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Speeches (Lines) for Goneril
in "King Lear"

Total: 53

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Speech text



Lear. Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.
Give me the map there. Know we have divided
In three our kingdom; and 'tis our fast intent
To shake all cares and business from our age,
Conferring them on younger strengths while we
Unburthen'd crawl toward death. Our son of Cornwall,
And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
We have this hour a constant will to publish
Our daughters' several dowers, that future strife
May be prevented now. The princes, France and Burgundy,
Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
And here are to be answer'd. Tell me, my daughters
(Since now we will divest us both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state),
Which of you shall we say doth love us most?
That we our largest bounty may extend
Where nature doth with merit challenge. Goneril,
Our eldest-born, speak first.

Goneril. Sir, I love you more than words 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, honour;
As much as child e'er lov'd, or father found;
A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable.
Beyond all manner of so much I love you.



Cordelia. The jewels of our father, with wash'd eyes
Cordelia leaves you. I know you what you are;
And, like a sister, am most loath to call
Your faults as they are nam'd. Use well our father.
To your professed bosoms I commit him;
But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,
I would prefer him to a better place!
So farewell to you both.

Goneril. Prescribe not us our duties.



(stage directions). Exeunt France and Cordelia.

Goneril. Sister, it is not little I have to say of what most nearly
appertains to us both. I think our father will hence to-night.



Regan. That's most certain, and with you; next month with us.

Goneril. You see how full of changes his age is. The observation we
have made of it hath not been little. He always lov'd our
sister most, and with what poor judgment he hath now cast her
off appears too grossly.



Regan. 'Tis the infirmity of his age; yet he hath ever but slenderly
known himself.

Goneril. The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash; then
must we look to receive from his age, not alone the
imperfections of long-ingraffed condition, but therewithal
the unruly waywardness that infirm and choleric years bring with



Regan. Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him as this
of Kent's banishment.

Goneril. There is further compliment of leave-taking between France and
him. Pray you let's hit together. If our father carry authority
with such dispositions as he bears, this last surrender of his
will but offend us.



Regan. We shall further think on't.

Goneril. We must do something, and i' th' heat.



(stage directions). Enter Goneril and [her] Steward [Oswald].

Goneril. Did my father strike my gentleman for chiding of his fool?



Oswald. Ay, madam.

Goneril. By day and night, he wrongs me! Every hour
He flashes into one gross crime or other
That sets us all at odds. I'll not endure it.
His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids us
On every trifle. When he returns from hunting,
I will not speak with him. Say I am sick.
If you come slack of former services,
You shall do well; the fault of it I'll answer.



Oswald. He's coming, madam; I hear him.

Goneril. Put on what weary negligence you please,
You and your fellows. I'd have it come to question.
If he distaste it, let him to our sister,
Whose mind and mine I know in that are one,
Not to be overrul'd. Idle old man,
That still would manage those authorities
That he hath given away! Now, by my life,
Old fools are babes again, and must be us'd
With checks as flatteries, when they are seen abus'd.
Remember what I have said.



Oswald. Very well, madam.

Goneril. And let his knights have colder looks among you.
What grows of it, no matter. Advise your fellows so.
I would breed from hence occasions, and I shall,
That I may speak. I'll write straight to my sister
To hold my very course. Prepare for dinner.



Fool. Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou hadst no need to care for
her frowning. Now thou art an O without a figure. I am better
than thou art now: I am a fool, thou art nothing.
[To Goneril] Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue. So your face
bids me, though you say nothing. Mum, mum!
He that keeps nor crust nor crum,
Weary of all, shall want some.-
[Points at Lear] That's a sheal'd peascod.

Goneril. Not only, sir, this your all-licens'd fool,
But other of your insolent retinue
Do hourly carp and quarrel, breaking forth
In rank and not-to-be-endured riots. Sir,
I had thought, by making this well known unto you,
To have found a safe redress, but now grow fearful,
By what yourself, too, late have spoke and done,
That you protect this course, and put it on
By your allowance; which if you should, the fault
Would not scape censure, nor the redresses sleep,
Which, in the tender of a wholesome weal,
Might in their working do you that offence
Which else were shame, that then necessity
Must call discreet proceeding.



Lear. Are you our daughter?

Goneril. Come, sir,
I would you would make use of that good wisdom
Whereof I know you are fraught, and put away
These dispositions that of late transform you
From what you rightly are.



Lear. Your name, fair gentlewoman?

Goneril. This admiration, sir, is much o' th' savour
Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you
To understand my purposes aright.
As you are old and reverend, you should be wise.
Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires;
Men so disorder'd, so debosh'd, and bold
That this our court, infected with their manners,
Shows like a riotous inn. Epicurism and lust
Make it more like a tavern or a brothel
Than a grac'd palace. The shame itself doth speak
For instant remedy. Be then desir'd
By her that else will take the thing she begs
A little to disquantity your train,
And the remainder that shall still depend
To be such men as may besort your age,
Which know themselves, and you.



