King Lear | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

Get the eBook on Amazon to study offline.

Buy on Amazon Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "King Lear Study Guide." Course Hero. 10 Aug. 2016. Web. 29 Sep. 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2016, August 10). King Lear Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved September 29, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2016)



Course Hero. "King Lear Study Guide." August 10, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2023.


Course Hero, "King Lear Study Guide," August 10, 2016, accessed September 29, 2023,

Act 5, Scene 1

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Act 5, Scene 1 of William Shakespeare's play King Lear.

King Lear | Act 5, Scene 1 | Summary



Edmund and Regan enter. Edmund asks if anyone knows whether Albany's decision remains the same or if he has changed his mind, and he sends a gentleman to find out. As soon as the gentleman leaves, Regan pumps Edmund for gossip, asking if he has slept with Goneril yet. Edmund refuses to answer, saying the question is beneath her, and Regan tries to convince him she's asking because she is concerned about their political plans.

Albany and Goneril enter, and Regan reflects to herself that she'd rather lose the battle than lose Edmund to Goneril. Albany is concerned about the French invasion. Edgar enters, still disguised, and begs to speak to Albany. Everyone else leaves, and Edgar shows Albany the letter carried by Oswald, which alludes to the affair between Goneril and Edmund. Edgar says he'll provide a champion to prove by combat what the letter says is true. Edgar leaves, and Edmund enters to tell Albany about troop movements. After Albany departs to ready his forces, Edmund is alone. He talks to himself about how he's promised himself to both sisters—and how both are like poisonous snakes. Edmund plans to use Albany's authority to win the battle and then kill Lear and Cordelia.


In King Lear, good is associated with order and evil with disorder. Edmund refers to Regan and Goneril as different kinds of poisonous snakes; there is no way his affairs with the sisters can end well.

The ability of the evil characters to lie is breaking down. In Act 1, Edmund delivers subtle lies to mislead his father. In Act 5, when Regan claims she cares about Edmund's relationship with Goneril only because of what it means for their rebellion, she is clearly not being truthful. This is an important part of this complex morality tale. Cheaters and liars never prosper in the end.

This scene also demonstrates Edgar's rising stature. His offer to prove the truth through a trial by combat is heroic. Like so many other characters in King Lear, good or bad, Edgar uses a letter as a signal of transformation.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about King Lear? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!