Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.

GLOUCESTER

Let go of my hand. [He gives EDGAR another purse] Here, friend, here's another purse, and in it there's a jewel any poor man would be glad to have. May the fairies and gods make your wealth increase! Go further away from here. Bid me farewell, and let me hear you leaving.

EDGAR

Now fare you well, good sir.

EDGAR

Now farewell, good sir.

GLOUCESTER

With all my heart.

GLOUCESTER

With all my heart.

EDGAR moves aside

EDGAR

[aside] Why I do trifle thus with his despairIs done to cure it.

EDGAR

[To himself] I'm toying with his despair to try and cure him of it.

GLOUCESTER

O you mighty gods, [kneels] This world I do renounce, and in your sights Shake patiently my great affliction off. If I could bear it longer and not fall To quarrel with your great opposeless wills, My snuff and loathèd part of nature should Burn itself out. If Edgar live, O, bless him!— Now, fellow, fare thee well. (falls)

GLOUCESTER

Oh you mighty gods! [He kneels] I renounce this world, and in your sight, I shake off my great troubles and afflictions. If I could bear my troubles any longer—and not rebel against your inevitable will—then my useless life would end up burning itself out. If Edgar lives, then bless him! 

[To EDGAR] Now, fellow, farewell. [He falls]

EDGAR

Gone, sir. Farewell. [aside] And yet I know not how conceit may rob The treasury of life when life itself Yields to the theft. Had he been where he thought, By this had thought been past. Alive or dead?— Ho you, sir, friend! Hear you, sir? Speak.— Thus might he pass indeed. Yet he revives.— What are you, sir?

EDGAR

Gone, sir. Farewell. 

[To himself] I don't know whether a man's imagination can kill him, especially if he's so willing to die. If he had been where he thought he was, he'd be dead by now. But is he alive or dead? 

[To GLOUCESTER, disguising his voice] Hey you, sir, friend! Can you hear me, sir? Speak. 

[To himself] Maybe he died after all. But he's waking up. 

[To GLOUCESTER, disguising his voice] Who are you, sir?

GLOUCESTER

Away, and let me die.

GLOUCESTER

Go away, and let me die.

EDGAR

Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air, So many fathom down precipitating, Thou’dst shivered like an egg. But thou dost breathe, Hast heavy substance, bleed’st not, speak’st, art sound. Ten masts at each make not the altitude Which thou hast perpendicularly fell. Thy life’s a miracle. Speak yet again.

EDGAR

Even if you were made of only thread, feathers, and air, you should've shattered like an egg after falling as far as you did. But you're breathing; your flesh is solid; you're not bleeding; you can speak. You are unbroken. Ten ship masts laying end to end couldn't measure the height you just fell from. Your life is a miracle. Speak again.

GLOUCESTER

But have I fall'n, or no?

GLOUCESTER

But have I fallen or not?

EDGAR

From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.Look up a-height. The shrill-gorged lark so farCannot be seen or heard. Do but look up.

EDGAR

You fell from the dreadful top of this chalky cliff. Look up at the height. The shrill-sounding lark up there can't be seen or heard. Just look up.

GLOUCESTER

Alack, I have no eyes. Is wretchedness deprived that benefit, To end itself by death? 'Twas yet some comfort When misery could beguile the tyrant’s rage And frustrate his proud will.

GLOUCESTER

Alas, I have no eyes. Are wretched men now not even allowed to kill themselves? It used to be some small comfort when someone in misery could cheat death's plan and frustrate its proud will.

EDGAR

Give me your arm. Up—so. How is ’t? Feel you your legs? You stand.

EDGAR

Give me your arm. Up—there you go. How do you feel? Can you feel your legs? You're standing.

GLOUCESTER

Too well, too well.

GLOUCESTER

Too well, too well.

EDGAR

This is above all strangeness.Upon the crown o' th' cliff, what thing was thatWhich parted from you?

EDGAR

This is stranger than strange. When you were up on the edge of the cliff, what was that thing I saw leaving you?

GLOUCESTER

A poor unfortunate beggar.

GLOUCESTER

A poor unfortunate beggar.

