King Lear
Play Summary and Full Text: Full Text with Clips: Act I Scene 3

Discussing matters with Oswald, her steward, Goneril complains bitterly about the riotous and abusive behavior of Lear and his hundred knights, who act like children: “old fools are babes again.” She advises Oswald and his cohort to be cool and dismissive toward them; if they do not like it, they can go to her sisters, who feels of like mind. When Lear returns from hunting, Oswald is to tell him that she is sick and cannot receive him. She writes to her sister to hold the same course.

Act I Scene 2b . . . Act I Scene 4a

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ACT I. SCENE III. The Duke of Albany’s palace.

Enter Goneril and Steward.

Did my father strike my gentleman
For chiding of his fool?

OSWALD                       Ay, madam.

By day and night he wrongs me. Every hour
He flashes into one gross crime or other
That sets us all at odds. I’ll not endure it.    [5]
His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids us
On every trifle. When he returns from hunting
I will not speak with him. Say I am sick.
If you come slack of former services
You shall do well; the fault of it I’ll answer. [horns within] [10]

OSWALD   He’s coming, madam, I hear him.

Put on what weary negligence you please,
You and your fellows. I’d have it come to question.
If he distaste it, let him to my sister,
Whose mind and mine I know in that are one,    [15]
[Not to be overruled. Idle old man,
That still would manage those authorities
That he hath given away. Now by my life
Old fools are babes again and must be used
With checks as flatteries, when they are seen abused.]    [20]
Remember what I have said.

OSWALD                               Very well, madam.

And let his knights have colder looks among you.
What grows of it, no matter. Advise your fellows so.
[I would breed from hence occasions, and I shall,    [25]
That I may speak.]
I’ll write straight to my sister
To hold my very course. Go, prepare for dinner.


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