Edgar leads Gloucester to the shade of a tree, so that he can rest there during the battle. Then Edgar leaves his father, assuring that if he ever returns again, he will bring him comfort. He exits. After the sound of an alarm signaling a retreat, Edgar appears onstage again. He reports that the French forces have lost and Lear and Cordelia have been taken prisoner. Gloucester says that he would like to die and rot on the spot, but Edgar insists on leading him along.
Edgar shows care and tenderness for his father to the last. Meanwhile, Shakespeare sets the main action of the battle offstage—solving a dramatic problem (how to show a whole army on stage) but also maintaining focus on what is most important in the play—not war, but rather familial relationships.