EDGAR

As I stood here below, methought his eyes Were two full moons. He had a thousand noses, Horns whelked and waved like the enragèd sea. It was some fiend. Therefore, thou happy father, Think that the clearest gods, who make them honors Of men’s impossibilities, have preserved thee.

EDGAR

From down here it looked like his eyes were two full moons. He had a thousand noses, and horns twisted and wavy like a stormy sea. It was some devil. You fortunate old man, you must realize that the purest gods have saved your life. They perform miracles like this to win the respect and worship of humans.

GLOUCESTER

I do remember now. Henceforth I’ll bear Affliction till it do cry out itself, “Enough, enough,” and die. That thing you speak of, I took it for a man. Often ’twould say, “The fiend, the fiend!” He led me to that place.

GLOUCESTER

I remember now. From now on, I'll bear my misery until the misery itself cries out, "Enough, enough!" and dies. That devil you speak of—I thought it was a man. He would often say, "The devil, the devil!" He led me to that place.

EDGAR

Bear free and patient thoughts.

EDGAR

Think carefree and peaceful thoughts.

Enter LEAR, mad

But who comes here?The safer sense will ne'er accommodateHis master thus.

But who's that coming? A sane mind would never let its master dress like this.

LEAR

No, they cannot touch me for coining. I am the king himself.

LEAR

No, they can't punish me for counterfeiting coins. I am the king himself.

EDGAR

[aside] O thou side-piercing sight!

EDGAR

[To himself] Oh, what a heartbreaking sight!

LEAR

Nature’s above art in that respect. There’s your press-money. That fellow handles his bow like a crowkeeper. Draw me a clothier’s yard. Look, look, a mouse! Peace, peace, this piece of toasted cheese will do ’t. There’s my gauntlet. I’ll prove it on a giant. Bring up the brown bills. O, well flown, bird. I' th' clout, i' th' clout. Hewgh! Give the word.

LEAR

Nature is better than art in that respect. There's your enlistment money, recruit. That fellow handles his bow like a scarecrow. Draw the bowstring back farther, to the length of a tailor's yard. Look, look, a mouse! Quiet, quiet, this piece of toasted cheese will catch him. There's my challenge. I'll prove my case by fighting a giant. Bring up the foot soldiers. Oh, well shot, arrow. Right in the bull's eye, in the bull's eye! Woosh! What's the password?

EDGAR

Sweet marjoram.

EDGAR

Sweet marjoram.

LEAR

Pass.

LEAR

That's it. You can pass.

GLOUCESTER

I know that voice.

GLOUCESTER

I know that voice.

LEAR

Ha! Goneril with a white beard? Ha, Regan? They flattered me like a dog and told me I had white hairs inmy beard ere the black ones were there. To say “Ay” and“No” to everything that I said “Ay” and “No” to was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter, when the thunder would not peace at my bidding—there I found 'em, there I smelt 'emout. Go to, they are not men o' their words. They told me I was everything. 'Tis a lie, I am not ague-proof.

LEAR

Ha! Goneril with a white beard? Ha, Regan? They flattered me like a dog would, and told me that I had wisdom before I had old age. To say "yes" and "no" to everything that I said "yes" and "no" to was insincere and sinful. When the rain came to soak me, and the wind to make me shiver, and the thunder wouldn't stop at my command—then I realized the truth about them. Then I sniffed them out. They aren't honest. They told me I was everything—but I'm not immune to illness.

GLOUCESTER

The trick of that voice I do well remember.Is ’t not the king?

GLOUCESTER

Something about that voice is familiar to me. Is it the king?

LEAR

Ay, every inch a king! When I do stare, see how the subject quakes. I pardon that man’s life. What was thy cause? Adultery? Thou shalt not die. Die for adultery? No. The wren goes to ’t, and the small gilded fly Does lecher in my sight. Let copulation thrive, for Gloucester’s bastard son Was kinder to his father than my daughters Got ’tween the lawful sheets. To ’t, luxury, pell-mell! For I lack soldiers. Behold yond simpering dame, Whose face between her forks presages snow; That minces virtue and does shake the head To hear of pleasure’s name. The fitchew, nor the soiled horse, goes to ’t With a more riotous appetite. Down from the waist they are centaurs, Though women all above. But to the girdle do the gods inherit. Beneath is all the fiends'; there’s hell, there’s darkness, There’s the sulphurous pit— burning, scalding, Stench, consumption! Fie, fie, fie, pah, pah! Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, To sweeten my imagination. There’s money for thee.

