King Lear
Play Summary and Full Text: Full Text with Clips: Act I Scene 1a

Gloucester (pronounced “Gloster”) and Kent await King Lear’s arrival.  Kent wonders that Lear used to favor Albany over Cornwall, but now seems to consider them equally as he hopes to divide his kingdom equally among his three daughters.  They encounter Edmund, Gloucester’s bastard son, about whom Kent appears ignorant, perhaps because Edmund has been abroad for nine years.  In a jocular if ashamed fashion, Gloucester confesses his son’s begetting, with “sport in the making.”  Edmund is fashionably polite, but everything he later does stems from his smoldering resentment at the status of dismissed bastard.  Thus the two plots begin from the same nutshell.

Persons of the Play . . . Act I Scene 1b

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ACT I. SCENE 1. SEGMENT A. King Lear’s palace.

Enter Kent, Gloucester, and Edmund

I thought the king had more affected

the Duke of Albany than Cornwall.

It did always seem so to us.  But now, in the
division of the kingdom, it appears not which of
the dukes he values most, for qualities are so   [4]
weighed that curiosity in neither can make choice
of either’s moiety

KENT   Is not this your son, my lord?

His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge. I have
so often blushed to acknowledge him that now I am

to it.    [10]

KENT   I cannot conceive you.

Sir, this young fellow’s mother could, whereupon
she grew round-wombed, and had, indeed, sir, a son
for her cradle ere she had a husband for her bed.

Do you smell a fault?


KENT     I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it
being so proper.


But I have, sir, a son by order of law,

some year elder than
who yet is no dearer in my account.  Though this
knave came something saucily into the world before he    [20]
was sent for, yet was his mother fair, there was good sport
at his making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged. Do
you know this noble gentleman, Edmund?

EDMUND   No, my lord.

GLOUCESTER    My lord of Kent.  Remember him hereafter as my    [25]
honorable friend.

EDMUND   My services to your lordship.

KENT   I must love you, and sue to know you better.

EDMUND    Sir, I shall study deserving.

He hath been out nine years, and away

he shall    [30]
again. The king is coming.

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