Act 4, Scene 2
Enter GONERIL and EDMUND the bastard
GONERIL enters with EDMUND.
Welcome, my lord. I marvel our mild husband
Not met us on the way.
Welcome, my lord. I’m surprised my bland husband didn’t meet me on the way here.
Now, where’s your master?
Where’s your master?
Madam, within—but never man so changed.
I told him of the army that was landed.
He smiled at it. I told him you were coming.
His answer was “The worse.” Of Gloucester’s treachery
And of the loyal service of his son,
When I informed him, then he called me “sot,”
And told me I had turned the wrong side out.
What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him;
What like, offensive.
He’s inside, ma'am, but he has changed dramatically since you last saw him. When I told him that the invading army has landed, he just smiled at me. When I told him you were on your way, he replied, “Too bad.” When I told him about Gloucester’s betrayal and his son Edmund’s loyal service, he called me an idiot and said I had it all wrong. He was delighted by the bad news and disgusted by the good news.
Then shall you go no further.
It is the cowish terror of his spirit
That dares not undertake. He’ll not feel wrongs
Which tie him to an answer. Our wishes on the way
May prove effects. Back, Edmund, to my brother.
Hasten his musters and conduct his powers.
I must change names at home, and give the distaff
Into my husband’s hands. This trusty servant
Shall pass between us. Ere long you are like to hear—
If you dare venture in your own behalf—
A mistress’s command. Wear this. Spare speech.
Decline your head. This kiss, if it durst speak,
Would stretch thy spirits up into the air.
(kisses EDMUND) Conceive, and fare thee well.
(to EDMUND) Then don’t come in with me. He’s a coward and can’t commit himself to doing anything risky. He chooses not to be insulted rather than challenge those who offend him. But what we talked about with longing on the way may soon come true. Edmund, go back to see my brother-in-law. Gather his soldiers and organize his troops. I plan to take charge of my household. From now on I will wear the pants, and my husband can play the housewife. We can trust Oswald to carry messages between us. If you act boldly, you will soon obey me as your true mistress. Take this as a token of my esteem. Don’t speak. Lean down. This kiss should encourage you. (she kisses EDMUND ) I hope you understand me. Goodbye, and good luck.