Act I begins with two men, Kent and Gloucester, who are
talking about how King Lear is planning to divide his kingdom.
They also talk about Gloucester’s son, Edmund.
King Lear decides to divide his land and kingdom between his 3 daughters,
Cordelia, Regan and Goneril.
Goneril and Regan start telling their father about how much they love him
and completely over exaggerate.
Cordelia, his youngest daughter, cannot put her love into words which
disappoints and angers King Lear because he thought Cordelia loved him the
most. His anger causes him to
banish and disown her. Then Kent
ties to speak reason to King Lear.
Kent attempts to explain King Lear of the insane act and is banished in
return. The King of France marries
the banished Cordelia. Since
Cordelia is gone, Goneril and Regan plot to take away all of their father’s
power. Kent then disguises himself
and gains King Lear’s acceptance and serves him. At this time King Lear is staying with
Goneril, who does not want her father or his knights present in her palace. The King’s fool soon arrives and tries
to make him realize the great mistake he made in handing his power to Regan and
Goneril. When Goneril demands to
Lear must remove most of knights, Lear realizes she does not love him like she
said he did. Enraged at Goneril’s
betrayal he leaves to say with Regan.
Edmund, illegitimate son of Gloucester, goes further with his
ploy to destroy Edgar’s reputation.
Edmund feeds Edgar lies that Cornwall is angry with him and Gloucester
knows where he is hiding. Edmund
also advises Edgar to leave the house before anyone can see him.
When Gloucester walks in, Edmund pretends to fight off Edgar and his
brother flees. Edmund then lies to
everyone saying that Edgar was trying to kill their father so he would gain
their father’s throne. Kent, still
in disguise, gets into an altercation with Oswald, the chief servant of
Goneril’s palace. Since Kent
attacked Oswald, he was punished by Cornwall and put into stocks which are
similar to shackles. When by
himself he reads a letter from Cordelia in which she promises to help her
father. Edgar manages to escape
and disguises himself to look like a poor man who escaped from an insane asylum,
Tom O’Bedlam. On his way to
Gloucester’s castle, Lear witnesses Kent in stocks.
He is shocked and outraged at the fact his daughters would treat his
servant so harshly. He demands to
speak with Regan and Cornwall, but thet refuse and say they are feeling
ill. Finally, Regan comes out to
speak to her father. Lear then
asks her if he can stay with her because of Goneril’s betrayal and to Lear’s
shock Regan agrees. Regan will
only allow her father to stay if he reduced his one-hundred knights down to
twenty-five knights. Lear refused
and then Regan and Goneril then demanded that he rid his servants.
Completely shocked by his daughters’ betrayal, he decides he would rather
stay out in the storm than with people who do not truly love or respect
King Lear still remains in the dangerous storm with his
fool. Kent soon hears of Lear and
his whereabouts, and begins to desperately search for him.
At this point Lear is beginning to lose his sanity and become what we
call crazy. He keeps talking
about how cruel his daughters are.
Meanwhile, the fool is trying to convince Lear to agree to his daughters’
terms so they can have somewhere to stay.
Finally, Kent finds them and takes them into a little hut.
Gloucester feels pity for Lear because he is out in a storm, and simply
everything around him is crumbling. When Gloucester leaves to search for
Lear, Edmund now had the ultimate opportunity to deprive his father from all his
wealth and power. Edmund then
tells Cornwall that his dad is on his way to help Lear.
He also believed all was in his favor. Gloucester finds Lear and begs him to
return to the castle; Lear agrees with the condition of being allowed the
company of poor Tom (Edgar in disguise).
Meanwhile, Cornwall is extremely angered with Gloucester’s action and
demands he be found. Gloucester is
found and brutally punished, for Cornwall gouges out his eyes.
Gloucester yells for Edmund’s aid and Regan divulges the truth of the
situation to him. He realizes
Edgar was his truer son.
Gloucester is wandering out in the night as a blind man. Edgar, in his disguise, recognizes his
father and his wounds which left him blind. However, Edgar chooses not to reveal his
true identity to his father.
Albany then enters into Goneril’s castle and begins to criticize Goneril
concerning her actions toward father.
He was extremely angered by Regan and Goneril’s disrespectful action and
begins to insult them as well.
Albany also finds out about the gruesome act against Gloucester and is
completely horrified. He is also
shocked about Cornwall’s death, which was caused by a servant who disagreed with
Cornwall actions toward Gloucester.
This causes Albany to seek revenge on Edmund.
Cordelia, Queen of France, commands the French army who has landed on
British soldiers. She is also aware
of how her father has been treated and is genuinely sad for her father; however,
Lear refuses to see her because he disowned her foolishly.
While Lear is hiding Cordelia is leading her troops to find her and she
receives notice the British forces armies of Albany and Cornwall are preparing
for battle. Cordelia and her army
are prepared as well. Because Albany was hesitant to rally his forces, Goneril
took control of the troops and went into battle. Regan fears Edmund and Goneril are
expressing feelings for one another, so she tells Oswald she wants Edmund to
herself. It would be more
appropriate for Edmund to become involved with a widow rather than her married
sister. She sends Oswald with a
token for Edmund and a mission to annihilate Gloucester.
By: Saidee Espinoza
In the opening of act 5 scene 1, Regan starts everything with
asking Edmund if he was in love with Goneril and if he has slept with her. The
answer to both questions was no. After this, Goneril and Albany show up with
their armies and explain how they have come to understand that the French army
has been joined by Lear and many like him who are displeased with the present
rule of Britain. We see here that even though Albany grieves for Lear, he still
fights on the side of the wicked. Regan, Goneril, and Edmund leave together,
for the sisters are competing for his heart. Edgar, disguised, gives Albany the
letter from Oswald’s body, and within this letter, Goneril asks Edmund to kill
Albany. We now have a very complicated web of relationships and we learn Edmund
will make the decision of which sister to choose after the battle, and he will
show no mercy to Cordelia and Lear. We then go into battle, but we never have
any of the battle onstage, and we learn of Cordelia and Lear; they are trapped.
Gloucester also wants to be captured and killed, but Edgar convinces him that to
move and come with him.
We have Lear and Cordelia come into the scene and Edmund tells
the captain certain instructions of what to do with them, and we never really
clearly come to know what it was he wrote. Albany comes in with the sisters,
Edmund tells Albany he had sent Cordelia and Lear away because he did not want
the British army to show them sympathy or get any ideas. Regan then goes into
the stage of Edmund being her lover and future husband. Goneril interferes, and
Albany arrests him for treason. Edmund wants the accusations to be defended in
combat, so Albany calls for his champion, who happened to be Edgar in disguise.
As Regan was being carried out for being sick, Edgar beats Edmund but is stopped
because Albany says he must be alive for questioning. Goneril rushes off
because Albany beings the letter fourth. Edgar reveals his identity and explains
his whole story. The two sisters then die, Goneril committing suicide and Regan
being poisoned by Goneril. Kent comes in looking for Lear and Cordelia and
Edmund saying he wants to do good before he dies tells everyone he had planned
to kill them but he sends a messenger to stop everything.
Lear comes in with Cordelia’s body; the messenger has come too
late. Edmund then dies. Lear grieves his daughter’s death and just as soon as he
thinks he saw her breath, he dies. Funeral march plays and all titles are
restored and everyone exits.
By: Saleh Hassan