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King Lear | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Act 3, Scene 1

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Act 3, Scene 1 of William Shakespeare's play King Lear.

King Lear | Act 3, Scene 1 | Summary



Kent and one of Lear's gentlemen meet in a field. Kent tells the gentleman three things: the king is out in the storm with only his Fool for company, Albany and Cornwall are feuding, and the King of France has sent troops to England to take advantage of the disorder. Kent sends the gentleman to Dover to report on the king's pathetic situation. Kent gives him a ring to show Cordelia so she will know the message comes from a genuine source (Kent). They then agree to look for the king and to call to each other if they see him, and then they leave in different directions.


This is a brief but highly useful scene. Because Act 2 closes with Lear's daughters essentially consigning their father to the storm, the audience will be wondering about the king's welfare as Act 3 opens. Here, Kent confirms that he is indeed outdoors in the storm.

Lear has been petulant at times, and the audience might doubt his version of the storm, but Kent has been nothing but straightforward. He is a trustworthy source of information.

Kent's idea of sending a message to Cordelia kindles hope in the audience that the good daughter will come back. It also continues the motif of written communication.

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