King Lear and Kent Essay example

Submitted By robe-full
Words: 4723
Pages: 19

Beating him

OSWALD
Help, ho! murder! murder!
Enter EDMUND, with his rapier drawn, CORNWALL, REGAN, GLOUCESTER, and Servants

EDMUND
How now! What's the matter?
KENT
With you, goodman boy, an you please: come, I'll flesh ye; come on, young master.
GLOUCESTER
Weapons! arms! What 's the matter here?
CORNWALL
Keep peace, upon your lives:
He dies that strikes again. What is the matter?
REGAN
The messengers from our sister and the king.
CORNWALL
What is your difference? speak.
OSWALD
I am scarce in breath, my lord.
KENT
No marvel, you have so bestirred your valour. You cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee: a tailor made thee.
CORNWALL
Thou art a strange fellow: a tailor make a man?
KENT
Ay, a tailor, sir: a stone-cutter or painter could not have made him so ill, though he had been but two hours at the trade.
CORNWALL
Speak yet, how grew your quarrel?
OSWALD
This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spared at suit of his gray beard,--
KENT
Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter! My lord, if you will give me leave, I will tread this unbolted villain into mortar, and daub the wall of a jakes with him. Spare my gray beard, you wagtail?
CORNWALL
Peace, sirrah!
You beastly knave, know you no reverence?
KENT
Yes, sir; but anger hath a privilege.
CORNWALL
Why art thou angry?
KENT
That such a slave as this should wear a sword,
Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these,
Like rats, oft bite the holy cords a-twain
Which are too intrinse t' unloose; smooth every passion
That in the natures of their lords rebel;
Bring oil to fire, snow to their colder moods;
Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks
With every gale and vary of their masters,
Knowing nought, like dogs, but following.
A plague upon your epileptic visage!
Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?
Goose, if I had you upon Sarum plain,
I'ld drive ye cackling home to Camelot.
CORNWALL
Why, art thou mad, old fellow?
GLOUCESTER
How fell you out? say that.
KENT
No contraries hold more antipathy
Than I and such a knave.
CORNWALL
Why dost thou call him a knave? What's his offence?
KENT
His countenance likes me not.
CORNWALL
No more, perchance, does mine, nor his, nor hers.
KENT
Sir, 'tis my occupation to be plain:
I have seen better faces in my time
Than stands on any shoulder that I see
Before me at this instant.
CORNWALL
This is some fellow,
Who, having been praised for bluntness, doth affect
A saucy roughness, and constrains the garb
Quite from his nature: he cannot flatter, he,
An honest mind and plain, he must speak truth!
An they will take it, so; if not, he's plain.
These kind of knaves I know, which in this plainness
Harbour more craft and more corrupter ends
Than twenty silly ducking observants
That stretch their duties nicely.
KENT
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,--
CORNWALL
What mean'st by this?
KENT
To go out of my dialect, which you discommend so much. I know, sir, I am no flatterer: he that beguiled you in a plain accent was a plain knave; which for my part
I will not be, though I should win your displeasure to entreat me to 't.
CORNWALL
What was the offence you gave him?
OSWALD
I never gave him any:
It pleased the king his master very late
To strike at me, upon his misconstruction;
When he, conjunct and flattering his displeasure,
Tripp'd me behind; being down, insulted, rail'd,
And put upon him such a deal of man,
That worthied him, got praises of the king
For him attempting who was self-subdued;
And, in the fleshment of this dread exploit,
Drew on me here again.
KENT
None of these rogues and cowards
But Ajax is their fool.
CORNWALL
Fetch forth the stocks!
You stubborn ancient knave, you reverend braggart,
We'll teach you--
KENT
Sir, I am too old to learn:
Call not your stocks for me: I serve the…