King Lear
Play Summary and Full Text: Full Text with Clips: Act IV Scene 7

Cordelia praises Kent’s goodness, who deflects it: “to be acknowledged madam is over paid.” She encourages him to change back to his normal clothing, but he declines, until “time and I think meet.” A gentleman comes in to say that Lear is sleeping, but that he has slept a long time and perhaps should be wakened. As Cordelia advises him to take his own counsel, Lear is carried in on a chair or bed. He has been dressed and cleaned, an important sign of his gradual revival. Cordelia orders the music louder, and leans over to kiss Lear on the forehead. She speaks kindly of what he has endured, suggesting that a lesser soul would have succumbed entirely. At last he awakes, in a kind of stupor, protesting that he should not be taken from the grave: “Thou art a soul in bliss, but I am bound by a wheel of fire that mine own tears do scald like molten lead.”

She asks if he knows her; he seems not to immediately, asking instead where he has been. He is not sure he is sentient. He tries to move, she restrains him, and he laments his age (80), a less than perfect mind, and that he remembers so little. Finally he says, “I think this lady to be my child Cordelia.”

“And so I am, I am” she replies, and weeps. He stills her tears, and says, “I know you do not love me, for your sisters have, as I do remember, done me wrong. You have some cause, they have not.”

“No cause, no cause” is her reply. He wonders if he is in France. Assured he is in England, Lear relaxes and at the gentleman’s urging, repairs to rest. Cordelia, Kent, and the gentleman then get to the business of war.

Act IV Scene 6d . . . Act V Scene 1

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

ACT IV. SCENE VII. A tent in the French camp.

Enter Cordelia, Kent, and Gentleman.

O thou good Kent, how shall I live and work
To match thy goodness? My life will be too short,
And every measure fail me.

To be acknowledged, madam, is o’erpaid.
All my reports go with the modest truth,    [5]
Nor more, nor clipped, but so.

CORDELIA                           Be better suited.
These weeds are memories of those worser hours.
I prithee, put them off.

KENT                          Pardon me, dear madam.  [10]
Yet to be known shortens my made intent.
My boon I make it, that you know me not
Till time and I think meet.

Then be’t so, my good lord. [To the Gentleman] How does the King?

Gentleman    Madam, sleeps still.    [15]

CORDELIA                                  O you kind gods,
Cure this great breach in his abused nature.
Th’ untuned and jarring senses, O, wind up
Of this child-changed father.

Gentleman                          So please your majesty    [20]
That we may wake the King? He hath slept long.

Be governed by your knowledge, and proceed
I’th’ sway of your own will. Is he arrayed?

Enter Lear in a chair carried by servants.

Ay, madam. In the heaviness of his sleep
We put fresh garments on him.     [25]
Be by, good madam, when we do awake him;
I doubt not of his temperance.

[CORDELIA                               Very well.

Gentleman    Please you, draw near. Louder the music there.]

O my dear father. Restoration hang     [30]
Thy medicine on my lips, and
let this kiss
Repair those violent harms that my two sisters
Have in thy reverence made.

KENT                                    Kind and dear princess.

Had you not been their father, these white flakes     [35]
Had challenged pity of them. Was this a face
To be opposed against the warring winds?
[To stand against the deep dread-bolted thunder?
In the most terrible and nimble stroke
Of quick, cross lightning? To watch—poor perdu—    [40]
With this thin helm?]
Mine enemy’s dog,
Though he had bit me, should have stood that night
Against my fire. And wast thou fain, poor father,
To hovel thee with swine, and rogues forlorn,
In short and musty straw? Alack, alack!     [45]
‘Tis wonder that thy life and wits at once
Had not concluded all.
He wakes. Speak to him.

Gentleman    Madam, do you. ‘Tis fittest.

CORDELIA    How does my royal lord? How fares your majesty?

You do me wrong to take me out o’th’ grave.    [50]
Thou art a soul in bliss, but I am bound
Upon a wheel of fire that mine own tears
Do scald like molten lead.

CORDELIA                           Sir, do you know me?

KING LEAR   You are a spirit, I know. Where did you die?     [55]

CORDELIA   Still, still far wide!

Gentleman    He’s scarce awake. Let him alone awhile.

Where have I been? Where am I? Fair daylight?
I am mightily abused. I should ev’n die with pity,
To see another thus.
I know not what to say.     [60]
I will not swear these are my hands. Let’s see—
I feel this pin prick. Would I were assured
Of my condition.

CORDELIA    [kneels] O look upon me, sir,
And hold your hands in benediction o’er me.    [65]
No, sir, you must not kneel.

KING LEAR                           Pray, do not mock me.
I am a very foolish fond old man,
Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less.
And, to deal plainly,     [70]
I fear I am not in my perfect mind.
Methinks I should know you, and know this man,
Yet I am doubtful for I am mainly ignorant
What place this is, and all the skill I have
Remembers not these garments. Nor I know not    [75]
Where I did lodge last night.
Do not laugh at me,
For, as I am a man, I think this lady
To be my child Cordelia.

CORDELIA                      And so I am, I am.

Be your tears wet? Yes, faith. I pray, weep not.    [80]
If you have poison for me, I will drink it.
I know you do not love me, for your sisters
Have, as I do remember, done me wrong.
You have some cause, they have not.

CORDELIA                                        No cause, no cause.    [85]

KING LEAR   Am I in France?

KENT                                     In your own kingdom, sir.

KING LEAR    Do not abuse me.

Be comforted, good madam. The great rage,
You see, is killed in him, and [yet it is danger     [90]
To make him even o’er the time he has lost.]

Desire him to go in. Trouble him no more
Till further settling.

CORDELIA              Will’t please your highness walk?

You must bear with me.    [95]
Pray you now, forget and forgive. I am old and foolish.

Exeunt [all but Kent and Gentleman]

[Gentleman   Holds it true, sir, that the Duke of Cornwall was so slain?

KENT    Most certain, sir.

Gentleman    Who is conductor of his people?

KENT   As 'tis said, the bastard son of Gloucester.     [100]

They say Edgar his banished son is with the Earl
of Kent in Germany.

Report is changeable. ‘Tis time to look about. The
powers of the kingdom approach apace.

Gentleman   The arbitrement is like to be bloody. Fare you well, sir.    [105]


My point and period will be throughly wrought,
Or well or ill, as this day’s battle’s fought.


  • Cary Patrick Martin

    My favorite scene. So quiet yet powerful.

Produced by THIRTEEN    ©2014 Educational Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.