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?
Edmund — the astronomer
A sectary astronomical
EDGAR (asks Edmund)Although Edmund is only feigning an interest in the stars, in fact he is quite knowledgeable about astronomy as an earlier passage shows:
The most interesting thing here is Edmund's last sentence because it presents an opportunity to check him out as an astronomer. The dragon's tail obviously refers to the constellation of Draco (the dragon). Ursa Major (the big bear) and Draco are next to each other in the sky and both pass over Britain and thus passed over Edmund when he was both conceived and born. He is therefore quite accurate when he says he was born under Ursa Major. These days he would simply say his Zodiac sign is Leo the Lion.
But how does Edmund know which stars he was conceived under? He simply determines the constellation that was (and always is) overhead nine months before Ursa Major. He waits until Ursa Major is directly overhead. After a little mental calculation he works out that he need only wait six hours and then look overhead to see what constellation is there. He finds that it is Draco the dragon or more precisely, the dragon's tail. And so we discover that Edmund is a competent observational astronomer.