First 498 words of the document:
King Lear: Act 4 Scene 2
Key: plot form language structure character
Lines 1-18: Goneril and Edmund at Albany's palace. Apparently they have
discussed becoming lovers. They are told that Albany's reactions to recent
events are not what they expected. Goneril says her husband is a coward.
She tells Edmund to return to the duke of Cornwall and help with his army.
Albany is portrayed by Goneril as being weak and is sided against her "mild
husband" she also calls him a coward "cowish terror of his spirit"
Lines 19-43: Goneril and Edmund part like lovers, their conversation filled
with lots of sexual connotations. Albany enters to tell Goneril bluntly that
she and Regan have treated Lear inhumanely.
"A fool usurps my bed" (line 28) calling her husband, Albany, a fool and
invites Edmund to be her lover.
Lines 17-18: "give the distaff into my husband's hands" metaphor for
domestic, female role, she is saying she is taking control and her husband is
going to lose his masculine control as husband due to his cowardness.
Line 27: Goneril is flirting with Edmund saying that she feels he is a better
man than Albany and therefore deserves her sexual services more.
Lines 44-72: Albany says that behaviour such as Goneril's will lead to chaos
and the fall of civilisation. She accuses him of cowardice and of having the
wrong priorities. She says she should be preparing to defend his kingdom
from the French. News arrives of Cornwall's death from the wound he
received in the fight with his servant.
Insults used a lot in this passage: "milk livered man!" (line 50), saying
Albany is week so can be easily controlled, shown also by the use of a short
exclamative sentence. Albany calls Goneril evil and uses words that connote
evil (lines 59-60) such as "devil" and "fiend" and "be monster not thy
feature" on line 63, which suggests she is behaving like a monster.
Lines 73-97: Albany is shocked by Gloucester's treatment and considers
Cornwall's death as fitting retribution. Goneril is given a letter which a
messenger has brought her from Regan. She is worried that Regan, now a
widow, might come between her and Edmund. Albany intends to have avenge
Albany who has been previously seen as weak, becomes stronger in his
character as he feels angry by what has happened to Gloucester.
Dramatic irony as the messenger revels what happened to Gloucester, but
the audience will already know this.
Conflict between Goneril and Regan (dramatic effect)
Goneril's aside (lines 83-86) allows the audience to know what she is feeling
without the other characters knowing.