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King Lear by William Shakespeare

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King Lear Summary

The play, "King Lear" by William Shakespeare, starts with noblemen Kent and Gloucester having a conversation and the audience finds out that Gloucester has two sons. Edgar who is his heir, and Edmund his unimportant son. This info. leads to the mini-plot. Then, Lear enters to say that he is going to end his life's tasks and problems. He then points to the map, he tells the people there that he will split his land into three parts. They are going to be given to his three daughters. The two oldest, Goneril and Regan, tell their father that their love for him goes beyond expectations. The youngest one, Cordelia, tells him that she loves him, but only as she should love her father. He is then angered and disappointed at the lack of love by her. Then splits his land evenly between Goneril and Regan, and then banishes Cordelia. Then France decides to marry the now banished Cordelia. When Kent tries to defend Cordelia, he banishes him too.

Meanwhile, Goneril and Regan decide that if Lear becomes too much of a nuisance, they will have to decide what disciplinary actions to take. In the developing subplot, Edmund complains of his unhappiness at being an illegitimate--and thus, disinherited--son. As part of his plot to claim what is not his, Edmund gives a false letter to his father, Gloucester, declaring that Edgar is proposing that they kill their father and split the wealth between them. The cunning Edmund easily convinces his father that Edgar cannot be trusted. Within a short time, Lear moves to Goneril's palace. Goneril tells Lear that he needs a smaller troop, more decorous in behavior and better suited to the king's rank and age. The king is very angry and says he will pack up his people and move to Regan's palace. Lear's anger continues to build, and he calls upon nature to curse Goneril's womb. In response, Goneril turns out 50 of Lear's retinue. As the subplot develops, Edmund wounds himself slightly, pretending that Edgar has attacked him. Certain that Edgar will also try to kill him, Gloucester promises to find the means to make Edmund his heir. After his escape into the woods, Edgar decides that he will disguise himself as a Bedlam beggar, who will be known as Poor Tom. Meanwhile, Cornwall orders an impassioned Kent placed in the stocks. Lear arrives and quickly realizes that Regan has joined Goneril in seeking to reduce Lear's authority. Lear reminds his daughters that he gave them all that they now enjoy, but they are unmoved. An angry Lear calls for his horse, and rides into the storm with his Fool for protection. Exposed to the storm, the Fool attempts to reason with his king, but Lear will have no part of submission, especially before his daughters. Soon the king and Fool are joined by Edgar disguised as Poor Tom. Gloucester tells Edmund of the plot to save the king, unaware that he is divulging the plans to a traitor. Edmund immediately resolves to tell Cornwall of the plan. Edmund soon receives his reward: Gloucester's title and lands. The captured Gloucester is tortured by Regan, who fiendishly plucks at his beard, and Cornwall, who gouges out Gloucester's eyes, but not before one of Cornwall's servants draws a sword and stabs Cornwall, who soon dies of his wounds. Later, Edgar is both shocked and dismayed

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