Why does Lear banish Cordelia?

Lear cannot distinguish between the false affection people show him because he’s powerful and the real affection Cordelia feels because she’s his daughter. Lear wants his daughters to publicly declare their love for him, and in exchange, he intends to give each daughter a share of his kingdom. He believes Cordelia loves him most, so he sets aside the largest third of his kingdom for her. However, the event does not go the way Lear planned. Cordelia does not make flattering speeches. Lear wants Cordelia to talk to him in the flattering way everyone else does, and when she refuses, he is angry. The extremity of his anger seems to surprise everyone, and his rage may be a sign that Lear is becoming senile or losing his mind.

Why does Edmund hate his family?

When we first meet him, Edmund stands by while Gloucester calls him a “whoreson,” and jokes about the fact that Edmund is his illegitimate son. In addition to knowing Gloucester has no respect for him, Edmund knows that his illegitimate status means he stands no chance of inheriting his father’s position. Edmund is obsessed with the stigma of being a “bastard.” He repeats words relating to bastardy over and over again: “Why brand they us / With base? With baseness, bastardy? Base, base?” (I.ii). Edmund believes that he is as good or better than his legitimate brother Edgar, and he sets out to prove his worth, even if doing so means destroying his family. His success in this project suggests that Edmund may be right to think he is smarter and more ambitious than Edgar. Edmund comes close to becoming king, while Edgar is reluctant to rule when he is offered the chance at the end of the play.

Who is "Poor Tom"?

When Edgar is forced to flee Gloucester’s house, he disguises himself as a mad beggar called “Poor Tom.” The character of “Poor Tom” may be more than just a disguise for Edgar. He really is homeless, and he doesn’t seem to have any plan to win his former status back. “Poor Tom” inspires genuine pity and disgust in the people he meets. Lear calls him a “poor, bare, forked animal” (III.iv.). Although Edgar eventually drops the disguise, he seems changed by the experience of playing “Poor Tom.” He behaves strangely for the rest of the play, working hard to trick Gloucester into believing he is committing suicide. Edgar never again returns to the sensible, happy young man he was before his banishment.

Why does Cornwall blind Gloucester?

By sending Lear to Cordelia, who is technically a foreign invader, Gloucester may have committed treason against Regan, Goneril, and their husbands. If Gloucester is guilty of treason, he must be punished. The legal situation is complicated, however, and Gloucester has not had a trial. Cornwall admits he does not have the right to punish Gloucester, but says he is angry, wants to punish Gloucester, and knows he has the power to get away with the act. The blinding of Gloucester is one of the most cruel and violent scenes Shakespeare ever wrote. The act emphasizes that the world of King Lear is a cruel and violent place, as well as an unjust one.

Who rules Britain at the end of the play?

At the end of the play, the audience is not clear on who will rule Britain. Lear has died and so have all his heirs. Albany is still the ruler of a portion of Britain, and he asks Edgar and Kent to help him rule. Kent refuses, and his response suggests that he is contemplating suicide: “I have a journey, sir, shortly to go” (V.iii.). Edgar doesn’t say whether he’ll rule or not, but his response is unenthusiastic: “The weight of this sad time we must obey” (V.iii.). Shakespeare’s audience would have recognized that the situation is very troubling. Britain might be on the brink of civil war or anarchy. The ending of King Lear suggests that when the social order breaks down, there is no guarantee that it will ever be repaired.

Why does King Lear divide his kingdom?

King Lear hopes to step down as king and retire, allowing for the next generation to take the helm (“shake all cares and business from our age / conferring them to younger strengths.”). However, he recognizes that he has three daughters. Both Regan and Goneril are married to Dukes, and two princes currently seek to marry Cordelia. He decides dividing the kingdom according to his wishes will help avoid his ambitious sons-in-law coming to blows. Thus, he sets his daughters’ love as the measure of who will get the most land. However, because he believes Cordelia loves him the most, he originally sets aside the largest portion of land for her.

What is Cordelia’s response to King Lear’s love test?

Cordelia is uncertain of how to express the sincere depth of her love in words, stating that her love is “more ponderous than [her] tongue.” Thus, Cordelia decides to keep silent instead of joining her sisters in empty flattery. When pressed, she finally explains that she loves Lear according to their bond as father and daughter, and that by not marrying she is able to love Lear completely, unlike her sisters who must give half their love to their husbands. Lear misinterprets Cordelia’s speech as to mean she loves him out of obligation, mistaking her sincerity and honesty for coldness. 

