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King Lear, Essential Revision Notes

Summary: Act 1 3

Scene 1 3

Scene 2 4

Scene 3 5

Scene 4 5

Scene 5 6

Summary: Act 2 7

Scene 1 7

Scene 2 8

Scene 3 8

Scene 4 8

Summary: Act 3 10

Scene 1 10

Scene 2 10

Scene 3 10

Scene 4 11

Scene 5 12

Scene 6 12

Scene 7 12

Summary: Act 4 14

Scene 1 14

Scene 2 14

Scene 3 15

Scene 4 15

Scene 5 15

Scene 6 15

Scene 7 16

Summary: Act 5 18

Scene 1 18

Scene 2 18

Scene 3 19

Analysis of Major Characters 21

Themes 25

Aspects of the Story 27

Literary Genre 28

Cultural Context 29

General Vision & View Point 30

Sample Answer: Leaving Cert Higher Level (2006) English Paper 2 31

Summary: Act 1

Scene 1

At King Lear’s palace in Britain, the earls of Kent and Gloucester, along with Edmund enter. Gloucester and Kent, are discussing King Lear’s plans to divide his kingdom. They speculate as to why the king was decided to give the same amount of territory to bot of his sons-in-laws, even though he prefers one to the other. Their conversation quickly changes, however, when Kent asks Gloucester to introduce his son. Gloucester introduces Edmund, explaining that Edmund is his illegitimate son (he cracks jokes about his affair with Edmund’s mother, who was apparently quite fun, but too fertile for everyone’s good), being raised away from home for the past nine years and will be returning to his home-away-from-home soon, but that he nevertheless loves him dearly.

King Lear, the ruler of Britain, enters his throne room and makes a formal announcement about his plan to divide the kingdom among his three daughters and their husbands. Lear says he will still officially be king; meaning he will retain all of his power and revenues, but he intends to give up the responsibilities of government and spend his old age visiting his children. He feels that dividing up the kingdom now will avoid any disputes after his death. There is also the matter of his youngest and unmarried daughter, Cordelia; the king of France and the Duke of Burgundy are at his court at that time, competing for her hand. But first he commands his three daughters to say whi...

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