Lear. Darkness and devils!
Saddle my horses! Call my train together!
Degenerate bastard, I'll not trouble thee;
Yet have I left a daughter.

Goneril. You strike my people, and your disorder'd rabble
Make servants of their betters.



Duke of Albany. Now, gods that we adore, whereof comes this?

Goneril. Never afflict yourself to know the cause;
But let his disposition have that scope
That dotage gives it.



(stage directions). Exeunt [Lear, Kent, and Attendants].

Goneril. Do you mark that, my lord?



Duke of Albany. I cannot be so partial, Goneril,
To the great love I bear you—

Goneril. Pray you, content.- What, Oswald, ho!
[To the Fool] You, sir, more knave than fool, after your master!



Fool. Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear, tarry! Take the fool with thee.
A fox when one has caught her,
And such a daughter,
Should sure to the slaughter,
If my cap would buy a halter.
So the fool follows after. Exit.

Goneril. This man hath had good counsel! A hundred knights?
'Tis politic and safe to let him keep
At point a hundred knights; yes, that on every dream,
Each buzz, each fancy, each complaint, dislike,
He may enguard his dotage with their pow'rs
And hold our lives in mercy.- Oswald, I say!



Duke of Albany. Well, you may fear too far.

Goneril. Safer than trust too far.
Let me still take away the harms I fear,
Not fear still to be taken. I know his heart.
What he hath utter'd I have writ my sister.
If she sustain him and his hundred knights,
When I have show'd th' unfitness- [Enter [Oswald the] Steward.]
How now, Oswald?
What, have you writ that letter to my sister?



Oswald. Yes, madam.

Goneril. Take you some company, and away to horse!
Inform her full of my particular fear,
And thereto add such reasons of your own
As may compact it more. Get you gone,
And hasten your return. [Exit Oswald.] No, no, my lord!
This milky gentleness and course of yours,
Though I condemn it not, yet, under pardon,
You are much more at task for want of wisdom
Than prais'd for harmful mildness.



Duke of Albany. How far your eyes may pierce I cannot tell.
Striving to better, oft we mar what's well.

Goneril. Nay then-



Lear. Who stock'd my servant? Regan, I have good hope
Thou didst not know on't.- Who comes here? O heavens!
If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
Allow obedience- if yourselves are old,
Make it your cause! Send down, and take my part!
[To Goneril] Art not asham'd to look upon this beard?-
O Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand?

Goneril. Why not by th' hand, sir? How have I offended?
All's not offence that indiscretion finds
And dotage terms so.



Lear. Return to her, and fifty men dismiss'd?
No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
To wage against the enmity o' th' air,
To be a comrade with the wolf and owl-
Necessity's sharp pinch! Return with her?
Why, the hot-blooded France, that dowerless took
Our youngest born, I could as well be brought
To knee his throne, and, squire-like, pension beg
To keep base life afoot. Return with her?
Persuade me rather to be slave and sumpter
To this detested groom. [Points at Oswald.]

Goneril. At your choice, sir.



Regan. I dare avouch it, sir. What, fifty followers?
Is it not well? What should you need of more?
Yea, or so many, sith that both charge and danger
Speak 'gainst so great a number? How in one house
Should many people, under two commands,
Hold amity? 'Tis hard; almost impossible.

Goneril. Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance
From those that she calls servants, or from mine?



Lear. Those wicked creatures yet do look well-favour'd
When others are more wicked; not being the worst
Stands in some rank of praise. [To Goneril] I'll go with thee.
Thy fifty yet doth double five-and-twenty,
And thou art twice her love.

Goneril. Hear, me, my lord.
What need you five-and-twenty, ten, or five,
To follow in a house where twice so many
Have a command to tend you?



Regan. This house is little; the old man and 's people
Cannot be well bestow'd.

Goneril. 'Tis his own blame; hath put himself from rest
And must needs taste his folly.



Regan. For his particular, I'll receive him gladly,
But not one follower.

Goneril. So am I purpos'd.
Where is my Lord of Gloucester?



Duke of Cornwall. 'Tis best to give him way; he leads himself.

Goneril. My lord, entreat him by no means to stay.



Regan. Hang him instantly.

Goneril. Pluck out his eyes.



Duke of Cornwall. Get horses for your mistress.

Goneril. Farewell, sweet lord, and sister.



(stage directions). Enter Goneril and [Edmund the] Bastard.

Goneril. Welcome, my lord. I marvel our mild husband
Not met us on the way. [Enter Oswald the Steward.]
Now, where's your master?



Oswald. Madam, within, but never man so chang'd.
I told him of the army that was landed:
He smil'd at it. I told him you were coming:
His answer was, 'The worse.' Of Gloucester's treachery
And of the loyal service of his son
When I inform'd him, then he call'd me sot
And told me I had turn'd the wrong side out.
What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him;
What like, offensive.

