• Enter GONERIL and her steward OSWALD

    GONERIL

    Did my father strike my gentleman
    For chiding of his fool?

    OSWALD

       Ay, madam.

    GONERIL

    By day and night he wrongs me. Every hour
    He flashes into one gross crime or other
    5That sets us all at odds. I’ll not endure it.
    His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids us
    On every trifle. When he returns from hunting,
    I will not speak with him. Say I am sick.
    If you come slack of former services,
    10You shall do well. The fault of it I’ll answer.

    OSWALD

    He’s coming, madam. I hear him.
    Hunting horns within

    GONERIL

    Put on what weary negligence you please,
    You and your fellow servants. I’ll have it come to question.
    If he distaste it, let him to our sister,
    15Whose mind and mine I know in that are one,
    Not to be overruled. Idle old man
    That still would manage those authorities
    That he hath given away! Now by my life,
    Old fools are babes again and must be used
    20With checks as flatteries, when they are seen abused.
    Remember what I have said.

    OSWALD

         Very well, madam.
  • GONERIL enters with her steward, OSWALD.

    GONERIL

    Did my father hit one of my attendants for scolding his fool?

    OSWALD

    Yes, ma'am.

    GONERIL

    He constantly offends me. Every hour he comes out with some horrible new offense that puts us all on edge. I won’t stand for it. His knights are getting out of control, and he himself reprimands us about every little detail. When he comes back from hunting, I’m not going to speak to him. Tell him I’m sick. And if you’re not as attentive in serving him as you used to be, that’ll be good. I’ll take responsibility for it.

    OSWALD

    He’s coming, ma'am. I hear him.
    Hunting horns play offstage.

    GONERIL

    Be as lazy and neglectful as you like around him—you and the other servants. I want it to become an issue. If he doesn’t like it, he can go live with my sister. I know she feels the same way about him that I do, and she’ll stand her ground. That useless old man still thinks he can wield all the powers he’s given away. I swear, old fools become like babies again. You can’t just flatter them; you also have to discipline them when you see that they’re misguided. Remember what I’ve told you.

    OSWALD

    Very well, ma'am.