King Lear

Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law


King Lear

See more monologues from William Shakespeare


Age Range
Act 1, Scene 2
Time & Place
The home or grounds of the Duke of Gloucester / Ancient Britain (though the setting is often changed to a different time period, depending on the production)
Time Period
Show Type

Monologue Context

Edmund is the bastard son of the Earl of Gloucester. The Duke has acknowledged and

Monologue Text

Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law
My services are bound. Wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
For that I am some twelve or fourteen moon-shines
Lag of a brother? Why bastard? wherefore base?
When my dimensions are as well compact,
My mind as generous, and my shape as true,
As honest madam's issue? Why brand they us
With base? with baseness? bastardy? base, base?
Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take
More composition and fierce quality
Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed,
Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops,
Got 'tween asleep and wake? Well, then,
Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land:
Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund
As to the legitimate: fine word,--legitimate!
Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed,
And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
Shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper:
Now, gods, stand up for bastards!

Shakespeare, William. King Lear, Act 1, Scene 2, ll.1-22

Video Examples

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