King Lear: Diction

3 characters that switch to verse and prose a lot are:

  1. King Lear often switches from verse to prose and I noticed this a lot in the storm scene which was a metaphorical exploration of King Lear’s feelings and how angry he was at the time. Some examples of Lear switching from verse to prose is;

2. Fool also changes between verse and prose quite a bit, I also noticed this in the same scene that Lear did, the storm. He doesn’ t switch as often as some of the characters however he still does in this scene. One of Fools line quotes;


O nuncle, court holy-water in a dry
house is better than this rain-water out o’ door.
Good nuncle, in, and ask thy daughters’ blessing:
here’s a night pities neither wise man nor fool.

This is Prose, however on the next line the Fool speaks is Verse;


He that has a house to put’s head in has a good
The cod-piece that will house
Before the head has any,
The head and he shall louse;
So beggars marry many.
The man that makes his toe
What he his heart should make
Shall of a corn cry woe,
And turn his sleep to wake.
For there was never yet fair woman but she made
mouths in a glass.

This is the next line that Fool speaks and as you can see it is using Verse, lines with a metrical rhythm. I think that he does this as ways of getting messages across and showing status because he uses verse and prose at separate times. It illustrates different circumstances to us.

The third character that often switches between verse and prose is Edgar, here are a coupe of his lines demonstrating both verse and prose;


This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet: he begins
at curfew, and walks till the first cock; he gives
the web and the pin, squints the eye, and makes the
hare-lip; mildews the white wheat, and hurts the
poor creature of earth.
S. Withold footed thrice the old;
He met the night-mare, and her nine-fold;
Bid her alight,
And her troth plight,
And, aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!


Poor Tom; that eats the swimming frog, the toad,
the tadpole, the wall-newt and the water; that in
the fury of his heart, when the foul fiend rages,
eats cow-dung for sallets; swallows the old rat and
the ditch-dog; drinks the green mantle of the
standing pool; who is whipped from tithing to
tithing, and stock- punished, and imprisoned; who
hath had three suits to his back, six shirts to his
body, horse to ride, and weapon to wear;
But mice and rats, and such small deer,
Have been Tom’s food for seven long year.
Beware my follower. Peace, Smulkin; peace, thou fiend!

In this Edgar switches between verse and prose in the same line. He then goes back to just Prose for a lot of his lines but commonly switches between the two.

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