King Lear | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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King Lear | Scene Summaries

See Scene Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • Sometime in the Middle Ages

    King Lear divides his kingdom among his daughters.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • Soon after

    Edmund declares his intention to displace his brother, Edgar.

    Act 1, Scene 2
  • Within a few days

    Kent disguises himself to stay with Lear.

    Act 1, Scene 4
  • A few days later

    when Regan and Goneril refuse to let him keep his knights, Lear leaves.

    Act 2, Scene 4
  • That night

    Lear and his fool get caught in the storm.

    Act 3, Scene 2
  • The next day

    Cornwall blinds Gloucester as punishment for helping the king.

    Act 3, Scene 7
  • That day

    Cornwall dies after his servant attacks him.

    Act 4, Scene 2
  • Soon after

    French forces land to assist Lear.

    Act 4, Scene 3
  • That day

    Edgar kills Edmund in a duel.

    Act 5, Scene 3
  • A few minutes later

    Cordelia, Lear, Gloucester, and the Fool die.

    Act 5, Scene 3

Scene Summaries Chart

Scene Summary
Act 1, Scene 1 The Earl of Kent and the Earl of Gloucester are talking about what has been happening in the kingdom. When Kent asks abo... Read More
Act 1, Scene 2 Gloucester's son Edmund enters, ranting about his status as a bastard and how he plans to displace his legitimate brothe... Read More
Act 1, Scene 3 Goneril consults with her steward, Oswald, complaining about how her father and his men have been acting. Oswald reports... Read More
Act 1, Scene 4 Kent takes the stage alone. He has disguised himself so he can stay near Lear, despite Lear's having banished him. When ... Read More
Act 1, Scene 5 Lear, his Fool, and Kent (in disguise) enter. Lear sends Kent to Gloucester with a letter. Lear's Fool predicts Regan wi... Read More
Act 2, Scene 1 Edmund and an acquaintance named Curan discuss the fact that Regan and her husband, the Duke of Cornwall, will be at Glo... Read More
Act 2, Scene 2 Still in disguise, Kent arrives at Gloucester's house. When Oswald greets him, Kent insults Oswald and then attacks him.... Read More
Act 2, Scene 3 Edgar takes the stage by himself. He's been declared an outlaw and is on the run. He's going to disguise himself by dirt... Read More
Act 2, Scene 4 Lear and his Fool find Kent in the stocks. Lear can't believe this, and he can't get anyone to explain. The Fool, who ha... Read More
Act 3, Scene 1 Kent and one of Lear's gentlemen meet in a field. Kent tells the gentleman three things: the king is out in the storm wi... Read More
Act 3, Scene 2 Lear and his Fool wander in the storm. Lear rages against the elements and his daughters. His Fool comments on his compl... Read More
Act 3, Scene 3 At Gloucester's castle, Gloucester complains to Edmund about the state of affairs; earlier, when he complained about how... Read More
Act 3, Scene 4 Out in the storm, Kent escorts Lear into the hut. At first Lear sends the Fool inside but refuses to enter the hut himse... Read More
Act 3, Scene 5 Back at Gloucester's castle, Edmund and Cornwall take the stage. Cornwall swears revenge on Gloucester, while Edmund is ... Read More
Act 3, Scene 6 Gloucester, Lear, the Fool, Kent (in disguise), and Edgar (in disguise) are in the hut. Gloucester leaves for a while. E... Read More
Act 3, Scene 7 At Gloucester's castle, Cornwall, Regan, Goneril, and Edmund take the stage, accompanied by servants. Cornwall announces... Read More
Act 4, Scene 1 Edgar, still disguised, takes the stage and delivers a speech to say that change is good; now that he's at the bottom, a... Read More
Act 4, Scene 2 Goneril and Edmund enter, followed by Oswald. Oswald reports that Albany seems changed and is responding to news inappro... Read More
Act 4, Scene 3 Kent and a gentleman take the stage, talking about recent developments. The King of France has had to go back home, but ... Read More
Act 4, Scene 4 Cordelia takes the stage with a doctor and some soldiers. She sends some soldiers to look for the missing king. Once the... Read More
Act 4, Scene 5 Regan and Oswald take the stage, talking about how Albany's forces have arrived. Regan says that blinding Gloucester and... Read More
Act 4, Scene 6 Gloucester follows the disguised Edgar, who claims he's leading Gloucester up a steep hill to the cliffs of Dover so tha... Read More
Act 4, Scene 7 Cordelia, Kent, the doctor, and some servants take the stage. Cordelia opens the scene by acknowledging Kent's character... Read More
Act 5, Scene 1 Edmund and Regan enter. Edmund asks if anyone knows whether Albany's decision remains the same or if he has changed his ... Read More
Act 5, Scene 2 Cordelia leads Lear across the stage and exits, followed by the sounds of battle. Edgar enters, leading Gloucester. He l... Read More
Act 5, Scene 3 Edmund and his soldiers enter, with Lear and Cordelia as captives. Edmund sends them to prison and then dispatches a cap... Read More
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