King Lear - Memorable lines

Four tragedies - Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Othello, the Moor of Venice, Macbeth and King Lear - David Bevington and David Scott Kastan 1988, 2005

King Lear
Memorable lines


Nothing will come of nothing.

(LEAR 1.1.90)

Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich being poor,

Most choice, forsaken, and most loved, despised …

(FRANCE 1.1.254—5)

Thou, Nature, art my goddess.

(EDMUND 1.2.1)

Now, gods, stand up for bastards!

(EDMUND 1.2.22)

Have more than thou showest,

Speak less than thou knowest,

Lend less than thou owest.

(FOOL 1.4.115—17)

Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend …

(LEAR 1.4.256)

Hear, Nature, hear! Dear goddess, hear!

Suspend thy purpose if thou didst intend

To make this creature fruitful!

(LEAR 1.4.273—5)

How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is

To have a thankless child!

(LEAR 1.4.286—7)

You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,

As full of grief as age, wretched in both.

(LEAR 2.4.274—5)

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow!

(LEAR 3.2.1)

Here I stand your slave, A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man.

(LEAR 3.2.19—20)

Let the great gods, That keep this dreadful pother o’er our heads,

Find out their enemies now.

(LEAR 3.2.49—51)

I am a man More sinned against than sinning.

(LEAR 3.2.59—60)

The art of our necessities is strange,

And can make vile things precious.

(LEAR 3.2.70—1)

Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er you are,

That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,

How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,

Your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you

From seasons such as these?

(LEAR 3.4.28—32)

Oh, I have ta’en Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;

Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel.

(LEAR 3.4.32—4)

Is man no more than this?

(LEAR 3.4.101—2)

Unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare,

forked animal as thou art.

(LEAR 3.4.105—7)

… ’tis a naughty night to swim in.

(FOOL 3.4.109—10)

Child Rowland to the dark tower came.

(EDGAR 3.4.181)

I am tied to th’ stake, and I must stand the course.


The lamentable change is from the best;

The worst returns to laughter.

(EDGAR 4.1.5—6)

World, world, O world! But that thy strange mutations make us hate thee,

Life would not yield to age.

(EDGAR 4.1.10—12)

Full oft ’tis seen

Our means secure us, and our mere defects

Prove our commodities.

(GLOUCESTER 4.1.19—21)

The worst is not So long as we can say, “This is the worst.”

(EDGAR 4.1.27—8)

As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods;

They kill us for their sport.

(GLOUCESTER 4.1.36—7)

If that the heavens do not their visible spirits

Send quickly down to tame these vile offenses,

It will come,

Humanity must perforce prey on itself,

Like monsters of the deep.

(ALBANY 4.2.47—51)

This shows you are above, You justicers, that these our nether crimes

So speedily can venge!

(ALBANY 4.2.79—81)

Ay, every inch a king.

(LEAR 4.6.107)

But to the girdle do the gods inherit;

Beneath is all the fiends’.

(LEAR 4.6.126—7)

There thou mightst behold the great image of authority: a dog’s

obeyed in office.

(LEAR 4.6.157—9)

When we are born, we cry that we are come

To this great stage of fools.

(LEAR 4.6.182—3)

I am bound Upon a wheel of fire.

(LEAR 4.7.47—8)

I fear I am not in my perfect mind.

(LEAR 4.7.64)

Men must endure Their going hence, even as their coming hither;

Ripeness is all.

(EDGAR 5.2.9—11)

… and hear poor rogues

Talk of court news; and we’ll talk with them too—

Who loses and who wins; who’s in, who’s out …

(LEAR 5.3.13—15)

The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices

Make instruments to plague us.

(EDGAR 5.3.173—4)

The wheel is come full circle.

(EDMUND 5.3.177)

Howl, howl, howl! Oh, you are men of stones!

(LEAR 5.3.262)

KENT Is this the promised end?

EDGAR Or image of that horror? (5.3.268—9)

Her voice was ever soft, Gentle, and low, an excellent thing in woman.

(LEAR 5.3.277—8)

If Fortune brag of two she loved and hated,

One of them we behold.

(KENT 5.3.285—6)

The wonder is he hath endured so long.

(KENT 5.3.322)