CliffsNotes King Lear

CliffsNotes King Lear

CliffsNotes King Lear

CliffsNotes King Lear

Synopsis

The original CliffsNotes study guides offer expert commentary on major themes, plots, characters, literary devices, and historical background. The latest generation of titles in this series also feature glossaries and visual elements that complement the classic, familiar format.

In CliffsNotes on Shakespeare's King Lear, you explore one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies - the gripping story of greed, treachery, and murder among sisters; and the foolhardiness and revelation of a father.

This study guide carefully walks you through every twist and turn of Shakespeare's classic by providing summaries and critical analyses of each act and scene of the play. You'll also explore the life and background of the "Bard" himself -- William Shakespeare. Other features that help you study includeCharacter analyses of major playersA character map that graphically illustrates the relationships among the charactersCritical essaysA review section that tests your knowledgeGlossaries of difficult words and phrases

Classic literature or modern modern-day treasure - you'll understand it all with expert information and insight from CliffsNotes study guides.

Excerpt

The scene opens in King Lear’s palace. A conversation between Kent, Gloucester, and Gloucester’s son Edmund introduces the play’s primary plot: The king is planning to divide his kingdom among his three daughters. The audience also learns that Gloucester has two sons. The older, Edgar, is his legitimate heir, and the younger, Edmund, is illegitimate; however, Gloucester loves both sons equally. This information provides the subplot.

King Lear enters to a fanfare of trumpets, followed by his two sonsin-law—Albany and Cornwall—and his three daughters—Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia. Lear announces that he has divided his kingdom into three shares to be given to his daughters as determined by their declarations of love for him. Goneril, as the eldest, speaks first. She tells her father that her love for him is boundless. Regan, as the middle child, speaks next. Her love, she says, is even greater than Goneril’s.

Finally, it is Cordelia’s turn to express the depth of her love for her royal father. But when queried by Lear, Cordelia replies that she loves him as a daughter should love a father, no more and no less. She reminds her father that she also will owe devotion to a husband when she marries, and therefore cannot honestly tender all her love toward her father. Lear sees Cordelia’s reply as rejection; in turn, he disowns Cordelia, saying that she will now be “a stranger to my heart and me” (I.1.114). King Lear then divides his kingdom between Goneril and Regan, giving each an equal share.

Kent interferes by asking Lear to reconsider his rash action. Lear is not swayed, and in anger, he banishes Kent for defending Cordelia and for confronting the king.

At Kent’s departure, the King of France and Duke of Burgundy enter, both of whom are suitors for Cordelia’s hand in marriage. They are told that Cordelia will not receive a dowry or inheritance from her father. The Duke withdraws his suit, because a wife without a dowry is . . .

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