Characters - Quotes + Critics

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Lear

Quotes 

  • 'Come, lets away to prison' and 'sing like birds 'i th' cage' 
  • 'When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down and ask of thee forgiveness' 
  • 'How dost, by boy? Art cold?' 'In, boy, go first'
  • 'You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!' 'Let fall your horrible pleasure' 
  • 'unaccommodated man' 'Off, off, you lendings!' 
  • 'We'll have supper i' th' morning' 
  • 'the tempest in my mind' 
  • 'I gave you all' 'I have ta'en too little care of this' 'I am old and foolish' 

Critics 

  • Hal Holbrook: 'Boisterous, demanding, arrogant. He expects absolute obedience'.
  • Stanley: 'the real fool here is Lear himself' 
  • Tony Coult: 'Diaster starts with the political act of dividing up the state'
  • Edward Dowden: 'Lear is the greatest sufferer in Shakespeare's plays' 
  • LC Knights: 'Lear's final discovery is of his need for Cordelia's love'
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Cordelia

Quotes 

  • 'According to my bond, no more nor less'
  • 'your majesty'
  • 'singing aloud, crowded by a rank fumier and furrow-weeds' 'as mad as the vexed sea' (about Lear)
  • 'I cannot heave my heart into my mouth'
  • 'Time will unfold what plighted cunning hides'

Critics 

  • Tolstoy: Argues that Cordelia refuses to quatify her love for Lear 'on purpose to irritate her father' 
  • Martin Old: 'Cordelia establishes herself as a model of sensible virtue'
  • John Knox: 'Women are commanded to be subject to men by the laws of nature' 
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Goneril + Regan

Quotes

  • 'the laws are mine, not thine' (G)
  • 'milky gentleness' (G)
  • 'pluck out his...eyes' 'Put in his legs' (R) 
  • 'old fools are babes again' (G)
  • 'sweet lord' (R)
  • 'i had rather lose the battle than that sister should loosen him and me' (G)

Critics 

  • Tiffany C Baker: 'Regan's refusal to bow to her father's wishes upset the established hierachy of the patriarchal system' 
  • Thorndike: 'Inhuman sisters'
  • Rubio: 'Goneril and Regan are prseented as demons, monsters, anything but human' 
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Edmund

Quotes 

  • 'Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit' 
  • 'Fly, brother, fly'
  • 'Which one of them shall I take? Both? One? Or neither?' 
  • 'Edmund the base, shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper.'
  • 'Why rand they us with base? With baseness? Bastardy? Base, base?'
  • 'Some good I mean to do despite of mine own nature' 'This speech of yours hath moved me'
  • 'The wheel is come full circle' 
  • 'Yet Edmund was beloved' 

Critics 

  • Race Capet: 'Edmund ranks among the most despised figures of Shakespearean drama' 
  • A.C Bradley: 'His attitude is that of a professional criminal'
    'Edmund regards men and women as merely hindrances'
    'Edmund's illegitimacy...influences our feelings...it separates him from other men' 
  • Joseph Carroll: 'Many readers feel sympathy for a disadvantaged young man who's determiend to make his own way in the world'. 
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Gloucester

Quotes 

  • 'Villain, villain!' 'Unnatural' 
  • 'all dark and comfortless' 
  • 'O my follies! Then Edgar was abused!' 
  • 'Kind gods, forgive me that' 
  • 'As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods, they kill us for their sport' 
  • 'Tis times' plague when madmen lead the blind' 
  • 'I have a son... who is no dearer in my account' 

Critics 

  • A.C. Bradley: 'The parallel between Lear and Gloucester... is so marked it cannot possibly be accidental' 
  • Rob Worrall: 'Gloucester spends most of the play learning from his mistakes' 
  • Lofgren: 'Gloucester is the symbol of blindness, both literally speaking and metaphorically speaking' 
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Edgar

Quotes

  • 'Edgar I nothing am' 
  • 'Draw thy sword' 
  • 'Thou art a traitor' 'toad-spotted traitor' 
  • 'bear free and patient thoughts' 
  • 'I smell the blood of a British man' 

Critics 

  • Tolstoy: 'Edgar's escape is utterly imcomprehensible'
  • Rebecca Warren: 'Edgar becomes an agent of justice' 
  • Mark Schwehn: 'Edgar's disguise both coneals him and reveals him' 
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Kent

Quotes 

  • 'good king'
  • 'noble master'
  • 'I have a journey, sir, shortly to go. My master calls me, I must not say no'
  • 'Sir, 'tis my occupation to be plain' 
  • 'you rascal...beggarly...whoreson...'

Critics 

  • Michael Billington: 'There is something epic about the fact that the loyal Kent is enchained under a heroic, Soviet-like statue of Lear' 
  • Helen Gardner: 'The scene fo Kent's quarrel with Oswald... always arouses delighted laughter in the theatre and affords genuine relief to the audience's feelings' 
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Cornwall

Quotes 

  • 'untimely comes this hurt'
  • 'Out, vile jelly!' 
  • 'Fetch forth the stocks!'
  • 'Bind fast his corky arms' 

Critics 

  • McLeish: 'Cornwall's part is small, and in one mode only: cold hearted cruelty'
  • Boyce: 'His death is proof that triumph of villainy will not be total'
  • Kyle Broussard: 'Cornwall is a hyena' 
    'Master of manipulation'
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The Fool

Quotes 

  • 'She that's a maid now and laughs at my departure/ shall not be a maid long unless things be cut shorter' 
  • 'nuncle'
  • 'be merry'
  • 'Speak less than thou knowest'
  • 'the egg i' th' middle'
  • 'And I'll go to bed at noon' 

Critics 

  • George Orwell: the Fool's 'jokes, riddles and scraps of rhyme... are like a trickle of sanity running though the play'
  • Sean Lowe: 'the full purpose of the Fool is to stress Lear's poor judgement' 
  • Tolstoy: The Fool is 'utterly unsuited to the position and serves no purpose'
  • G.Wilson Knight: 'the Fool 'attempts to heal the gaping wound of the mind' 
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