King Lear | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Act 4, Scene 4

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Act 4, Scene 4 of William Shakespeare's play King Lear.

King Lear | Act 4, Scene 4 | Summary



Cordelia takes the stage with a doctor and some soldiers. She sends some soldiers to look for the missing king. Once they leave, she asks the doctor what can be done. He says that perhaps rest will help the king recover his senses. Another messenger arrives, telling her the enemy forces of Cornwall and Albany are getting close. They all leave.


This is another scene blending exposition and character development, although there's also some subtle symbolism. The audience learns that Lear is still mad and that Cordelia wishes to help him, showing her goodness, loyalty, and level-headedness. Whereas Lear made bad decisions about his kingdom of his own volition, Cordelia is wise enough to seek professional help. Her calmness at the news of the approaching enemy force shows the depth of her character. She deserves to be queen more than Lear deserves to be king.

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