Act III - Scene I

A heath

[Storm still. Enter Kent and a Gentleman, meeting]

Who's there, besides foul weather?
One minded like the weather, most unquietly.
I know you. Where's the king?
Contending with the fretful element:
Bids the winds blow the earth into the sea,(5)
Or swell the curled water 'bove the main,
That things might change or cease; tears his white hair,
Which the impetuous blasts, with eyeless rage,
Catch in their fury, and make nothing of;
Strives in his little world of man to outscorn(10)
The to-and-fro-conflicting wind and rain.
This night, wherein the cub-drawn bear would couch,
The lion and the belly-pinched wolf
Keep their fur dry, unbonneted he runs,
And bids what will take all.(15)
But who is with him?
None but the fool; who labors to outjest
His heart-struck injuries.
Sir, I do know you;
And dare, upon the warrant of my note,(20)
Commend a dear thing to you. There is division,
Although as yet the face of it be covered
With mutual cunning, 'twixt Albany and Cornwall;
Who have—as who have not, that their great stars
Throned and set high?—servants, who seem no less,(25)
Which are to France the spies and speculations
Intelligent of our state; what hath been seen,
Either in snuffs and packings of the dukes,
Or the hard rein which both of them have borne
Against the old kind king; or something deeper,(30)
Whereof perchance these are but furnishings;
But, true it is, from France there comes a power
Into this scattered kingdom; who already,
Wise in our negligence, have secret feet
In some of our best ports, and are at point(35)
To show their open banner. Now to you:
If on my credit you dare build so far
To make your speed to Dover, you shall find
Some that will thank you, making just report
Of how unnatural and bemadding sorrow(40)
The king hath cause to plain.
I am a gentleman of blood and breeding;
And, from some knowledge and assurance, offer
This office to you.
I will talk further with you.(45)
No, do not.
For confirmation that I am much more
Than my out-wall, open this purse, and take
What it contains. If you shall see Cordelia,—
As fear not but you shall,—show her this ring;(50)
And she will tell you who your fellow is
That yet you do not know. Fie on this storm!
I will go seek the king.
Give me your hand: have you no more to say?
Few words, but, to effect, more than all yet;(55)
That, when we have found the king,—in which your pain
That way, I'll this,—he that first lights on him
Holla the other.

[Exeunt severally]


  1. Kent does not have to explicitly tell Cordelia that he is the one communicating; he only has to send her his ring and purse, which he trusts that she will immediately recognize as his. This gesture emphasizes Cordelia’s sight, characterizing her again as being one of the most insightful characters of the play.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. The verb “couch” means to lie down. The Gentleman uses language that associates Lear’s state of mind with nature and animals. Lear’s wild shouts parallel the raging storm, and even the fiercest animals would not dare to make themselves vulnerable to natural forces as Lear does. Lear’s savage fury at the storm emphasizes how his daughter’s betrayal and cruelty has caused him to lash out against nature, an irrational action that reveals his growing madness.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. Pronounced “figh,” “fie” is an interjection means to express distaste, anger, or outrage at someone or something that has occurred. When something is the target of the interjection, it is followed by the preposition “on.” In this context, Kent is expressing his anger at the physical storm happening in the area; however, we can also examine the storm as a metaphor for the disorder happening in the kingdom and the disintegration of the lawful order.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. By “out-wall” Kent is referring to his outward disguise. Kent does not want his identity to be revealed, and thus sends identifying items that only Cordelia would know to be his.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff