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King Lear

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“So distribution should undo excess”: Act 4, Scene 1

KINGLR-RVC1AB

At the end of Act 4, Scene, 1, the recently-blinded Gloucester says this to Edgar, who is still disguised as Poor Tom:

Here, take this purse, thou whom the heavens' plagues
Have humbled to all strokes: that I am wretched
Makes thee the happier: heavens, deal so still!
Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man,
That slaves your ordinance, that will not see
Because he doth not feel, feel your power quickly;
So distribution should undo excess,
And each man have enough.

The last five lines of this excerpt in particular are a sentiment that echoes something Lear says earlier on the heath. This sentiment is:

A

“Here I stand, your slave,
A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man:
But yet I call you servile ministers,
That have with two pernicious daughters join'd
Your high engender'd battles 'gainst a head
So old and white as this.” (Act 3, Scene 2)

B

“The art of our necessities is strange,
That can make vile things precious.” (Act 3, Scene 2)

C

“Thou think'st 'tis much that this contentious storm
Invades us to the skin: so 'tis to thee;
But where the greater malady is fix'd,
The lesser is scarce felt.” (Act 3, Scene 4)

D

“Take physic, pomp;
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou mayst shake the superflux to them,
And show the heavens more just.” (Act 3, Scene 4)

E

“Is man no more than this? Consider him well. Thou
owest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep
no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha! here's three on
's are sophisticated! Thou art the thing itself:
unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor bare,
forked animal as thou art.” (Act 3, Scene 4)