Goneril. [to Edmund] Then shall you go no further.
It is the cowish terror of his spirit,
That dares not undertake. He'll not feel wrongs
Which tie him to an answer. Our wishes on the way
May prove effects. Back, Edmund, to my brother.
Hasten his musters and conduct his pow'rs.
I must change arms at home and give the distaff
Into my husband's hands. This trusty servant
Shall pass between us. Ere long you are like to hear
(If you dare venture in your own behalf)
A mistress's command. Wear this. [Gives a favour.]
Spare speech.
Decline your head. This kiss, if it durst speak,
Would stretch thy spirits up into the air.
Conceive, and fare thee well.



Edmund. Yours in the ranks of death! Exit.

Goneril. My most dear Gloucester!
O, the difference of man and man!
To thee a woman's services are due;
My fool usurps my body.



(stage directions). Enter Albany.

Goneril. I have been worth the whistle.



Duke of Albany. O Goneril,
You are not worth the dust which the rude wind
Blows in your face! I fear your disposition.
That nature which contemns it origin
Cannot be bordered certain in itself.
She that herself will sliver and disbranch
From her material sap, perforce must wither
And come to deadly use.

Goneril. No more! The text is foolish.



Duke of Albany. Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile;
Filths savour but themselves. What have you done?
Tigers, not daughters, what have you perform'd?
A father, and a gracious aged man,
Whose reverence even the head-lugg'd bear would lick,
Most barbarous, most degenerate, have you madded.
Could my good brother suffer you to do it?
A man, a prince, by him so benefited!
If that the heavens do not their visible spirits
Send quickly down to tame these vile offences,
It will come,
Humanity must perforce prey on itself,
Like monsters of the deep.

Goneril. Milk-liver'd man!
That bear'st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs;
Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning
Thine honour from thy suffering; that not know'st
Fools do those villains pity who are punish'd
Ere they have done their mischief. Where's thy drum?
France spreads his banners in our noiseless land,
With plumed helm thy state begins to threat,
Whiles thou, a moral fool, sit'st still, and criest
'Alack, why does he so?'



Duke of Albany. See thyself, devil!
Proper deformity seems not in the fiend
So horrid as in woman.

Goneril. O vain fool!



Duke of Albany. Thou changed and self-cover'd thing, for shame!
Bemonster not thy feature! Were't my fitness
To let these hands obey my blood,
They are apt enough to dislocate and tear
Thy flesh and bones. Howe'er thou art a fiend,
A woman's shape doth shield thee.

Goneril. Marry, your manhood mew!



Gentleman. Both, both, my lord.
This letter, madam, craves a speedy answer.
'Tis from your sister.

Goneril. [aside] One way I like this well;
But being widow, and my Gloucester with her,
May all the building in my fancy pluck
Upon my hateful life. Another way
The news is not so tart.- I'll read, and answer. Exit.



Edmund. Fear me not.
She and the Duke her husband!
Enter, with Drum and Colours, Albany, Goneril, Soldiers.

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



Regan. Why is this reason'd?

Goneril. Combine together 'gainst the enemy;
For these domestic and particular broils
Are not the question here.



Regan. Sister, you'll go with us?

Goneril. No.



Regan. 'Tis most convenient. Pray you go with us.

Goneril. [aside] O, ho, I know the riddle.- I will go.
[As they are going out,] enter Edgar [disguised].



Regan. That's as we list to grace him.
Methinks our pleasure might have been demanded
Ere you had spoke so far. He led our powers,
Bore the commission of my place and person,
The which immediacy may well stand up
And call itself your brother.

Goneril. Not so hot!
In his own grace he doth exalt himself
More than in your addition.



Regan. In my rights
By me invested, he compeers the best.

Goneril. That were the most if he should husband you.



Regan. Jesters do oft prove prophets.

Goneril. Holla, holla!
That eye that told you so look'd but asquint.



Regan. Lady, I am not well; else I should answer
From a full-flowing stomach. General,
Take thou my soldiers, prisoners, patrimony;
Dispose of them, of me; the walls are thine.
Witness the world that I create thee here
My lord and master.

Goneril. Mean you to enjoy him?



Duke of Albany. Stay yet; hear reason. Edmund, I arrest thee
On capital treason; and, in thine attaint,
This gilded serpent [points to Goneril]. For your claim, fair
I bar it in the interest of my wife.
'Tis she is subcontracted to this lord,
And I, her husband, contradict your banes.
If you will marry, make your loves to me;
My lady is bespoke.

Goneril. An interlude!



Regan. Sick, O, sick!

Goneril. [aside] If not, I'll ne'er trust medicine.



Duke of Albany. Save him, save him!

Goneril. This is mere practice, Gloucester.
By th' law of arms thou wast not bound to answer
An unknown opposite. Thou art not vanquish'd,
But cozen'd and beguil'd.



Duke of Albany. Shut your mouth, dame,
Or with this paper shall I stop it. [Shows her her letter to
- [To Edmund]. Hold, sir.
[To Goneril] Thou worse than any name, read thine own evil.
No tearing, lady! I perceive you know it.

Goneril. Say if I do- the laws are mine, not thine.
Who can arraign me for't?



Duke of Albany. Most monstrous!
Know'st thou this paper?

Goneril. Ask me not what I know. Exit.

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