King Lear


Act 3

Act III, scene i

Outside on the heath, a wild storm blows. Kent is desperately looking for Lear. He encounters one of Lear’s knights (Gentleman, in the text) who tells him that Lear has wandered off with only the Fool for company. Kent informs the knight that trouble is brewing between Albany and Cornwall and that the French are planning an invasion to help Lear. He sends the knight to Dover, an English town near the border of France, to deliver news of Lear’s situation to the French. He gives the knight a ring for Cordelia so that she will know who sent him. Kent then goes in search of Lear.

Summary: Act III, scene ii

Lear wanders aimlessly out on the heath, raging at the storm and cursing his daughters. His increasing madness is clear from the way his thoughts jump around. The Fool tries to convince Lear to go back to his daughters for shelter, but to no avail. Kent at last finds the king and persuades him to take shelter, with the Fool, in a hovel he has found. Kent tells the king that he intends to go back to Gloucester’s house and plead for shelter there. As he leads Lear to the hovel, the Fool remains on stage and delivers a mysterious prophecy.

Summary: Act III, scene iii

Gloucester confides to Edmund that Regan and Cornwall have commandeered his castle and forbidden him to offer any assistance to Lear. Gloucester is deeply troubled and concerned for the king. He tells Edmund that he intends to disobey Cornwall’s orders and go looking for Lear out on the heath. He also confides that there is a letter in his room reporting the impending French invasion, and asks Edmund to keep Cornwall distracted so that he will not notice Gloucester’s absence. Gloucester fears that he will be punished as a traitor if he is discovered helping Lear, but is resolved to do it anyway. After Gloucester’s exit, Edmund plans to immediately report to Cornwall, thus ensuring his own rise to power at the expense of his father’s fall.


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Essays About King Lear