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A Brief Summary of King Lear - I, II, III, IV

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A Brief Summary of King Lear - I, II, III, IV The play opens with King Lear deciding how to retire his throne. He decides to divide his land up among his three daughters. Whichever daughter can lavish him with the most praise and prove they love him most, will get the best land. Regan and Goneril are the first to profess their love to their father. Lear is gratified and grants each a healthy portion of land. He saves the last, but best portion of land for his youngest and favorite daughter, Cordelia. Cordelia, unfortunately, is unwilling to lie to her father. She will not allow herself to behave in the way her sisters did. She simply states that she loves Lear as much as any daughter should, no more, no less. The furious Lear attempts to persuade Cordelia to reconsider her answer, but after unsuccessfully doing so, rashly decides to bestow no land on her and essentially banishes her from his site. One of Cordelia's suitors, The Duke of Burgundy, loses all interest in the powerless daughter. The King of France recognizes Cordelia's virtues and takes her even without any land. The loyal Kent attempts to change Lear's mind with blunt honesty, but is banished for contradicting Lear's proclamation. Lear is going to live with his eldest daughters, yet still keep the title "King." ...read more.


Elsewhere, The Duke of Cornwall and Regan arrive at Gloucester's castle. They praise Edmund for helping his father and identifying Edgar as a villain. Cornwall gives Edmund a noble position under him for his deeds. Kent arrives, harshly criticizes Oswald, and tries to kill him. Cornwall and Regan place Kent in the stocks for accusing Oswald of evil deeds. When Lear finally arrives he is incredulous to find that his man has been placed in the stocks. Lear learns who put Kent there and boldly demands Gloucester to fetch Regan so that he may have a word with her. Regan purposefully denies Lear an audience and after a great delay she arrives. The two get into an argument during which Regan lets Lear know she will not take him in unless he reduce the quantity of his knights. She also demands that he apologize to Goneril for disrespecting her. In a cruel turn of events, Goneril shows up and embraces her sister. The two have made it known that Lear will have no authority for the duration of his life. Lear angrily sets off into a brewing storm, followed loyally by Kent and The Fool. Part III Lear makes a vivid speech about his current situation and begins to show signs of losing his sanity. ...read more.


Cordelia, who is apparently in town via her husband's invasion of England, discovers Lear. She takes him into her care, and when Lear awakes, he believes he has benefited from a miracle. This is a touching scene where Lear attempts to regain his sanity. The Duke of Albany, being a good man, learns of what has happened and vehemently condemns Goneril. This leaves Goneril free to lust after her new love, Edmund. With Cornwall's death, Edmund is appointed to the head of British forces. Of course, since her husband has died, Regan competes with her sister for Edmund's love. Due to his honor and loyalty to Britain, Albany helps Edmund in the fight against France. When France loses, Cordelia and Lear are taken prisoner by Edmund. They are secretly sentenced to death. The two sisters continue their betrayal and turn on each other. Regan is poisoned by Goneril. When her disgusting intentions are made known, Goneril commits suicide. Edgar allows Gloucester to know his true identity and his father dies of a broken heart. Edgar then informs The Duke of Albany of Edmund's grievous acts and he is arrested for his crimes. Next, Edgar formally challenges Edmund to a duel. Edmund loses and is mortally wounded. At this point, Edmund undergoes a transition and become remorseful before his death. He tells of his order to execute Lear and Cordelia. He is too late. Cordelia is executed and Lear dies trying to revive her. ...read more.

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