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.

The princes, France and Burgundy,
Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
And here are to be answer'd.
When 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?
My lord of Burgundy.
We first address towards you, who with this king
Hath rivall'd for our daughter:
For you, great king,
I would not from your love make such a stray,
To match you where I hate;
Lear 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 invention

So 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.
Most royal majesty,
I crave no more than what your highness offer'd,
Nor will you tender less.
Right noble Burgundy,
When she was dear to us, we did hold her so;
But now her price is fall'n. Sir, there she stands:
If aught within that little seeming substance,
Or all of it, with our displeasure pieced,
And nothing more, may fitly like your grace,
She's there, and she is yours.
I know no answer.
........ Take her, or leave her?
Pardon me, royal sir;
Election makes not up on such conditions.
Then leave her, sir; for, by the power that made me,
I tell you all her wealth.
........ My lord of Burgundy,
What say you to the lady?
........ Will you have her?
Royal Lear,
Give but that portion which yourself proposed,
And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
Duchess of Burgundy.
Nothing: I have sworn; I am firm.
Sadly, the broken-hearted Burgundy tells Cordelia he cannot marry her.
I am sorry, then, you have so lost a father
That you must lose a husband.
Cordelia, unaware that Burgundy loves her, scathingly dismisses him.
Peace be with Burgundy!
Since that respects of fortune are his love,
I shall not be his wife.