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"Have more than thou showest,speak less than thou knowest,lend less than thou owest."...

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milindbhardwa... | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted June 26, 2011 at 11:57 PM via web

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"Have more than thou showest,speak less than thou knowest,lend less than thou owest." What does this line from King Lear mean?

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shaketeach | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted June 27, 2011 at 3:02 AM (Answer #1)

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This is much like the advice that Polonius gives to his son in Hamlet.

"Have more than thou showest" quite simply means don't go throwing your money around and letting everybody know how much money you have.  In other words be moderate in how you present yourself to the world.

"Speak less than thou knowest" in other words, listen, don't talk.  If you talk to much you might let slip something you don't want people to know or you could "stick your foot in your mouth" so it is better to listen to others and speak only when you have something relavent to say.

"Lend less than thou owest" is almost like "neither a borrower nor a lender be" in the advice.  To lend out money, especially to a friend, is really tricky, particularly in trying to get get your money back sometimes so it is better not to lend your money out.

In all the advice is to keep a low profile and not call attention to yourself through your actions or speech.  Live in moderation.

 

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