King Lear

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Albany Character Analysis

The husband of Lear's older daughter, Goneril, and a Duke. Albany is kind and generous, in contrast to his malicious wife, and criticizes her for her treacherous behavior toward her father. However, he realizes the viciousness of the other characters he is aligned with (namely, Edmund and Regan) too late in the play to prevent the evil that they cause.

Albany Quotes in King Lear

The King Lear quotes below are all either spoken by Albany or refer to Albany. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of King Lear published in 2004.
Act 4, scene 2 Quotes
"The nature which contemns its origin
Cannot be bordered certain in itself."
Related Characters: Albany (speaker), Goneril
Page Number: 4.2.41-42
Explanation and Analysis:

Albany has realized the deceitful way Regan and Goneril treated Lear. He condemns them, here, for turning against their own father.

Shakespeare plays once more with the complex term “nature,” here used to refer to both Goneril’s disposition and to her blood-linked relationship to her father. In the first sense, Goneril’s “nature” means her cruel personality that has acted independently of any filial compassion and thus lashed out brutally against her father. But by selecting the possessive pronoun “its” for “its origin,” Albany implies that nature is inherently linked to the “origin” of one’s parents. Goneril’s actions against her father have thus both been characteristic of her nature but also have betrayed that nature because she “contemns”—sees with contempt—her father.

Albany brings these two meanings of nature together in the second line. That something cannot “be bordered certain in itself” means that it cannot have a secure sense of its identity or disposition. That is to say, it is a nature that cannot be sure of its borders and thus can never know just how it will react. Albany implies that turning against one’s heritage is a kind of self-abnegation—a violation of one’s own nature. Thus Shakespeare plays with the dual meaning of nature as identity and origin to differentiate between those who value heritage and those who belittle it.

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Albany Character Timeline in King Lear

The timeline below shows where the character Albany appears in King Lear. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 1
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Old Age Theme Icon
Lear enters with Albany, Cornwall, Goneril, Regan, Cordelia, and their attendants. Having sent Gloucester to fetch Cordelia's suitors, the... (full context)
Act 1, scene 4
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Blindness and Insight Theme Icon
As Lear departs, Albany enters, tentatively criticizing the lack of hospitality that Goneril has shown to her father. Goneril... (full context)
Act 2, scene 1
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
...court, Curran mentions to Edmund that there are rumors of imminent war between Cornwall and Albany. Curran also mentions that Cornwall and Regan will be arriving to stay at Gloucester's castle... (full context)
Act 3, scene 1
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Blindness and Insight Theme Icon
...the Gentleman is on his side, Kent confides in him that there is division between Albany and Cornwall, which is still a secret. And he asks the Gentleman to go to... (full context)
Act 3, scene 3
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Blindness and Insight Theme Icon
...shown to their father. Edmund agrees. Gloucester then tells Edmund that there is division between Albany and Cornwall and that he has received a letter with further information, too dangerous to... (full context)
Act 3, scene 7
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
...the army of France has landed, and telling her to send it to her husband Albany, he sends servants to find Gloucester. Then Cornwall tells Edmund to leave, as the revenge... (full context)
Act 4, scene 2
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
...traveled from Gloucester's—now Edmund's—castle, Goneril and Edmund arrive at Goneril's palace. Oswald emerges, reporting that Albany is "changed" (2.1.4) and that everything that should upset him pleases him. Goneril, irritated, tells... (full context)
Act 4, scene 6
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Blindness and Insight Theme Icon
...the letter in it—which is from Goneril to Edmund, attempting to persuade him to murder Albany and marry her. Shocked, Edgar resolves to head off and find the "murderous lechers" (304)... (full context)
Act 5, scene 1
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Edmund, leading the British forces with Regan, sends a messenger to Albany to confirm that Albany will send his forces to join theirs. Regan, meanwhile, pesters Edmund... (full context)
Act 5, scene 3
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Authority and Order Theme Icon
Disintegration, Chaos, Nothingness Theme Icon
Albany, Goneril, Regan and other soldiers enter to the sound of a flourish from a trumpet.... (full context)