King Lear | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Course Hero, "King Lear Study Guide," August 10, 2016, accessed November 22, 2017, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/King-Lear/.

King Lear | Act 4, Scene 7 | Summary

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Summary

Cordelia, Kent, the doctor, and some servants take the stage. Cordelia opens the scene by acknowledging Kent's character: "O, thou good Kent, how shall I live and work / To match thy goodness?" She urges Kent to take off his disguise, but Kent says he needs it to finish his duties. Servants carry the sleeping Lear onstage. Cordelia talks to Lear while he's sleeping. Lear wakes, and he is still disturbed. Eventually, Lear recognizes Cordelia, saying, "If you have poison for me, I will drink it"—because she has cause to be angry with him. The doctor pronounces him largely cured. Lear, Cordelia, and the doctor exit, leaving Kent and one of the gentlemen onstage. The gentleman shares news with Kent: Cornwall is dead, and Edmund is leading his forces. He also shares false reports about Edgar being in Germany. Both men then leave.

Analysis

This scene confirms Cordelia's wisdom in consulting a doctor. Lear may not be fully recovered, but his madness breaks. Her public praise of Kent shows she is an accurate judge of his behavior, something her father was not at the beginning of the play. The scene also shows how fully humbled Lear is, as he calls himself "very foolish" and offers to drink poison.

This scene also functions as a quiet and at times amusing interlude between the pathos of Gloucester at Dover and the rush of action that is about to come in Act 5.

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