King Lear
Background on King Lear: King Leir the Play: Scene 9

Gonorill complains to Skalliger that Leir demands too much of her, and complains bitterly at every expense. She alone bears his expenses while Ragan goes free.  What should she do “to rid me of this woe”?  He recommends cutting his allowance in half, the better he may appreciate it.  She has already done this. On his advice she will cut out the other half, so he will have to go elsewhere for a living.  Alone, Skalliger calls her viperous, but blames his own villainous self for helping: “that he that cannot flatter, cannot live.”

Scene 8 . . . Directory . . . Scene 10

Scene 9

Enter Gonorill and Skalliger.

GONORILL: I prithy, Skalliger, tell me that thou thinkst:
Could any woman of our dignity
Endure such quips and peremptory taunts,
As I do daily from my doting father?
Doth’t not suffice that I him keep of alms,
Who is not able for to keep himself?
But as it he were our better, he should think
To check and snap me up at every word.
I cannot make me a new-fashioned gown,
And set it forth with more than common cost; … [9.10]
But his old doting doltish withered wit,
Is sure to give a senseless check for it.
I cannot make a banquet extraordinary,
To grace myself, and spread my name abroad,
But he, old fool, is captious by and by,
And saith, the cost would well suffice for twice.
Judge then, I pray, what reason is’t, that I
Should stand alone charged with his vain expense,
And that my sister Ragan should go free,
To whom he gave as much, as unto me? … [9.20]
I prithee, Skalliger, tell me, if thou know,
By any means to rid me of this woe.

SKALLIGER: Your many favors still bestowed on me,
Bind me in duty to advise your Grace,
How you may soonest remedy this ill.
The large allowance which he hath from you,
Is that which makes him so forget himself:
Therefore abridge it half, and you shall see,
That having less, he will more thankful be:
For why, abundance maketh us forget … [9.30]
The fountains whence the benefits do spring.

GONORILL: Well, Skalliger, for thy kind advice herein,
I will not be ungrateful, if I live:
I have restrained half his portion already,
And I will presently restrain the other,
That having no means to relieve himself,
He may go seek elsewhere for better help.   Exit.

SKALLIGER: Go, viperous woman, shame to all thy sex:
The heavens, no doubt, will punish thee for this:
And me a villain, that to curry favor, … [9.40]
Have given the daughter counsel ‘gainst the father.
But us the world doth this experience give,
That he that cannot flatter, cannot live.   Exit.

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