King Lear


Act 4

Act IV, scene i

Out on the countryside, Gloucester is led to Poor Tom by a kind old man. Gloucester wants to send the old man away so that he will not be punished for helping him. Full of grief and regret, Gloucester laments his treatment of Edgar and hopes that he will find him once again. Hearing Edgar’s voice, he only recognizes it as the voice of Poor Tom, and sends the old man to get clothes for Tom. He then asks Edgar to lead him to Dover, where he wants to find a high cliff, implying that he plans to commit suicide by jumping. Edgar agrees to be his guide.

Summary: Act IV, scene ii

Goneril and Edmund arrive at Albany’s palace. Oswald informs them that Albany is no longer on their side; rather, Albany is happy about the French invasion in support of Lear and is not pleased that Edmund has replaced his father as Earl of Gloucester. Goneril sends Edmund back to Cornwall to avoid an encounter. She kisses him before he leaves, and their romantic involvement is clear. After Edward leaves, Goneril reflects that Edmund is more worthy of her affection that her husband Albany, whom she considers weak.

When Albany arrives, he addresses Goneril angrily and suggests that she has behaved like a monster. He compares Goneril and her sister Regan to tigers, rather than true daughters, for how they have treated their father. Goneril responds by calling Albany weak and unmanly, and Albany calls her a devil in the disguise of a woman. A messenger brings news of Cornwall’s death and tells Albany the story of Gloucester’s torture and blinding. Albany is horrified and saddened at this treatment of Gloucester, and wants to know whether Edmund did anything to defend his father. The messenger explains that Edmund himself betrayed Gloucester. Albany vows to avenge Gloucester for what has been done to him, and expresses his gratitude for Gloucester’s support of Lear.

Summary: Act IV, scene iii

Kent has arrived in Dover. There, he talks to a Gentleman who tells...

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Essays About King Lear