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King Lear

Critique • Quotes • Text

King Lear title page 1619Title page 1619 quarto
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Also known as
The Tragedy of King Lear

c. 1603–1606

First performance
c. 1606

First publication

Literature form


Writing language

Author's country

Five acts, 3,487 lines, approx. 25,000 words

Notable lines

I thought the king had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall.

— First lines

Although the last, not least.


How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is,
To have a thankless child!


OSWALD. What dost thou know me for?
KENT. A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking, whoreson, glass-gazing, super-serviceable, finical rogue; one trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch: one whom I will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deniest the least syllable of thy addition.


I am a man,
More sinn'd against than sinning.


...the worst is not,
So long as we can say, This is the worst. 


As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods, —
They kill us for their sport.


Fool: The reason why the seven stars are no more than seven is a pretty reason.
Lear: Because they are not eight?
Fool: Yes, indeed. Thou wouldst make a good fool.


Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!


Oh, that way madness lies.


The oldest hath borne most: we that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.

— Last lines


Critique • Quotes • Text