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?

Kent & Gloster

Lear's attitude to Cornwall - has it changed?

King Lear's palace

I thought the king had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall.
It did always seem so to us: but now, in the division of the kingdom, it appears not which of the dukes he values most; for equalities are so weighed, that curiosity in neither can make choice of either's moiety.
It has been suggested that this shows it was common knowledge in court that Lear planned to divide the kingdom. The argument for this point of view is dependent on a narrow interpretation of the word 'division'. In the present case, however, division means the separation of estates, dukedoms, earldoms, crown lands that already exist under the aegis of the king. The king is about to promulgate a different type of division. The opening remarks of Kent and Gloster show that they know nothing of this division.

The decision to divide the kingdom is Lear's and Lear's alone. Kent is not an adviser, nor are there any. What could advisers say to influence Lear's decision? Lear would first need to explain to them every detail of his moods, feelings, desires and motivations and because Cordelia's future is involved, his very personal interest in her welfare. What is the point of advisers? He is the only one who knows what he wants.

So why does the Kent/Gloster discussion taken place at all? The subject matter of their discussion is not the division of the kingdom but an apparent change they think they have noticed in Lear's attitude toward his son-in-law Cornwall. Kent and Gloster both feel that Lear's preference for Albany over Cornwall has changed. Neither is absolutely sure, nor offers a reason why Lear's attitude might have changed. Gloster admits he cannot now tell which of the dukes Lear seems to like the most. If they had already known that Lear intends a division of the kingdom they would not talk this way. They would not only know that Lear's attitude has changed but would also understand why it has changed and not be vague. Has Lear, in fact, grown to like Cornwall? Until recently it seems that Lear did not like him or perhaps he did not really know him. If so, what might have motivated Lear to bother to get to know him? When Lear decided to share out his kingdom is it likely he would give Cornwall a share if he did not like him or did not really know him? Would not Lear want to know Cornwall better to see if he could be trusted to rule a large part of Britain? Events will reveal all!

divisions of the kingdom

The divisions within Britain before Lear makes changes