King Lear Act 4, scene 7 Summary & Analysis
New! Understand every line of King Lear.Read our modern English translation of this scene.
Back in the French camp, Cordelia thanks Kent for all the service that he has shown her father and asks him to take off his peasant's clothing. However, Kent insists, he must remain in disguise for a short while longer. Cordelia then asks the Doctor how her father is doing. The Doctor replies that he is asleep. Cordelia prays: "O, you kind gods,/ Cure this great breach in his abused nature" (16-7). The Doctor says that they will wake him up. Two servants enter, carrying Lear on a chair. The Doctor cues for music to be played. Cordelia kisses her father while commenting on her astonishment at her sisters' cruelty in throwing Lear out into the storm: "Mine enemy's dog,/ Though he had bit me, should have stood that night/ Against my fire" (42-4).
Cordelia shows decency, and the faith in the gods, exhibited primarily by older characters in the play, such as Lear and Gloucester. Like Lear, too, she marvels at the unkindness of her sisters using an animal comparison (she would have been kinder to her enemy's dog than they were to their own father). That she would be kind to an enemy's dog reflects her innate and a-political sense of decency and justice.
At the doctor's urging and with music, Lear wakes up, at first unsure whether he is alive or dead. Cordelia asks him to look at her and give her his benediction. He fears he is "not in [his] perfect mind" (72) but believes that the woman in front of him is Cordelia. She assures him that she is and that he is in his own kingdom. Cordelia asks him to take a walk with her. Begging her to "forget and forgive," because he is "old and foolish" (99), he accepts. They exit.
Upon first waking up, unsure of his state, Lear is reluctant to trust the senses, which have so misled him—both when he misjudged his children and in his madness. The reunion between Lear and Cordelia joyfully restores the family bond trampled on everywhere else in the play up to this point.
Kent remains on stage with a Gentleman. They discuss the state of the battle: Edmund is leading the British force. The Gentleman states that there is a rumor that Kent himself is with Edgar in Germany. After he has departed, Kent remarks that the outcome of his ruse, disguising himself, will depend on how the day's battle is fought.
The Gentleman's failure to recognize Kent, however, reminds the audience that many of the misrecognitions and blindnesses of the play have yet to be resolved as the conflict comes to a head