King Lear minimized

King Lear has decided to divide his kingdom of Britain into three parts, one part for each of his three daughters.  The year is 845 B.C.  Dividing his kingdom among his daughters turns out to be a terrible mistake, leaving him powerless and homeless. 

1.  King Lear’s youngest daughter, Cordelia, terribly disappoints her father when she responds to his question “which of you shall we say doth love us most.” He cuts her out of his kingdom, dividing it into two parts, one each for Goneril and Regan, his two older daughters. He banishes his aide, Kent, for questioning him. Cordelia marries the French king. Gloucester has two sons, Edgar and Edmund.  Gloucester is an old  friend of the king’s. Edmund turns his father against his brother Edgar. Lear leaves to live with Goneril.  It doesn’t work out.  Kent doesn’t leave the country; rather disguises himself and is hired by Lear as a servant.

2. Naïve Edgar runs off when deceitful Edmund tells him their father is angry with him and is approaching. His father tells Edmund that “whoever brings the murderous coward (Edgar) to the stake will be thanked.” Edgar disguises himself as a madman-beggar. Having failed to be welcome by Goneril, King Lear turns to his second daughter Regan, who also turns him away.  He leaves Regan’s estate “in high rage” just as a terrible storm is brewing.

3. Noting Lear’s terrible deterioration, disguised Kent sends a man with a message for Cordelia. Disguised Kent leads Lear to a hovel, needing protection as they do from the storm.  The hovel is occupied by disguised Edgar. Edmund tells Regan’s husband that his father (Gloucester) is a traitor, the French having landed in Britain. Lear’s two older daughters along with Regan’s husband force out Gloucester’s eyes.  Gloucester learns that his son Edmund is the one who had accused him of being a traitor.

4. Edgar finds the blind Gloucester, his father, and leads him to the Cliffs of Dover.  The married Goneril flirts with Edmund. Goneril and her husband have a name-calling argument. We learn Regan’s husband has died. Cordelia is in Britain and is frantically searching for her father. Regan openly courts Edmund.

5. By now Regan is upset with her sister as well as with Edmund, Edmund two-timing the sisters. Cordelia and Lear find each other and through instructions from Edmund are captured.  Edmund instructs his captain to “take them away to prison,” and to see that they don’t exit alive. When Gloucester is asked to move, he responds “no further.” He soon dies. Feeling ill, Regan exits. Disguised Edgar and Edmund duel, Edmund falling, seriously injured. Goneril exits. We learn Goneril had fatally poisoned Regan and has now killed herself.  Edgar discards his disguise. Edmund dies. A terribly confused Lear enters, carrying Cordelia in his arms, she having been hanged in jail. Lear soon dies. Goneril’s good-guy husband tells all that Kent and Edgar must be successor rulers and “sustain the state.” 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2010 Minimized Shakespeare

Home