King Lear Compassion and Forgiveness Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton edition.
Be your tears wet? yes, 'faith. I pray, weep not:
If you have poison for me, I will drink it.
I know you do not love me; for your sisters
Have, as I do remember, done me wrong:
You have some cause, they have not.
No cause, no cause. (4.7.5)
This is, perhaps, the most tender of moments in the play. When Lear awakens and finds his daughter at his bedside, he acknowledges the way he's hurt Cordelia and admits that she has "some cause" to wish him harm. Yet, despite everything, Cordelia finds it within herself to utter "no cause, no cause."
Kent, sir, the banish'd Kent; who in disguise
Follow'd his enemy king, and did him service
Improper for a slave. (5.3.217-219)
Cordelia's not the only one who forgives Lear's terrible behavior. Even after Kent is banished by his king (for no good reason, we night add), he still finds a way to serve his "enemy king." Kent disguises himself as "Caius" so he can get a job being Lear's servant. Now that's devotion, wouldn't you say?
Let's exchange charity.
I am no less in blood than thou art, Edmund;
If more, the more thou hast wrong'd me. (5.3.11)
After Edgar stabs his evil brother in the guts, he decides it's time to "exchange" forgiveness. Awe, how sweet. But wait a minute, is this supposed to be a touching moment or not? At first, Edgar seems to make an offer of peace, by saying that, even though he (Edgar) is a legitimate son and Edmund is a "bastard," he's no better than Edmund. Touching, right? Not so fast. Edgar continues on to say something like: "But if I am better than you, you've wronged me even more than I thought." Sounds like a backhanded compliment to us. (Did we mention that Edgar says all of this while Edmund's bleeding out of his guts?)