Why do Goneril and Regan betray King Lear?

Goneril and Regan betray King Lear out of greed and desire to hold on to power. After securing their pieces of the Kingdom, Goneril and Regan observe that Lear appears to be growing even more unreasonable as he ages, turning against Cordelia and Kent. They are concerned that while Lear’s temper has worked in their favor for the moment, he may change his mind. Therefore, they decide to join forces against their father and limit his powers even further. This scheme would secure their rule over the kingdom. 

Who is Caius?

Caius is Kent in disguise as a peasant. After Kent warns King Lear that he is foolish to banish Cordelia, Lear banishes Kent from the kingdom. However, Kent is deeply loyal to Lear and wishes to keep serving him. Disguised as Caius, Kent finds Lear and begs to be taken into his service. When Lear asks the disguised Kent who he is, Kent describes himself as “a very honest-hearted fellow” who will “deliver a plain message bluntly,” a rather accurate description of Kent’s personality. Thus, Caius is a disguise that Kent dons, as opposed to an alter-ego or character. 

How does Edmund trick Edgar?

Edmund tricks Edgar by telling him that their father, the duke of Gloucester, is upset with Edgar because someone has told Gloucester ruinous lies about him. He advises Edgar to carry a sword with him for protection just in case. Unbeknownst to Edgar, Edmund is the person who has lied to Gloucester. Edmund arranged for Gloucester to find a letter purporting to be from Edgar that describes a patricidal plot. This scheme sets up a scenario in which Edgar carrying around a sword implies murderous intent. 

Why does King Lear leave Goneril’s house?

Lear leaves Goneril’s because she refuses to house the entirety of the knights in his retainer. Frustrated by the unruliness of Lear’s retinue, Goneril orders Oswald to have her servants behave coldly to Lear’s knights in order to provoke them. Her hope is to use the inevitable fallout as leverage to force Lear to let go of some of his knights. Lear considers the request to reduce the number of his attendants insulting and disrespectful, and so he leaves for Regan’s estate. 

What does the Fool’s prophecy mean?

In the Fool’s confusing prophecy, he lists conditions that would bring ruin to Britain. The first four describe vices that already exist, such as dishonest priests. The last six describe a perfectly virtuous world that will never exist. Considering the first four conditions are already met, but the last six will never be, one possible reading is that chaos alone won’t ruin Britain. The Fool’s claim that Merlin will make this same prophecy in the future also suggests that even in the future there will still be a Britain where people, seeing chaos, will prophesy its doom. 

Why does King Lear change his mind about Cordelia?

Lear’s experience of complete abandonment forces him to reevaluate his treatment of Cordelia. At the beginning of the play, Lear values Goneril and Regan’s flattery, fooled by the appearance of loyalty instead of the true loyalty expressed by Cordelia and Kent. Once disenfranchised and trapped in the storm, Lear strips himself bare, as if casting off all superficial covering, facing the horrific power of nature, and the truth of his mortality. Facing such a humbling experience makes him regret failing to recognize Cordelia as his most loyal daughter. 

Why does the Fool disappear?

There are several possible reasons for the Fool’s disappearance after Act 3.6. When Lear emerges from the storm, he has taken on the Fool’s role, speaking wisdom in the guise of nonsense. Another possibility is that the Fool, who has protected Lear throughout his ordeal, is replaced by Cordelia. As a Fool is a figure that exists outside the social order, he makes an ideal protector for the disenfranchised Lear. Cordelia replacing him harkens a restoration of order. Other scholars believe the Fool disappears simply because in Jacobean productions the same actor often played both Cordelia and the Fool.

How do King Lear and his daughters die?

Like most of Shakespeare’s tragedies, King Lear comes to a bloody conclusion. Goneril poisons Regan to eliminate her rival for Edmund’s affection. She plans to support Edmund in killing Albany, her husband, and marry Edmund instead. However, Edgar warns Albany of Goneril’s betrayal. With Edmund defeated and her treachery revealed, Goneril commits suicide offstage, as a gentleman messenger informs us in Act 5.3. Unfortunately, before Edgar can intervene in Edmund’s plans, Edmund has ordered Cordelia’s death. Upon hearing the news, Lear dies of a broken heart.