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King Lear

King Lear


by William Shakespeare

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.

Quote #1

[…] Shut up your doors:
He is attended with a desperate train,
And what they may incense him to, being apt
To have his ear abused, wisdom bids fear.
Shut up your doors, my lord. 'Tis a wild night.
My Regan counsels well. Come out o' th' storm. (2.4.348-353)

Regan seems pretty cold-blooded, don't you think? Not only has she driven her aging father from her home and out into the storm, she also orders her husband to lock the doors behind him! There's no compassion in Regan (or her sister Goneril, for that matter).

Quote #2

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
That can make vile things precious. Come, your
Poor Fool and knave, I have one part in my heart
That's sorry yet for thee. (3.2.73-80)

Even while Lear teeters on the brink of insanity, he feels pity for the Fool. Mr. T would be proud.

Quote #3

Poor naked wretches, whereso'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
From seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en
Too little care of this. Take physic, pomp.
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou may'st shake the superflux to them,
And show the heavens more just (3.4.32-41)

Up until now, King Lear has never really thought about the plight of homelessness. This is the first time he acknowledges the "poor naked wretches" in his kingdom as he realizes that he hasn't done enough to solve the homeless problem. Lear's compassion moves him to acknowledge that he should have done something about it when he had the power and authority to make a difference.

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