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

Edmund, with Regan, sends a gentleman off to see if Albany is willing to fight or not. Regan then asks directly if he is sleeping with Goneril. He insists he is not, but she seems not to quite believe him, ordering him to “be not familiar with her.”

Goneril now comes in with Albany. In an aside, Goneril declares that she would rather lose the battle than Edmund. Albany then distinguishes between his support for Lear and Cordelia but his determined opposition to a French invasion. Edmund promises to meet up with Albany at his tent, and leaves, with both women, each carping at the other.

Alone, Albany is visited by Edgar from the shadows, who gives him the letter he took from Oswald. He says that if Albany wins, he should sound the trumpet, and Edgar will carry out his revenge, “wretched though I seem.” He exits quickly. Edmund returns, alerting Albany to the enemy’s proximity and true forces discovered by reconnaissance, and urges Albany to be ready. Alone, Edmund deliberates on his two women, which to have—both, one, or none—and the circumstances of jealousy he must deal with. He decides to await the outcome of the battle before determining a course.

Act IV Scene 7 . . . Act V Scene 2

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ACT V. SCENE I. The British camp, near Dover.

Enter with drum and colors, Edmund, Regan, Gentlemen, and Soldiers

Know of the duke if his last purpose hold,
Or whether since he is advised by aught
To change the course.
He’s full of alteration
And self-reproving. Bring his constant pleasure. [exit Gentleman]

REGAN   Our sister’s man is certainly miscarried.    [5]

EDMUND   ‘Tis to be doubted, madam.

REGAN                                         Now, sweet lord,
You know the goodness I intend upon you.
Tell me but truly—but then speak the truth—
Do you not love my sister?    [10]

EDMUND                          In honored love.

But have you never found my brother’s way
To the forfended place?

[EDMUND                      That thought abuses you.

I am doubtful that you have been conjunct    [15]
And bosomed with her, as far as we call hers.]

EDMUND   No, by mine honor, madam.

I never shall endure her. Dear my lord,
Be not familiar with her.

EDMUND                       Fear me not—    [20]

Enter, with drum and colors, Albany, Goneril, Soldiers

She and the Duke her husband.

[GONERIL  [aside]
I had rather lose the battle than that sister
Should loosen him and me.]

Our very loving sister, well bemet.
Sir, this I heard. The King is come to his daughter,    [25]
With others whom the rigor of our state
Forced to cry out. [Where I could not be honest,
I never yet was valiant. For this business,
It touches us, as France invades our land,
Not bolds the King, with others whom I fear    [30]
Most just and heavy causes make oppose.

EDMUND   Sir, you speak nobly.]

REGAN                                    Why is this reasoned?

Combine together ‘gainst the enemy,
For these domestic and particular broils    [35]
Are not the question here.

ALBANY                              Let’s then determine
With the ancient of war on our proceedings.

[EDMUND   I shall attend you presently at your tent.]

REGAN   Sister, you’ll go with us?     [40]


REGAN    ‘Tis most convenient; pray you, go with us.

GONERIL   O, ho, I know the riddle.—I will go.

Exeunt both the armies. Enter Edgar. [Albany remains]

If e’er your grace had speech with man so poor,
Hear me one word.    [45]

ALBANY [to soldiers] I’ll overtake you. [to Edgar] Speak.

Before you fight the battle, ope this letter.
If you have victory, let the trumpet sound
For him that brought it. Wretched though I seem,
I can produce a champion that will prove    [50]
What is avouched there.If you miscarry,
Your business of the world hath so an end,
And machination ceases.
Fortune love you.

ALBANY   Stay till I have read the letter.

EDGAR                                 I was forbid it.    [55]
When time shall serve, let but the herald cry,
And I’ll appear again.

ALBANY Why, fare thee well. I will o’erlook thy paper.

Exit [Edgar]    Enter Edmund.

The enemy’s in view; draw up your powers.
Here is the guess of their true strength and forces    [60]
By diligent discovery.
But your haste
Is now urged on you.

ALBANY    We will greet the time.


To both these sisters have I sworn my love,
Each jealous of the other, as the stung    [65]
Are of the adder. Which of them shall I take?
Both? One? Or neither? Neither can be enjoyed,
If both remain alive. To take the widow
Exasperates, makes mad her sister Goneril,
And hardly shall I carry out my side,    [70]
Her husband being alive. Now then, we’ll use
His countenance for the battle, which being done,
Let her who would be rid of him devise
His speedy taking off. As for the mercy
Which he intends to Lear and to Cordelia,    [75]
The battle done, and they within our power,
Shall never see his pardon, for my state
Stands on me to defend, not to debate.


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