WORD LISTS

"King Lear" by William Shakespeare, Act II

February 8, 2013
In this tragedy, King Lear's plan to divide his kingdom between his three daughters leads to his downfall when he misjudges their true feelings.

Here are links to all our for the play: Act I, Act II, Act III, Act IV, Act V

Here are links to our lists for other plays by William Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Hamlet, King Lear, Julius Caesar, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, Othello, A Midsummer Night's Dream
manifold
On the surface, Edmund is making himself look good to Gloucester by pretending that he had tried to convince Edgar not to kill their father. But Shakespeare's use of the word "manifold" can be seen as a hint to how Edmund has so many forms that he can't be trusted.
But that I told him the revenging gods
'Gainst parricides did all the thunder bend,
Spoke, with how manifold and strong a bond
The child was bound to the father
dullard
And thou must make a dullard of the world,
If they not thought the profits of my death
Were very pregnant and potential spirits
To make thee seek it.
riotous
Was he not companion with the riotous knights
That tended upon my father?
knave
Note how Kent repeats "knave"--this makes the string of insults seem more comical, but it also shows how Kent, an earl who's often in the presence of other nobles, would not know many different insults.
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 knave, a 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:
base
Other definitions of "base" are: not genuine, illegitimate, and immoral. These definitions could also fit, but most of the insults in the example sentence focus on Oswald's low birth. In having Kent insult Oswald in this way, Shakespeare is also mocking Kent by showing that Kent is not doing a good job of pretending to be a servant.
A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a
base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited,
hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave;
rogue
a lily-livered, action-taking knave, a whoreson,
glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogue;
clamorous
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.
brazen
The definition is for "brazen" as a verb but the example sentence is using the word as part of a hyphenated adjective describing the noun "varlet" (which is a synonym for "knave").
What a brazen-faced varlet art thou, to deny thou
knowest me!
disclaim
The word "nature" should be capitalized since Kent is personifying it here by claiming that Oswald is such a horrible person that Mother Nature would disclaim having made him. Compare this to Lear's disclaiming of all paternal care for Cordelia in Act 1.
You cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee:
a tailor made thee.
ruffian
This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spared
at suit of his gray beard, --
renege
Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks
With every gale and vary of their masters,
Knowing naught, like dogs, but following.
visage
A plague upon your epileptic visage!
antipathy
No contraries hold more antipathy
Than I and such a knave.
saucy
This is some fellow
Who, having been praised for bluntness, doth affect
A saucy roughness, and constrains the garb
Quite from his nature.
verity
On the surface, Kent appears to be sincerely saying great things about Cornwall, but he is taking the flattery so far that there is more mockery than verity in his words.
Sir, in good sooth, in sincere verity,
Under the allowance of your great aspect,
Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire
On flickering Phoebus' front--
malice
You shall do small respect, show too bold malice
Against the grace and person of my master,
Stocking his messenger.
wretch
The definition is for "wretch" as a verb but the example sentence uses it as a noun. A wretch can be someone you feel sorry for, and Gloucester does in the same scene say he feels sorry for Kent. But here, he is asking Cornwall not to punish Lear's servant as he would a common criminal, because that would be an insult to Lear.
Your purposed low correction
Is such as basest and contemned'st wretches
For pilferings and most common trespasses
Are punished with.
naught
Thy sister's naught:
depraved
O Regan she hath tied
Sharp-toothed unkindness, like a vulture, here.
I can scarce speak to thee. Thou'lt not believe
With how depraved a quality -- O Regan!
unsightly
Good sir, no more; these are unsightly tricks:
scornful
You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames
Into her scornful eyes!
fickle
This is a slave whose easy-borrowed pride
Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows.
indiscretion
"Indiscretion" can also mean "a petty misdeed" but Goneril is not accusing Lear of doing anything wrong. Instead, she is defending herself by saying that Lear lacks the ability to fairly judge her actions; she also insults him further with the word "dotage".
All's not offence that indiscretion finds
And dotage terms so.
abjure
Having given up his kingly powers, disowned Cordelia, and cursed Goneril, Lear does not have much left that he can reject. At the point of this example sentence, Lear thinks he can still rely on Regan, but upon discovering that she is even less welcoming than Goneril of him and his 100 knights, he is forced to carry out his proud threat to "abjure all roofs".
No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
To wage against the enmity of the air.
chide
Calling Goneril a "boil", "sore" and "carbuncle" IS chiding. This sentence shows how Lear is struggling between childish name-calling and patient dignity.
Thou art a boil,
A plague-sore or embossed carbuncle
In my corrupted blood. But I'll not chide thee;

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