• Enter EDMUND the bastard, with a letter

    EDMUND

    Thou, nature, art my goddess. To thy law
    My services are bound. Wherefore should I
    Stand in the plague of custom and permit
    The curiosity of nations to deprive me
    5For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines
    Lag of a brother? Why “bastard”? Wherefore “base”?
    When my dimensions are as well compact,
    My mind as generous, and my shape as true
    As honest madam’s issue? Why brand they us
    10With “base,” with “baseness,” “bastardy,” “base,” “base”—
    Who in the lusty stealth of nature take
    More composition and fierce quality
    Than doth within a dull, stale, tirèd bed
    Go to th' creating a whole tribe of fops
    15Got ’tween a sleep and wake? Well then,
    Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land.
    Our father’s love is to the bastard Edmund
    As to the legitimate.—Fine word, “legitimate”!—
    Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed
    20And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
    Shall top th' legitimate. I grow, I prosper.
    Now, gods, stand up for bastards!
    Enter GLOUCESTER EDMUND looks over his letter

    GLOUCESTER

    Kent banished thus? And France in choler parted?
    And the king gone tonight, prescribed his power
    25Confined to exhibition? All this done
    Upon the gad?—Edmund, how now? What news?
  • EDMUND enters with a letter.

    EDMUND

    I only worship what’s natural, not what’s manmade. Why should I let myself be tortured by manmade social customs that deprive me of my rights simply because I was born twelve or fourteen months later than my older brother? Why do they call me “bastard” and “lowlife” when I’m just as gifted in mind and body as legitimate children? Why do they call us bastards “lowlifes”? Always “lowlife,” “bastard,” “lowlife,” “lowlife.” At least we bastards were conceived in a moment of passionate lust rather than in a dull, tired marriage bed, where half-sleeping parents monotonously churn out a bunch of sissy kids. All right then, legitimate brother Edgar, I have to have your lands. Our father loves me just as much as the legitimate Edgar. What a nice word that is, “legitimate”! Well, my legitimate Edgar, if this letter works and my plan succeeds, Edmund the lowlife will beat the legitimate. Look out, I’m on my way up. Three cheers for bastards!
    GLOUCESTER enters. EDMUND looks over his letter.

    GLOUCESTER

    Kent’s been banished just like that? And the King of France gone in a huff? And King Lear’s abdicated his authority, making his kingship a ceremonial title only? All this so suddenly?—Edmund, what’s going on? What’s the news?