Act IV - Scene V

Gloucester's castle.

[Enter Regan and Oswald]

But are my brother's powers set forth?
Ay, madam.
Himself in person there?
Madam, with much ado:
Your sister is the better soldier.(5)
Lord Edmund spake not with your lord at home?
No, madam.
What might import my sister's letter to him?
I know not, lady.
Faith, he is posted hence on serious matter.(10)
It was great ignorance, Gloucester's eyes being out,
To let him live: where he arrives he moves
All hearts against us: Edmund, I think,
is gone, In pity of his misery, to dispatch
His nighted life: moreover, to descry(15)
The strength o' the enemy.
I must needs after him, madam, with my letter.
Our troops set forth to-morrow: stay with us;
The ways are dangerous.
I may not, madam:(20)
My lady charged my duty in this business.
Why should she write to Edmund? Might not you
Transport her purposes by word? Belike,
Something—I know not what: I'll love thee much,
Let me unseal the letter.(25)
Madam, I had rather—
I know your lady does not love her husband;
I am sure of that: and at her late being here
She gave strange oeillades and most speaking looks
To noble Edmund. I know you are of her bosom.(30)
I, madam?
I speak in understanding; you are; I know't:
Therefore I do advise you, take this note:
My lord is dead; Edmund and I have talked;
And more convenient is he for my hand(35)
Than for your lady's: you may gather more.
If you do find him, pray you, give him this;
And when your mistress hears thus much from you,
I pray, desire her call her wisdom to her.
So, fare you well.(40)
If you do chance to hear of that blind traitor,
Preferment falls on him that cuts him off.
Would I could meet him, madam! I should show
What party I do follow.
Fare thee well.(45)



  1. This statement is meant to be ironic. Edmund is not going to put an end to his father’s life out of pity but rather to protect his evil ambitions. “Dispatch” in this context means to put an end to.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. The “what” that characterizes Oswald’s allegiance in this line suggests that there is ambiguity in whom he will follow. Because he leaves this scene carrying both Goneril and Regan’s letters, this could be read as Oswald looking out for himself as he can now choose which party to give favor to. Though Oswald has been faithful to Goneril throughout the play, this moment of infidelity reflects the play’s overall theme of chaos in social systems: just as Regan and Goneril did not honor their father, Goneril’s servant has no real loyalty to her.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. Regan and Goneril have already begun moving against one another, showing that their lack of tradition and respect for their father has now extended to their relationship as sisters. With the death of Cornwall, Regan seeks to marry Edmund; with her distaste for Albany, Goneril desires Edmund as a new husband. Both sisters seek to undermine the other, completely disregarding any filial love or respect they may have had for each other.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. Recall that in the previous scene, Cordelia says that she would give all of her wealth to the person who could cure her father’s insanity. Regan is willing to reward the person who murders the blind and elderly Gloucester, underscoring how vastly different she is from Cordelia.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. This is a French that comes from the French for “eye,” or oeil. Regan uses this word to claim that Goneril gave Edmund significant and flirtatious looks.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor