• Enter GONERIL and EDMUND the bastard

    GONERIL

    Welcome, my lord. I marvel our mild husband
    Not met us on the way.
    Enter OSWALD
       Now, where’s your master?

    OSWALD

    Madam, within—but never man so changed.
    I told him of the army that was landed.
    5He smiled at it. I told him you were coming.
    His answer was “The worse.” Of Gloucester’s treachery
    And of the loyal service of his son,
    When I informed him, then he called me “sot,”
    And told me I had turned the wrong side out.
    10What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him;
    What like, offensive.

    GONERIL

    (to EDMUND)
       Then shall you go no further.
    It is the cowish terror of his spirit
    That dares not undertake. He’ll not feel wrongs
    15Which tie him to an answer. Our wishes on the way
    May prove effects. Back, Edmund, to my brother.
    Hasten his musters and conduct his powers.
    I must change names at home, and give the distaff
    Into my husband’s hands. This trusty servant
    20Shall pass between us. Ere long you are like to hear—
    If you dare venture in your own behalf—
    A mistress’s command. Wear this. Spare speech.
    Decline your head. This kiss, if it durst speak,
    Would stretch thy spirits up into the air.
    25 (kisses EDMUND) Conceive, and fare thee well.
  • GONERIL enters with EDMUND.

    GONERIL

    Welcome, my lord. I’m surprised my bland husband didn’t meet me on the way here.
    OSWALD enters.
    Where’s your master?

    OSWALD

    He’s inside, ma'am, but he has changed dramatically since you last saw him. When I told him that the invading army has landed, he just smiled at me. When I told him you were on your way, he replied, “Too bad.” When I told him about Gloucester’s betrayal and his son Edmund’s loyal service, he called me an idiot and said I had it all wrong. He was delighted by the bad news and disgusted by the good news.

    GONERIL

    (to EDMUND) Then don’t come in with me. He’s a coward and can’t commit himself to doing anything risky. He chooses not to be insulted rather than challenge those who offend him. But what we talked about with longing on the way may soon come true. Edmund, go back to see my brother-in-law. Gather his soldiers and organize his troops. I plan to take charge of my household. From now on I will wear the pants, and my husband can play the housewife. We can trust Oswald to carry messages between us. If you act boldly, you will soon obey me as your true mistress. Take this as a token of my esteem. Don’t speak. Lean down. This kiss should encourage you. (she kisses EDMUND ) I hope you understand me. Goodbye, and good luck.

    Edmund

    Goneril may be referring to the beginnings of a romance between her and Edmund.

    EDMUND

    Goneril’s words suggest both that she will take charge and that she will become Edmund’s lover. In many productions, Goneril gives Edmund a chain that she puts around his neck.