Oswald's plan to get rid of Lear's and his 100 knights
Oswald is Goneril's steward and runs her household and is in charge of the servants. He doesn't want Lear and his 100 knights
coming back every second month and giving him heaps of work. He wants to get rid of them permanently. What can he do to solve
Oswald is disparaged by everyone who writes about him. I think that is a mistake. He works for Goneril, but that's all it is,
just a job. He is a steward, nothing more. He is presented as not being a likeable person, but we know nothing about him.
He is insulting to Lear and that makes him seem bad, but he was ordered by Goneril to deliberately be unpleasant, so it is
unfair to cast aspersions on him. Kent's attack and abuse of him is, therefore, unfair.
Oswald had a fairly easy job, but once Lear and his 100 knights turned up this changed. Suddenly he had loads of work, and had
to provide an extra 300+ meals a day. That's nearly 10,000 extra meals for the month, to say nothing of all the dozens of other
jobs he had to arrange. It wouldn't matter who had the responsibility of looking after the knights be it you or me, or anyone,
Oswald included, we would all wish them to go. That is all that Oswald wanted - to get rid of them.
Probably he has nothing against Lear, and might even have loved him as his king, and he may have had friends amongst the
knights. But put yourself in his place. Consider how you would feel if a lot of your favourite relatives turned up at your
place intent on staying for a month. It wouldn't be long before you would be wanting them to go. So, can you blame Oswald
for wanting the knights to go. But the only way they will go is if Lear goes, so he has to think up a way to get Lear go.
He is not there to help Goneril or anyone only himself. He is an opportunist.
There are is not a shred of evidence that Lear and his knights have caused any harm whatsoever or are other than perfect
gentlemen. They were Lear's top aides and had brought Britain to be the leading power of the region and would have been the
administrators of Cordelia's duchy if it come into being. Likely, Goneril already knows some of them and knows their good
qualities. If they stay in her duchy every second month and get to know the place they might offer advice that she and
Albany would find beneficial, possibly resulting in Oswald being displaced as Goneril's right-hand man. So, what can he
do about it? He needs to come up with a plan that will cause Goneril to get rid of them once and for all.
Goneril trusts him to the last degree, so whatever he says she will believe. He thinks up a plan to take advantage of her
trust. He invents lies by accusing Lear and his knights of riotous behaviour, drunkenness, complaining about the food,
excessive demands and indecent remarks to the women and that they are abusive, foul-mouthed and, as some of them wear
swords, his staff are fearful for their lives. A gentleman of his staff who chided the Fool for making a sarcastic remark,
was struck by the king.
But who can he get to tell Goneril these lies? He need only tell his staff of the extra work-load now demanded of them and
that it will continue, month after month, into the distant future for some of them to also want to be rid of the knights.
He would have no trouble finding some of his staff willing to go to Goneril and pass on his lies.
Oswald plans to use them as a deputation to Goneril to plead their case. He has a pretty good idea of how she will respond,
but needs to be careful how it is put to her. She will be shocked, and immediately wish to confirm the matter with him. She may
wish to go to her servants, sympathise with them and ask questions. Oswald foresees the possibility that honest members of
his staff might tell her the truth – that nothing has happened. Oswald needs to forestall Goneril speaking to them, but
how? He can do it by timing – by carefully choosing the exact moment the deputation go in to see her.
He knows that Lear and his knights return from hunting late in the day. Their return provides the precise moment to confront
Goneril. A lookout on the battlement is to watch for Lear's approach and when Lear is seen he is to signal Oswald, who will be
waiting for this very moment to send his deputation in to speak to Goneril. They will tell their tale and Goneril will instantly
seek Oswald, who will be ready waiting just outside her door. He will confirm what she has been told. At that very moment, Lear
will arrive and there will be no time for Goneril to speak to the rest of her servants.
Oswald puts his plan into action
Put the Act 1 scene 3 text in here
If Goneril had had time to think about it, she might have asked some tricky questions:
If Goneril wereto pins him down in this fashion, he would need to have excuses to cover himself. For example, he could say he didn't actually
witness the striking event but took it on board, checked it out, and then thought it best to let the victims tell her their story.
- When did the striking occur?
- Did Oswald see it happen?
- Why has she heard about it from a third party and not from him?
- He has spoken to her several times over the last few days, so why didn't he mention the striking event and all the other misdemeanors?
- Why didn't he tell her of her father's bad behaviour when he knows how concerned she is about him, and needs to know?
Oswald uses timing to trick Goneril - but by checking the timing of the various events will prove that Oswald is a liar and Lear and
his knights innocent!
Although we are never told what Oswald said to Goneril it is in fact disclosed when he talks to Regan.
Oswald had no idea that Goneril would suddenly ask him to write a letter to Regan to tell her what happened nor that he
would have to deliver the letter and add further details. What can Oswald tell Regan? He can only repeat what he has said to Goneril.
And what does he tell Regan? He tells her outright lies, which means of course that he must have lied to Goneril. We can see from this, that Oswald
is not a true and faithful loyal servant to Goneril who does things in her best interest. His interest, first and foremost, is himself.
It is a gross mistake that the people who write their articles about Oswald, and see him as a rogue, nevertheless, assume he told Goneril
the truth about Lear. But why? He is an out an out liar!
Later, Albany abuses Oswald and tells him what he thinks of him. He would realise Albany had come to power and Goneril had lost her power.
Albany's attack and Goneril's might set him thinking. He would note that Regan and Edmund would likely marry and that it would be
advantageous to get on their side and to hell with Goneril, although at the present time to be the willing messanger and servant to both parties.