• Enter GLOUCESTER, LEAR, KENT disguised, FOOL, and EDGAR disguised

    GLOUCESTER

    Here is better than the open air. Take it thankfully. I will piece out the comfort with what addition I can. I will not be long from you.

    KENT

    All the power of his wits have given way to his impatience.
    5The gods reward your kindness!
    Exit GLOUCESTER

    EDGAR

    Frateretto calls me and tells me Nero is an angler in the lake of darkness. Pray, innocent, and beware the foul fiend.

    FOOL

    Prithee, nuncle, tell me whether a madman be a gentleman or a yeoman?

    LEAR

    10A king, a king!

    FOOL

    No, he’s a yeoman that has a gentleman to his son, for he’s a mad yeoman that sees his son a gentleman before him.

    LEAR

    To have a thousand with red burning spits
    Come hissing in upon 'em!

    EDGAR

    15The foul fiend bites my back.
  • GLOUCESTER enters with LEAR, the FOOL, and KENT and EDGAR, both in disguise.

    GLOUCESTER

    It’s better here than outside. Be happy about it. I’ll do what I can to make you even more comfortable. I won’t be gone long.

    KENT

    He can’t bear his grief and so he’s losing his mind. May God reward you for your kindness!
    GLOUCESTER exits.

    EDGAR

    The devil Frateretto is telling me that the diabolical Roman emperor Nero likes to go fishing in hell. Pray to the gods, you fool, and beware the foul devil.

    Nero

    Nero was a first-century A.D. Roman emperor who, according to legend, played the fiddle while Rome burned.

    FOOL

    Here’s a riddle, uncle. Is the lunatic a gentleman or an ordinary guy?

    LEAR

    He’s a king, a king!

    FOOL

    No, he’s an ordinary guy who ’s got a gentleman for a son, since someone would have to be crazy to let his son become a gentleman before he’s achieved that distinction himself.

    LEAR

    I see Regan and Goneril in hell—A thousand hissing devils with sizzling red pitchforks come up to them!

    EDGAR

    The nasty devil’s biting my butt.