King Lear


William Shakespeare

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King Lear: Act 3, scene 1 Summary & Analysis

Read our modern English translation of this scene.
Kent, out looking for Lear, runs into a Gentleman. The Gentleman describes seeing Lear out in the storm, from which even fierce animals ("the cub drawn bear" [14] and "belly-pinched wolf" [15]) are hiding, with only the Fool to keep him company.
The Gentleman's language reminds us that the mad Lear's daughters have driven him to the animal state of being subject to nature's forces.
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Seeing that 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 Dover and report of the "unnatural and bemadding sorrow" (3.1.42) to which the King has been subjected. Although he does not reveal his real identity, he gives the Gentleman his purse, containing a ring, which he should show Cordelia who will be at Dover. Kent says she will recognize it.
Kent is wise to the division and disorder already mounting among the British. He hopes that the invading French force can take advantage of this division in order to restore a more legitimate authority in the British kingdom. He also alludes to the superior insight and recognition that exists between Cordelia and himself with the ring in his purse.
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