1 Lear returns from hunting to find Caius (Kent in
disguise) who is a serving man, seeking employment and
agrees to take him on if he liked him 'no worse after
dinner' (line 41)
1.1 Kent lives to take care of Lear, and
is determined to do it even if he
treated him badly
1.2 Dramatic Irony because Lear does
not recognise Kent
2 Oswald follows Goneril's instructions with admirable
precision. Lear sends Oswald to go go find his daughter,
but he ignores him.
3 Lear abruptly calls Oswald back, but Oswald still ignores
him. Lear sends one of his knights to bring him back.
4 A knight then enters and reports that Goneril says she
5 Lear is miffed that Goneril and Oswald have blown him
off and there is a discussion about the 'great abatement
of kindness' (line 59) shown to the king. Both Lear and
his followers have noticed that Goneril's servants have
started to treat them unkindly
6 The knight believes Lear isn't being given his due as the
king, not by any of the castle servants, and definitely not
by Goneril or her husband, the Duke of Albany. Lear
reveals he was thinking along these lines already, but
had dismissed it as his own imaginings
6.1 The knight is more alert than the
King = tables have turned
7 Lear calls for his Fool again. We learn that the Fool has
been pining away since Cordelia went to France. Lear
snaps, 'No more of that' (line 74) because he cannot bear
to hear his youngest daughter's name mentioned.
8 When Oswald returns (of his own accord) Lear rages at
him, 'Who am I, sir?' Oswald replies insolently (rude,
disrespectful), 'My lady's father' (lines 77-78)
8.1 Lear shouldn't need to ask, everyone
should already know and could reflect
his maddness because he no longer
knows who he is
9 The king curses and strikes him and Kent trips the
'clotpoll' (line 46) up, earning the king's praise.
10 The Fool makes his first appearance. He offers Kent his
coxcomb 'for taking one's part that's out of favour' (line
10.1 The Fool is not the foolish one
11 The Fool talks persistently and tediously about Lear's
foolishness in riddles and songs and Lear threatens to
have him whipped
11.1 A lot of his lines refer directly to
poverty, the implication being that
without his poverty Lear is helpless.
11.2 The Fool also suggests that Lear has
reversed the natural order.
12 Goneril comes in frowning and accuses Lear of
encouraging quarrelsome behaviour in his knights
because it is getting out of control and suggests a remedy
must be sought. She claims his 100 knights are always
loud and riotous and that with the way he's been
behaving lately, she worries he's actually encouraging
this bad behaviour.
13 He becomes annoyed at her outburst. He tries to dismiss
these insults but she remains firm; if Lear does not cut
down his train (knights), she will. He responses with
audacious (bold) threats, calling his train together and
leave. He curses Goneril and says he still has one 'kind
and comfortable' (line 303) daughter left to go to (Regan)
13.1 Lear also admits that, when compared
to Goneril's bad behaviour, Cordelia's
small fault is put in perspective (She is
on his mind - impact from the Fool)
14 Albany enters in the middle of the fight, curious about
what's going on. Lear appeals to him rather helplessly
and carries on cursing at Goneril. Albany is puzzled by
Lear's passion and distress.
15 Lear kneels and calls on 'Nature' to help him. He hopes
Goneril will either be sterile or give birth to a thankless
child who will torment her. He then rushes out.
16 Albany seems shocked, but Goneril is unperturbed (not
17 Lear returns briefly, bewildered to find 50 of his knights
have been dismissed. (although there are references to
Lear's 100 knights in Act 2 scene 4) He threatens to take
but the power he has given away and refuses to weep
and insists that Regan will help him
18 After her father has gone, Goneril continues to complain
him and his followers. Goneril doesn't think that having
100 knights in the command of her father is a recipe for
political stability. Albany is uneasy but doesn't assert
himself and says they should wait and see what happens.
19 Goneril sends Oswald to Regan with a letter informing
her of the fight and asking for her support and doesn't
take care of Lear when herself has turned him out,
because this would make Goneril look bad.
20 Goneril then gives a tongue lashing to her husband
because she wary of his gentleness towards Lear.