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Madness

Lear: Act One Scene One

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King Lear’s first scene is notable in its length and structure. At over 300 lines, with more characters on stage than in all but the last scene of the play, and being divided into three sub-scenes, this first scene is almost a play in itself.

It begins, as do so many of Shakespeare’s plays,
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Words, words, words

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Hamlet
Words, words, words.Epizeuxis
Polonius
What is the matter, my lord?
Hamlet
Between who?
Polonius
I mean the matter Antanaclesis
that you read, my lord.

Though this be madness, yet there is
method in ‘t.

Hamlet
Slanders,
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Source:
Act 2
Scene 2
Line 210

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I heard myself proclaimed

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I heard myself proclaimed,
And by the happy hollow of a tree
Escaped the hunt. No port is free; no place
That guard and most unusual vigilance
Does not attend my taking. Whiles I may ‘scape,
I will preserve myself, and am bethought
To take the basest and most poorest shape
That ever penury in contempt of man
Brought near to beast.
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Source:
Act 2
Scene 3
Line 1

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Who’s there, besides foul weather?

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Kent
Who’s there, besides foul weather?
Gentleman
One minded like the weather, most unquietly.
Kent
I know you. Where’s the King?
Gentleman
Contending with the fretful elements;
Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea
Or swell the curlèd waters ‘bove the main,
That things might change or cease;
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Source:
Act 3
Scene 1
Line 1

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Themes:
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O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!

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O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!Synecdoche
The courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s, eye, tongue, sword,Alliteration & Synecdoche
Th’ expectancy and rose of the fair state,Hendiadys
The glass of fashion and the mold of form,Metaphor & Isocolon
Th’ observed of all observers,
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Source:
Act 3
Scene 1
Line 163

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Blow winds, and crack your cheeks!

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King Lear
Blow winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks.
You sulph’rous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers of oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head. And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Strike flat the thick rotundity o’ th’ world.
Crack nature’s molds, all germens spill at once
That makes ingrateful man.
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Source:
Act 3
Scene 2
Line 1

Source Type:
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Spoken by:
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Themes:
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My wits begin to turn

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King Lear
My wits begin to turn.—
Come on, my boy. How dost, my boy? Art cold?
I am cold myself.—Where is this straw, my fellow?
The art of our necessities is strange
And can make vile things precious. Come, your hovel.—
Poor Fool and knave, I have one part in my heart
That’s sorry yet for thee.
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Source:
Act 3
Scene 2
Line 73

Source Type:
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Themes:
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Here is the place, my lord

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Kent
Here is the place, my lord. Good my lord, enter.
The tyranny of the open night ‘s too rough
For nature to endure.
Storm still.
King Lear
Let me alone.
Kent
Good my lord, enter here.
King Lear
Wilt break my heart?
Kent
I had rather break mine own.
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Source:
Act 3
Scene 4
Line 1

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Why, look you there, look how it steals away!

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Hamlet
Why, look you there, look how it steals away!
My father, in his habit as he lived!
Look where he goes even now out at the portal!
Ghost exits.
Queen
This is the very coinage of your brain.
This bodiless creation ecstasy
Is very cunning in.
Hamlet
Ecstasy?
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Source:
Act 3
Scene 4
Line 154

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What shall I do?

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Queen
What shall I do?
Hamlet
Not this by no means that I bid you do:
Let the bloat king tempt you again to bed,
Pinch wanton on your cheek, call you his mouse,
And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses
Or paddling in your neck with his damned fingers,
Make you to ravel all this matter out
That I essentially am not in madness,
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Source:
Act 3
Scene 4
Line 202

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Frateretto calls me and tells me Nero is an angler

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Edgar
Frateretto calls me and tells me Nero is an
angler in the lake of darkness. Pray, innocent, and
beware the foul fiend.
Fool
Prithee, nuncle, tell me whether a madman be a
gentleman or a yeoman.
Lear
A king, a king!
Fool
No, he’s a yeoman that has a gentleman to his
son,
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Source:
Act 3
Scene 6
Line 6

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Themes:
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Connected Notes:
Demons & Madness