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?
Lear's recovery from madness
Doubt not of his temperanceConsider the time interval from when Lear awakens in Cordelia's presence until the Doctor tells Cordelia he has regained his sanity. If the passage is read aloud, with full regard to the trauma of Lear's waking moments, it only takes a few minutes. The rapidity with which Lear evinces his recovery is quite amazing and yet it passes through four distinguishable stages:
(1) Lear thinks he is dead
He regains consciousness in strange surroundings with music playing quite loudly. He is completely disoriented and thinks he is in some after-life. He does not recognise Cordelia.
(2) Lear begins to realise he is alive
He asks questions, but seemingly to question himself rather than others. Note that 'Fair daylight?' is not a comment but a question, but a strange one, as Lear struggles to get his bearings. Until Cordelia asks him to do so, he has barely looked her way! And let us not forget that his eyes are not o' the best! He does not know who Cordelia is and tries to kneel before her. He has called her a spirit and probably thinks she is an angel to be knelt before.
(3) Although Lear is still getting focused what he says proves he is sane
Now he tells Cordelia that he is about to say something that might sound so foolish, so ridiculous, that she might mock him. And what is this thing he is not sure about? He thinks 'this lady to be my child Cordelia.' And though he says 'I fear I am not in my perfect mind.' what he says is absolutely correct and shows he is in his perfect mind. He has recognised Cordelia and he has recognised Caius (the still-disguised Kent). In fact, the reason Lear says 'Pray do not mock me.' can only be because he has actually recognised Cordelia before uttering those words else why would he say them? Despite this recognition, he is thrown into doubt because, simultaneously, he sees other things in his new surroundings of which he cannot possibly know anything.
(4) Lear knows for sure that he is sane
Once Cordelia confirms that Lear's thoughts are accurate his speech loses all elements of doubt and hesitancy and he speaks spontaneously and with confidence. When told he is not in France but in his own kingdom, his 'Do not abuse me.' has an ironic touch of a sound mind. On hearing this, the Doctor immediately realises Lear has recovered his sanity.