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?

The Duke of Albany — worthy prince

Our no less loving son

Albany is a noble prince of great character. However, his true worth as a human being is not immediately apparent and this has frequently given him an image of being weak and indecisive. This seems to have arisen from a perception that he fails to react to people and events. When things are examined, though, his responses are normal and, in fact, he sometimes responds very quickly indeed.

Albany loves Goneril and before Edmund's arrival on the scene there is nothing to suggest this was not returned. Albany is often absent from court and not aware that Goneril has changed since her ascendancy to power. He knows not why Goneril is angry with Lear nor will she tell him.

My lord, I am guiltless, as I am ignorant
Of what hath moved you.
It may be so, my lord.

Exeunt KING LEAR, KENT, and Attendants
Do you mark that, my lord?
I cannot be so partial, Goneril,
To the great love I bear you,—
Pray you, content.

He gives wise counsel to her overblown fears but she immediately accuses him of lack of wisdom but considering that only some of Lear's entourage are soldiers he is probably right. Goneril admits to baseless fears. When Goneril visits Regan she does so without Albany.
............... a hundred knights!
'Tis politic and safe to let him keep
At point a hundred knights: yes, that, on every dream,
Each buzz, each fancy, each complaint, dislike,
He may enguard his dotage with their powers,
And hold our lives in mercy.
Well, you may fear too far.
Safer than trust too far:
Let me still take away the harms I fear,
Not fear still to be taken: I know his heart.

No, no, my lord,
This milky gentleness and course of yours
Though I condemn not, yet, under pardon,
You are much more attask'd for want of wisdom
Than praised for harmful mildness.
How far your eyes may pierce I can not tell:
Striving to better, oft we mar what's well.
Nay, then—
Well, well; the event.

Albany learns the truth about Goneril

Albany may have been ignorant as to what has been happening during his absence but suddenly he is no longer ignorant. He must have made enquiries and assessed the situation and determined that the villain is Goneril supported by Oswald. When Goneril returns to the palace Oswald tells her that Albany has changed.
Before ALBANY's palace.
Welcome, my lord: I marvel our mild husband
Not met us on the way.
Now, where's your master'?
Madam, within; but never man so changed.
I told him of the army that was landed;
He smiled at it: I told him you were coming:
His answer was 'The worse:' of Gloster's treachery,
And of the loyal service of his son,
When I inform'd him, then he call'd me sot,
And told me I had turn'd the wrong side out:
What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him;
What like, offensive.
Goneril accuses Albany of cowardice but she doesn't know his true qualities. She is unaware of the effect his new-found knowledge of events has brought about to change his attitude. Goneril speaks in her domineering manner but she is instantly rebuffed by Albany. From this time onward Albany effectively replaces Goneril as the ruler of her realm.
[To EDMUND] Then shall you go no further.
It is the cowish terror of his spirit,
That dares not undertake:..... Back, Edmund, to my brother;
Hasten his musters and conduct his powers:
I must change arms at home, and give the distaff
Into my husband's hands.
I have been worth the whistle.
O Goneril!
You are not worth the dust which the rude wind
Blows in your face. I fear your disposition:
........ Thou changed and self-cover'd thing
With the death of Cornwall, Albany becomes the dominant force in Britain and his new status places him at the head of Britain's military forces. Albany is sympathetic to Lear and Cordelia and sees them as wronged, but he is also aware that France has an army at Dover. Are the French there merely to protect Cordelia while she searches for Lear? Will the French leave once Lear is brought to safety? He has suspicions that the French are not in Britain to redress Cordelia's situation but to effect a conquest. He, therefore, intends to oppose them.

Albany proves to be brave, honest and circumspect.

Our very loving sister, well be-met.
Sir, this I hear; the king is come to his daughter,
With others whom the rigor of our state
Forced to cry out. Where I could not be honest,
I never yet was valiant: for this business,
It toucheth us, as France invades our land,
Not bolds the king, with others, whom, I fear,
Most just and heavy causes make oppose.
Flourish. Enter ALBANY, GONERIL, REGAN, another Captain, and Soldiers
Sir, you have shown to-day your valiant strain,
And fortune led you well: you have the captives
That were the opposites of this day's strife:
We do require them of you, .................
As we shall find their merits and our safety.
Sir, I thought it fit
To send the old and miserable king
To some retention and appointed guard;
A note is required here about Albany's timing in trapping Edmund and dismissing his soldiers.
A note is required here referring to Albany's bravery in challenging Edmund.
Sir, by your patience,
I hold you but a subject of this war,
Not as a brother. ........
Thou art arm'd, Gloster: let the trumpet sound:
If none appear to prove upon thy head
Thy heinous, manifest, and many treasons,
There is my pledge;
Throwing down a glove
I'll prove it on thy heart,
Ere I taste bread, thou art in nothing less
Than I have here proclaim'd thee.
Trust to thy single virtue; for thy soldiers,
All levied in my name, have in my name
Took their discharge.