In King Lear Shakespeare delivers a play with many enduring quotes. As with so many of his plays Shakespeare brings the characters to life with memorable dialogue and some fantastic quotes, many in the form of thought provoking sayings, such as “How sharper than a serpents tooth to have a thankless child”. Read our selection of the very best and most well known King Lear quotes below, along with speaker, act and scene.

“Nothing will come of nothing: speak again.”

Lear (act 1, scene 1)

“Love’s not love
When it is mingled with regards that stand
Aloof from th’ entire point.”

France (act 1, scene 1)

This is the excellent foppery of the world, that,
when we are sick in fortune,–often the surfeit
of our own behavior,–we make guilty of our
disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars: as
if we were villains by necessity; fools by
heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and
treachers, by spherical predominance; drunkards,
liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of
planetary influence; and all that we are evil in,
by a divine thrusting on: an admirable evasion
of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish
disposition to the charge of a star.”

Edmund (act 1, scene 2)

“Who is it that can tell me who I am?”

Lear (act 1, scene 4)

“Mark it, nuncle.
Have more than thou showest,
Speak less than thou knowest,
Lend less than thou owest,
Ride more than thou goest,
Learn more than thou trowest,
Set less than thou throwest,
Leave thy drink and thy whore
And keep in-a-door,
And thou shalt have more
Than two tens to a score.”

Fool (act 1, scene 4)

“How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is To have a thankless child!”

Lear (act 1, scene 4)

“Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.”

Fool (act 1, scene 5)

“A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a
base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited,
hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a
lily-livered, action-taking knave, a whoreson,
glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogue;
one-trunk-inheriting slave”

Kent (act 2, scene 2)

“The prince of darkness is a gentleman!”

Edgar (act 3, scene 1)

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drenched our teeples, drowned the cocks!
You sulphurour and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Strike flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!
Crack nature’s molds, all germens spill at once
That make ingrateful man!”

Lear (act 3, scene 2)

“I am a man more sinned against than sinning”

Lear (act 3, scene 2)

“The art of our necessities is strange
That can make vile things precious.”

Lear (act 3, scene 2)

“When the
mind’s free,
The Body’s delicate.”

Lear (act 3, scene 4)

“This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen.”

Fool (act 3, scene 4)

“When we our betters see bearing our woes,
We scarcely think our miseries our foes.”

Edgar (act 3, scene 6)

“As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods.
They kill us for their sport.”

Gloucester (act 4, scene 1)

“And worse I may be yet: the worst is not
So long as we can say ‘This is the worst.”

Edgar (act 4, scene 1)

“You are not worth the dust which the rude wind blows in your face”

Albany (act 4, scene 2)

“When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.”

Lear (act 4, scene 6)

“O, let me kiss that hand!”

Gloucester (act 4, scene 6)

“ Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.”

Lear (act 4, scene 6)

“Men must endure
Their going hence, even as their coming hither.
Ripeness is all.”

Edgar (act 5, scene 2)

“Jesters do oft prove prophets.”

Regan (act 5, scene 3)

“The weight of this sad time we must obey,
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most: we that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.”

Edgar (act 5, scene 3)

“No, no, no, no! Come, let’s away to prison:
We two alone will sing like birds i’ the cage:
When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel down,
And ask of thee forgiveness: so we’ll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news; and we’ll talk with them too,
Who loses and who wins; who’s in, who’s out;
And take upon’s the mystery of things,
As if we were God’s spies: and we’ll wear out,
In a wall’d prison, packs and sects of great ones,
That ebb and flow by the moon.”

Lear (act 5, scene 3)

Are any of your favourite King Lear quotes missing from the above list? Let us know in the comments below.

King lear quote pinterest graphic featuring


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