LEAR

Yes, every inch a king! When I glare, see how my subjects tremble. I pardon that man's life. What was your crime? Adultery? You won't have to die. Die for adultery? No. The birds do it, and the flies copulate right in front of me. Let there be more copulation, in fact, for Gloucester's bastard son was kinder to him than my daughters—conceived on a marriage bed—have been to me. Go ahead, lust, rage on! For I need more soldiers. Look at that simpering woman over there—her stiff bonnet makes her look frigid and heartless. She coyly pretends to be virtuous and blushes at the word "sex," but really she's hornier than a stallion. From the waist down women are lecherous centaurs, though they're chaste up above. God only gets the woman down to her belt—below that belongs to the devil. That part is hell, darkness, the lake of fire—burning, scalding, stench, sickness! Shame, shame, shame, ah, ah! Give me a strong perfume to sweeten my imagination, good pharmacist. There's some money for you.

GLOUCESTER

O, let me kiss that hand!

GLOUCESTER

Oh, let me kiss that hand!

LEAR

Let me wipe it first. It smells of mortality.

LEAR

Let me wipe it first. It smells of death.

GLOUCESTER

O ruined piece of nature! This great worldShall so wear out to naught. Dost thou know me?

GLOUCESTER

Oh, you ruined masterpiece of nature! This great world will end up the same way, worn down to nothing. Do you know me?

LEAR

I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou squiny at me? No, do thy worst, blind Cupid. I’ll not love. Read thou this challenge. Mark but the penning of it.

LEAR

I remember your eyes well enough. Are you squinting at me? No, do your worst, blind Cupid. I'll never love again. Read this letter. Just notice the handwriting.

GLOUCESTER

Were all thy letters suns, I could not see one.

GLOUCESTER

Even if every word was a sun, I couldn't see a single one.

EDGAR

[aside] I would not take this from report. It is,And my heart breaks at it.

EDGAR

[To himself] I wouldn't believe this scene if I weren't seeing it myself. And my heart breaks at the sight of it.

LEAR

Read.

LEAR

Read it.

GLOUCESTER

What, with the case of eyes?

GLOUCESTER

How, with my emptyeye sockets?

LEAR

Oh ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your head, norno money in your purse? Your eyes are in a heavy case, your purse in a light. Yet you see how this world goes.

LEAR

Oh, ha, is that the way things are? You won't have eyes in your head until there's money in your purse? Your eyes are in a bad way and your purse is empty, but you see how this world works.

GLOUCESTER

I see it feelingly.

GLOUCESTER

I see by feeling.

LEAR

What, art mad? A man may see how this world goes with no eyes. Look with thine ears. See how yon justice railsupon yon simple thief. Hark in thine ear: change placesand, handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief? Thou hast seen a farmer’s dog bark at a beggar?

LEAR

What, are you crazy? A man can see how this world works without needing eyes. Look with your ears. See how that judge condemns an ordinary thief. But listen: if you have them switch places, do you think you could tell the difference between the judge and the thief? Have you seen a farmer's dog bark at a beggar?

GLOUCESTER

Ay, sir.

GLOUCESTER

Yes, sir.

LEAR

And the creature run from the cur? There thou mightst behold the great image of authority: a dog’s obeyed in office. Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand. Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own back. Thou hotly lust’st to use her in that kind For which thou whipp’st her. The usurer hangs the cozener. Through tattered clothes great vices do appear; Robes and furred gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold, And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks. Arm it in rags, a pigmy’s straw does pierce it. None does offend—none, I say, none. I’ll able 'em. Take that of me, my friend, who have the power To seal th' accuser’s lips. Get thee glass eyes, And like a scurvy politician seem To see the things thou dost not. Now, now, now, now, Pull off my boots. Harder, harder. So.

