King Lear Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

King Lear book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Have More Than You Show

What is the significance of the quote, "Have more than thou showest, speak less than thou knowest, lend less than thou owest"?

Expert Answers info

Michael Ugulini eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2012

write607 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Business, and History

The quote "Have more than thou showest, speak less than thou knowest, lend less than thou owest" suggests that it is best to be judicious or sensible when it comes to dealing with others in life relationships. We will look at the three parts of this quote individually as relates to life in general, which is what King Lear is, an examination of a man’s life:

1. Have more than thou showest,

Sometimes it is wise not to reveal to others all that you have. You have to know who you are dealing with and what their motives are. In essence, you are protecting yourself and your family when you think this way. Everyone does not have to know all of your business and what you own.

Also, when we show all that we have, it is sometimes looked upon as being “showy” or flaunting our good fortune and abundant assets. This can invite the jealousy of others.

2. speak less than thou knowest,

It doesn’t have to be physical things either, as mentioned above. In speech, we can flaunt our great knowledge of and expertise in a subject. Sometimes it is better to withhold a bit of what we know so others are not intimidated by this. If they seek to draw more information out of us on a subject because of personal interest, that is fine. It’s just that sometimes it’s better to let them make the first move in this so we don’t appear to be exalting the self.

In addition, when we speak loosely, revealing all, we may lose an advantage that we may have in a touchy situation, or a business situation. This is...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 551 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now



check Approved by eNotes Editorial

litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write15,968 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial