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?
Duke of Burgundy — the dowerless suitor
This is most strange
There is nothing to differentiate France and Burgundy as suitors. Lear is equally friendly to both and it seems that he would be happy to have either one as his son-in-law. Each has argued his case for a substantial dowry and after lengthy negotiations mutually satisfactory agreements have finally been reached.
KING LEARWhen they enter the court to receive Lear's answer, Lear makes it abundantly clear that there is a difference between the two suitors, a gigantic difference! But why? Lear very pointedly and most strongly suggests to France that he not marry Cordelia and yet he unhesitatingly offers her to Burgundy. What could possibly be his reason for making such a clear distinction?
To KING OF FRANCELear obviously regards Burgundy as of a much lower status than France. Could it be that the Duke is not the ruler of Burgundy? Perhaps he is the son or brother of the King of Burgundy and under orders not to marry Cordelia unless Lear grants a substantial dowry. The Duke would not be so foolish as to have disclosed this restriction as it would have limited his negotiating position. Lear's refusal to grant a dowry puts an end to his quest.
And what would France be thinking at this time? He sees Lear's offer of a dowerless Cordelia get a blunt refusal from Burgundy. He is unlikely to be surprised by Burgundy's response. But could it be that France interprets this as merely a ploy to get rid of Burgundy as a suitor? If so, the implication is that Lear prefers him. He can, therefore, offer to marry Cordelia with the expectation that her dowry will be re-established when the two kings meet privately.
Peace be with Burgundy — a fanciful inventionSo little of the Duke is disclosed that we must not assume, as Cordelia does, that respects of fortune are his real love! A more romantic possibility might be that the Duke of Burgundy, during his amorous sojourn, has fallen in love with Cordelia! Burgundy would happily marry Cordelia without a dowry but is bound by the King of Burgundy's orders. Twice he desperately tries to persuade Lear to grant the dowry, as agreed, but Lear firmly refuses.
KING OF FRANCE
Sadly, the broken-hearted Burgundy tells Cordelia he cannot marry her.
Cordelia, unaware that Burgundy loves her, scathingly dismisses him.