Notes on Act V, scene iii

good guard: guard them well

their greater pleasures: the will of those in command

censure: judge

meaning: good intentions

God's spies: looking down from heaven, seeing all

wear out: outlive

moon: whose fortunes change by the month

brand from heaven: only the gods can part us (in death), like hunters scare out foxes with fire

fell: skin

advanced: promoted; possibly Edmund has just now promoted him by calling him "captain"

as the time is: as occasion demands; successful men take advantage of opportunity

become: befit

bear question: don't waste time deliberating

write happy: consider yourself fortunate

eat dried oats: I'm not a horse but a man

opposites: opponents

charms: Lear's old age and title might win the common people's sympathy if they saw him

turn our impressed lances: turn our conscripted lancers (common men forced to serve) against us

session: trial

best quarrels: even the most worthy arguments, in a time of anger, are best left to later when tempers cool

subject: subordinate

list: choose; it's my decision whether or not he will be your brother-in-law

powers: armies

immediacy: being next in place to me

hot: not so fast

grace: qualities

addition: what you would give him (by marriage)

compeers: equals

asquint: cross-eyed, not to be trusted

let-alone: permission

attaint: sharing in his crime

serpent: Goneril

contradict your bans: prohibit your announcement of marriage to Edmund

bespoke: spoken for (Albany speaks sarcastically)

interlude: a scene from a play; "how dramatic!"

single virtue: fight alone

quality: rank

canker-bit: eaten by worms

cope: fight

maugre: in spite of

fire-new: fresh from the forge

prince: Albany

tongue: your speech implies that you are a man of good breeding

safe and nicely I might well delay: by  the rules of knighthood, I could remain safe and justly (nicely) refuse to fight an unknown opponent, but I reject those rules and will fight.

bruise: your lies calling me a traitor do not hurt me but nevertheless I will by my sword put them to rest forever

Save him: spare him (so he can confess his crimes)

practice: trickery

cozened: deceived

Hold, sir: in Q Albany addresses his wife only, forcing her to admit she wrote the letter plotting against his life. In F he speaks to Edmund, while Goneril tries to snatch the letter away.

charity: forgiveness

just: This statement sounds cruel coming from Edgar, at first appearing to say that his father deserved his blinding to pay for his adultery. However, this justice resembles more what we find in Greek tragedy, where justice (diké in Greek) means cosmic balance, "what goes around comes around," not moral justice which rights a wrong.

got: begot (Gloucester paid for his adultery by losing his eyes)

wheel: of fortune has turned; where once Edmund rose to the top, he now lies at the bottom

proclamation: the sentence on his life

sweetness: we love life so much that we are willing to suffer many "deaths" rather than end it all quickly

shift: disguise myself

habit: attire 

rings: eye sockets

period: limit

extremity: to tell of more troubles (Kent's) would make our excessive sorrow even greater (but he tells it anyway)

big in clamour: crying loudly

puissant: overpowering

tranced: passed out

marry: joined forever in death

compliment: ceremony

very manners: mere decency

writ: order to kill

office: commission

fordid: committed suicide

stones: without feeling

stone: glass

end: doomsday

falchion: small sword

crosses: troubles spoil my strength

Caius: Kent's alias (mentioned only here)

see that straight: I'll attend to that in a moment

first of difference: from the beginning of your decline

bootless: useless

old majesty: Lear; Albany gives his authority back to Lear, assuming he will live longer

boot: good measure

fool: used as a term of endearment for Cordelia

vex not his ghost: don't trouble his spirit by holding it here on earth

rack: torture instrument

usurped: held onto life beyond his time

you twain: Albany suggests either that Kent and Edgar rule over Cornwall's part of the realm, or that Albany abdicates his portion of the kingdom as well.

gored state sustain: keep this wounded country alive

journey: he goes to join his master in death; he has no desire to live without Lear


Back to Act V, scene iii

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