Lear's dilemma - future of Britain & Cordelia
Tripartition of Britain - Lear's grand plan
Kent & Gloster - Lear's attitude to Cornwall
Act 1 Scene 1 - Enter KING LEAR
The flattery game - Goneril & Regan
Sharing the kingdom - a third more opulent
Lear and flattery - did he love it or hate it?
Duke of Burgundy - the dowerless suitor
King of France - in choler parted
Edmund - sectary astronomical
Duke of Albany - worthy prince
Queen Goneril - King Lear's successor?
Oswald - this detested groom
Goneril - under the influence
Regan - is she worse than Goneril?
Goneril/Edmund/Regan - unequilateral triangle
Division 'twixt Albany and Cornwall - rumour
Lear's sanity - recovery
The final tableau - Lear endures his going hence
The last word - Albany or Edgar?
Act 1 Scene 1 — Enter KING LEAR
It is Lear's birthday but he gives the presents
Sennet. Enter KING LEAR, CORNWALL, ALBANY, GONERIL, REGAN, CORDELIA, and Attendants
Cordelia's marriage is the 'lighter' purpose.
Give me the map there. Know that we have divided
Lear gives his main reason for division of the kingdom
We have this hour a constant will to publish
and here is the event which makes the division appropriate now
The princes, France and Burgundy,
Background to Lear's plans: He loves his daughters and he now likes both of his sons-in-law equally. He has already worked out exactly what each one is going to get. He plans to extend the dukedoms of Albany and Cornwall but leave their present palaces as headquarters. Lear's own palace, the most opulent, will be given Cordelia as her dowry. Lear will continue to live in it with Cordelia caring for him as he declines with age. Lear has been running the country, with the assistance of his 100 knights. These knights will form the nucleus of Cordelia's administration and give her a power base and the loyalty they have given Lear. When Cordelia is in France on her royal duties as Queen of France, Lear will run her duchy. That he should 'still retain the name, and all the additions to a king' for these duties is quite sensible.
Lear's birthday starts out as the happiest day of his life but what is so special about this particular day?
Despite all of these things going for him, he is supposed on this day, for the only time in his eighty years, to be wanting to be flattered! Are we to believe this? And why to be flattered? Is it to help him make his final decisions about splitting up Britain? Are we to suppose that Lear has left the actual details and final decisions to do with the subdivision of the kingdom to some arbitrary, impromptu, last minute comments of his daughters?
Marriages were the way alliances were sealed. Negotiating the terms of an alliance was the real reason France and Burgundy were 'Long in our court.' The marriage was something of an automatic spin-off. Are we seriously to believe that the arrangements Lear has been negotiating with the King of France and the Duke of Burgundy for so long could be brushed aside on a casual remark by one of his daughters?