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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, with a few minor characters whose dialogue introduces some of the play’s central themes.
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The crow may bathe his coal-black wings in mire

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“The crow may bathe his coal-black wings in mire
And unperceived fly with the filth away,
But if the like the snow-white swan desire,
The stain upon his silver down will stay.
Poor grooms are sightless night, kings glorious day.
Gnats are unnoted wheresoe’er they fly,
But eagles gazed upon with every eye.

This helpless smoke of words doth me no right

“Out,
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Source:
Line 1009

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And humbly now upon my bended knee

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Suffolk
And humbly now upon my bended knee,
In sight of England and her lordly peers,
Deliver up my title in the Queen
To your most gracious hands, that are the substance
Of that great shadow I did represent:
The happiest gift that ever marquess gave,
The fairest queen that ever king received.

Her sight did ravish,
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Source:
Act 1
Scene 1
Line 12

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Sir, I love you more than word can wield the matter

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Sir, I love you more than word can wield the matter,
Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty,
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare,
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor;
As much as child e’er loved, or father found;
A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable.
Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
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Source:
Act 1
Scene 1
Line 60

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Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace

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Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace,
Profaners of this neighbor-stainèd steel—
Will they not hear?—What ho! You men, you beasts,
That quench the fire of your pernicious rage
With purple fountains issuing from your veins:
On pain of torture, from those bloody hands
Throw your mistempered weapons to the ground,
And hear the sentence of your movèd prince.

Three civil brawls bred of an airy word
By thee,
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Source:
Act 1
Scene 1
Line 83

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O Dissembling courtesy!

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Imogen
O,
Dissembling courtesy! How fine this tyrant
Can tickle where she wounds! My dearest husband,
I something fear my father’s wrath, but nothing—
Always reserved my holy duty—what
His rage can do on me. You must be gone,
And I shall here abide the hourly shot
Of angry eyes, not comforted to live
But that there is this jewel in the world
That I may see again.  
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Source:
Act 1
Scene 1
Line 97

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But is there no quick recreation granted?

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Berowne
But is there no quick recreation granted?
King
Ay, that there is. Our court, you know, is haunted
With a refinèd traveler of Spain,
A man in all the world’s new fashion planted,
That hath a mint of phrases in his brain;
One who the music of his own vain tongue
Doth ravish like enchanting harmony,
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Source:
Act 1
Scene 1
Line 165

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Now bind my brows with iron

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Northumberland
Now bind my brows with iron, and approach
The ragged’st hour that time and spite dare bring
To frown upon th’ enraged Northumberland.
Let heaven kiss Earth! Now let not Nature’s hand
Keep the wild flood confined. Let order die,
And let this world no longer be a stage
To feed contention in a lingering act;
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Source:
Act 1
Scene 1
Line 166

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Thou, Nature, art my goddess

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Thou, Nature, art my goddess. To thy law
My services are bound. Wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive me
For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines
Lag of a brother? why “bastard”? Wherefore “base,”
When my dimensions are as well compact,
My mind as generous and my shape as true
As honest madam’s issue?
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Source:
Act 1
Scene 2
Line 1

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Bonjour, Monsieur Le Beau. What’s the news?

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Celia
Bonjour, Monsieur Le Beau. What’s the news?
La Beau
Fair princess, you have lost much good sport.
Celia
Sport? Of what color?
La Beau
What color, madam? How shall I answer you?
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Source:
Act 1
Scene 2
Line 96

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Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world

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Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a ColossusSimile
, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs, and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.Adynaton

Men at some time are masters of their fates;
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves,
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