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In Act 2, Scene 4, Goneril asks her father why he needs “five and twenty, ten, or five” men to attend upon him. When Regan one-ups her sister by then asking Lear: “What need one?” Lear’s response is:

O, reason not the need: our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous:
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man's life's as cheap as beast's: thou art a lady;
If only to go warm were gorgeous,
Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st,
Which scarcely keeps thee warm. But, for true need,--
You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!
You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,
As full of grief as age; wretched in both!
If it be you that stir these daughters' hearts
Against their father, fool me not so much
To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger,
And let not women's weapons, water-drops,
Stain my man's cheeks! No, you unnatural hags,
I will have such revenges on you both,
That all the world shall--I will do such things,--
What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be
The terrors of the earth.

Lear’s recourse to the language of “nature” and the “unnatural” here makes a point of comparison between:


the gorgeousness of the natural world and the monstrousness of Goneril and Regan.


the sufficiency of the natural world and the surfeit of Goneril and Regan.


man’s material distinction from animals and Lear’s daughters’ resemblance to devils.


the logic of the animal world and the unreasonable demands that Goneril and Regan are making of their father.


the supernatural gift of patience and the unnatural thirst for familial revenge that Lear’s daughters are causing in him.

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