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

Edmund orders Lear and Cordelia guarded until a higher authority (Albany, Goneril, or Regan) can decide their fate. Cordelia is depressed, but Lear makes light of their state: “No, no, no, no. Come let’s away to prison. . . .” He is taken out defiantly. Secretly Edmund passes a paper to a captain with orders to kill Cordelia and Lear on the promise of fortune and the threat of unemployment. “If it be man’s work, I’ll do it.”

Act V Scene 2 . . . Act V Scene 3b

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ACT V. SCENE III. SEGMENT A. The British camp near Dover.

Enter in conquest with drum and colors, Edmund, Lear and
Cordelia as prisoners, Soldiers, Captain.

EDMUND
Some officers take them away. Good guard,
Until their greater pleasures first be known
That are to censure them.

CORDELIA                          We are not the first
Who with best meaning have incurred the worst.    [5]
For thee, oppressed King, am I cast down.
Myself could else outfrown false fortune’s frown.

Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters?

KING LEAR
No, no, no, no. Come, let’s away to prison.
We two alone will sing like birds i’th’ cage.    [10]
When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel down,
And ask of thee forgiveness. So we’ll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news. And we’ll talk with them too,    [15]
Who loses and who wins, who’s in, who’s out,
And take upon’s the mystery of things
As if we were God’s spies. And we’ll wear out
In a walled prison packs and sects of great ones
That ebb and flow by the moon.    [20]

EDMUND   Take them away.

KING LEAR
Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,
The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught thee?
He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven,
And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes.     [25]
The good-years shall devour them, flesh and fell,
Ere they shall make us weep. We’ll see ‘em starve
first. Come.

Exit [Lear and Cordelia, guarded]

EDMUND
Come hither, captain. Hark.
Take thou this note. Go follow them to prison.    [30]
One step I have advanced thee. If thou dost
As this instructs thee, thou dost make thy way
To noble fortunes. Know thou this, that men
Are as the time is;
to be tender-minded
Does not become a sword. Thy great employment    [35]
Will not bear question. Either say thou’lt do’t,
Or thrive by other means.

Captain                         I’ll do ‘t, my lord.

EDMUND
About it, and write “happy” when thou’st done’t.
Mark, I say, instantly, and carry it so    [40]
As I have set it down.

[Captain
I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats.
If it be man's work, I'll do 't.]

Exit Captain

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