LEAR

And the man run from the mutt? There you can see the great image of authority: even a dog is obeyed when it's in power. You rascally officer, restrain your bloody hands! Why are you whipping that whore? Whip your own back instead. You lust after her and long to use her for the same crime you're whipping her for. The loanshark hangs the cheater. It's easy to see sins through tattered clothes, but rich robes and gowns hide everything. Cover up a sin with gold, and the mighty sword of justice can't touch it. But dress a sin in rags, and even a piece of straw can pierce it. No one is a criminal—no one, I say, no one. I'll pardon them all. Take that from me, my friend. I have the power to stop the prosecutors' lips. Get yourself some glass eyes, and pretend to see things you can't—like a corrupt politician. Now, now, now, now, pull off my boots. Harder, harder. Like that.

EDGAR

[aside] O matter and impertinency mixed! Reason in madness!

EDGAR

[To himself] Oh sense and nonsense mixed! Reason in madness!

LEAR

If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes. I know thee well enough. Thy name is Gloucester. Thou must be patient. We came crying hither. Thou know’st the first time that we smell the air We wawl and cry. I will preach to thee. Mark me.

LEAR

If you're going to cry over my bad luck, then take my eyes too. I know you well enough. Your name is Gloucester. You must be patient. I came here crying. You know that when we first smell the air as newborns we wail and cry. I'll preach to you. Listen to me.

GLOUCESTER

Alack, alack the day!

GLOUCESTER

Alas, how awful!

LEAR

When we are born, we cry that we are come To this great stage of fools. This a good block. It were a delicate stratagem to shoe A troop of horse with felt. I’ll put ’t in proof. And when I have stol'n upon these sons-in-law, Then, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!

LEAR

When we're born, we cry because we've arrived at this great stage of fools. I like your hat. It's a clever strategy to make horseshoes out of felt. I'll put it to the test. And when I've sneaked up on those sons-in-law of mine, then I'll kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!

Enter GENTLEMAN with two others

GENTLEMAN

Oh, here he is. Lay hand upon him.—Sir,Your most dear daughter—

GENTLEMAN

[To the other gentlemen] Oh, here's the king. Grab him. 

[To LEAR] Sir, your most dear daughter—

LEAR

No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even The natural fool of fortune. Use me well. You shall have ransom. Let me have surgeons. I am cut to th' brains.

LEAR

No rescue for me? What, I'm a prisoner? I was born to be the fool of fate. Treat me well. You'll get your ransom. Let me have a doctor. I'm wounded in the brain.

GENTLEMAN

You shall have anything.

GENTLEMAN

You'll have anything you want.

LEAR

No seconds? All myself? Why, this would make a man a man of salt, To use his eyes for garden water-pots, Ay, and laying autumn’s dust.

LEAR

No one will support me? I'm by myself? Why, this loneliness could reduce a man to nothing but salty tears. He could use his eyes to water his garden, yes, and to tamp down the dust of autumn.

GENTLEMAN

Good sir—

GENTLEMAN

Good sir—

LEAR

I will die bravely, like a smug bridegroom.What, I will be jovial. Come, come.I am a king, my masters, know you that?

LEAR

I'll die bravely, like a smug bridegroom. Well, I'll be jolly. Come, come. My gentlemen, I'm a king—did you know that?

GENTLEMAN

You are a royal one, and we obey you.

GENTLEMAN

You are a royal one, and we obey you.

LEAR

Then there’s life in ’t. Come, an if you get it, you shall get it by running. Sa, sa, sa, sa.

LEAR

Then there's still hope left. Come on—if you're going to get me, you'll have to catch me running! Sa, sa, sa, sa!

Exit LEAR running, followed by two gentlemen

GENTLEMAN

A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch, Past speaking of in a king. Thou hast a daughter Who redeems nature from the general curse Which twain have brought her to.

GENTLEMAN

Such a sight would be pitiful even in the lowliest beggar, but it's unbearable in a king. He still has one daughter good enough to redeem the evil of the other two.

