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 palaceIt 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!
The divisions within Britain before Lear makes changes