EDGAR

Hail, gentle sir.

EDGAR

Hello, noble sir.

GENTLEMAN

Sir, speed you. What’s your will?

GENTLEMAN

God bless you, sir. What can I do for you?

EDGAR

Do you hear aught, sir, of a battle toward?

EDGAR

Sir, do you know anything about an impending battle?

GENTLEMAN

Most sure and vulgar. Everyone hears thatThat can distinguish sound.

GENTLEMAN

Surely, it's common knowledge. Everyone who can hear has heard about it.

EDGAR

But, by your favor,How near’s the other army?

EDGAR

But, please, how near is the enemy army?

GENTLEMAN

Near and on speedy foot. The main descryStands in the hourly thought.

GENTLEMAN

Near, and approaching quickly. The main force is expected to arrive soon.

EDGAR

I thank you, sir. That’s all.

EDGAR

I thank you, sir. That's all.

GENTLEMAN

Though that the queen on special cause is here,Her army is moved on.

GENTLEMAN

The queen is here for a special reason, but her army has moved on.

EDGAR

I thank you, sir.

EDGAR

I thank you, sir.

Exit GENTLEMAN

GLOUCESTER

You ever gentle gods, take my breath from me.Let not my worser spirit tempt me againTo die before you please.

GLOUCESTER

Oh, you gentle gods: please take my life. Don't let me be tempted to suicide again. I will die when it's your will.

EDGAR

Well pray you, father.

EDGAR

You pray well, old man.

GLOUCESTER

Now, good sir, what are you?

GLOUCESTER

Now, good sir, who are you?

EDGAR

A most poor man made tame to fortune’s blows, Who by the art of known and feeling sorrows Am pregnant to good pity. Give me your hand, I’ll lead you to some biding.

EDGAR

I'm a poor man who's been humbled by bad fortune. The profound sadness of my experience has made me more able to pity others. Give me your hand, and I'll lead you to a resting place.

GLOUCESTER

Hearty thanks. The bounty and the benison of heavenTo boot and boot.

GLOUCESTER

I thank you heartily. And in addition to my thanks, may heaven grant you blessings and prosperity.

Enter OSWALD the steward

OSWALD

A proclaimed prize! Most happy! That eyeless head of thine was first framed flesh To raise my fortunes. Thou old unhappy traitor, Briefly thyself remember. The sword is out That must destroy thee.

OSWALD

Look, a wanted man with a bounty on his life! What good luck for me! That eyeless head of yours was created just to make me rich. You old unlucky traitor, say your prayers and prepare to die. The sword that will destroy you is ready to strike.

GLOUCESTER

Now let thy friendly handPut strength enough to ’t.

GLOUCESTER

Then may your hand strike surely—I welcome the blow.

EDGAR interferes

OSWALD

Wherefore, bold peasant, Darest thou support a published traitor? Hence, Lest that th' infection of his fortune take Like hold on thee. Let go his arm.

OSWALD

How dare you support this well-known traitor, you bold peasant? Get away, before his bad luck infects you too. Let go of his arm.

EDGAR

'Chill not let go, zir, without vurther 'casion.

EDGAR

[Speaking in a country accent] I won't let go sir, not without a better reason than that.

OSWALD

Let go, slave, or thou diest!

OSWALD

Let go, villain, or you die!

EDGAR

Good gentleman, go your gait, and let poor volk pass. An 'chud ha' bin zwaggered out of my life, ’twould not ha' bin zo long as ’tis by a vortnight. Nay, come not near th' old man. Keep out, che vor' ye, or I’se try whether your costard or my ballow be the harder. 'Chill be plain with you.

EDGAR

[Speaking in a country accent] Good gentleman, walk away and let us poor folks pass by. If bullying like yours could kill me, I would have died at just two weeks old. No, don't come near the old man. Keep away, I'm warning you, or I'll find out which is harder: your head or my club.

OSWALD

Out, dunghill!

OSWALD

Out of my way, you pile of dung!

EDGAR

'Chill pick your teeth, zir. Come, no matter vor your foins.

EDGAR

[In a country accent] I'll knock your teeth out, sir. Come on, I'm not afraid of your sword!

EDGAR and OSWALD fight

OSWALD

[falling] Slave, thou hast slain me. Villain, take my purse. If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body. And give the letters which thou find’st about me To Edmund, Earl of Gloucester. Seek him out Upon the British party. O untimely death! [ dies]

OSWALD

[Falling] You scoundrel, you've killed me! Villain, take my purse. If you have any decency, then bury my body. And deliver the letters I'm carrying to Edmund, Earl of Gloucester. Find him in the British camp. Oh, untimely death! [He dies]

EDGAR

I know thee well—a serviceable villain,As duteous to the vices of thy mistressAs badness would desire.

EDGAR

[In his normal voice] I know you well—a hardworking villain, and always obedient to your mistress' evil desires.

GLOUCESTER

What, is he dead?

GLOUCESTER

What, is he dead?

EDGAR

Sit you down, father. Rest you. Let’s see these pockets. The letters that he speaks of May be my friends. He’s dead. I am only sorry He had no other death’s-man. Let us see. [takes letters out of OSWALD’s pocket and opens them] Leave, gentle wax, and, manners, blame us not. To know our enemies' minds, we rip their hearts. Their papers is more lawful. [reads] “Let our reciprocal vows be remembered. You have many opportunities to cut him off. If your will want not, time and place will be fruitfully offered. There is nothing done if he return the conqueror. Then am I the prisoner and his bed my gaol, from the loathed warmth whereof deliver me, and supply the place for your labor. Your—wife, so I would say—affectionate servant, Goneril.” O indistinguished space of woman’s will! A plot upon her virtuous husband’s life, And the exchange my brother!— Here in the sands Thee I’ll rake up, the post unsanctified Of murderous lechers. And in the mature time With this ungracious paper strike the sight Of the death-practiced duke. For him ’tis well That of thy death and business I can tell.

EDGAR

Sit down, old man. Rest. Let's see what's in these pockets. The letters he spoke of might help me. He's dead. I'm just sorry that I had to be the executioner. Let's see. [He takes letters out of OSWALD's pocket and opens them] Off you go, you wax seal. And, good manners—don't blame me for opening these letters. We kill our enemies to learn their secrets; reading their mail is a lesser evil. [He reads] "Don't forget the vows we made to each other. You have many chances to cut off Albany's life. If your will is strong enough, you'll have lots of opportunities to do it. Nothing will be accomplished if he returns as the victor. Then I'll be his prisoner again, and his bed will be my prison. Free me from his hateful presence, and as a reward for your work you can take his place. Signed, your—I wish I could say 'wife'—affectionate servant,
     Goneril."

Oh, there is no limit to a woman's appetite! To plot against her virtuous husband's life, and replace him with my brother! 

[To OSWALD's body] I'll bury you here in a shallow grave, you unholy messenger for lustful murderers. And when the time is ripe, I'll show this wicked letter to the duke whose life is being plotted against. It's a good thing for him that I can tell him about your death and the business of your letter.

GLOUCESTER

The king is mad. How stiff is my vile sense, That I stand up and have ingenious feeling Of my huge sorrows. Better I were distract— So should my thoughts be severed from my griefs, And woes by wrong imaginations lose The knowledge of themselves.

GLOUCESTER

The king is insane, but my own unwanted sanity is too stubborn—I still have the senses to perceive my own great sorrow. It would be better if I went crazy. Then my thoughts would be free from grief, and my hallucinations would make me forget my suffering.

Drum afar off

EDGAR

Give me your hand. Far off methinks I hear the beaten drum.Come, father, I’ll bestow you with a friend.

EDGAR

Give me your hand. I think I hear drums in the distance. Come, old man, and I'll take you to stay with a friend.

Exeunt

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Matt cosby
About the Translator: Matt Cosby
Matt Cosby graduated from Amherst College in 2011, and currently works as a writer and editor for LitCharts. He is from Florida but now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also makes art, plays the piano, and goes to dog parks.