Act 1. Scene 1
1. What do we learn from the discussion about Gloucester's son Edmund? Which of Gloucester's sons is older (and thus would be his heir if both were legitimate)? (Note that Gloucester is pronounced "Gloster," as it was spelled in some of the early editions.)
2. What is Lear's plan? What happens to it? What key word appears several times in?
3. Why does Burgundy reject Cordelia as his wife? Why does France accept her?
Act 1. Scene 2
1. Read Edmund's soliloquy carefully. What do we learn about him and his plans? What does he seem to mean by the word "nature"? What is he planning to do? What device has he already prepared?
2. How does Edmund get his father to read the letter? Does anything sound familiar?
3. What does "Edgar" say in the letter? Who really wrote the letter? Are you surprised at Gloucester's response to what Edmund said? Does Gloucester mean the same thing by "natural" (based on his use of "unnatural") as Edmund means by the word?
4. What explanation for the strange events happening does Gloucester give? now, what does he believe about Edgar? Based on how much evidence? How does Edmund, in his soliloquy , respond to what Gloucester has just said? What is his view of the nature of humanity (he would say "man") and the universe?
5. How easily does Edgar fall for Edmund's plot? What does Edmund try to make Edgar believe has happened? Why does Edmund expect that Edgar can be manipulated by Edmund's obviously hypocritical (to us, given his most recent soliloquy) use of the same astrological "evidence" that Gloucester made use of?
Act 1. Scene 3
1. Lear has begun his stay with Goneril. Is he by himself? How is he behaving? Is Goneril justified in being angry?
2. Note the language with which Goneril criticizes her father (specific quotes):
3. In his mind, has Lear really “retired”? Explain.
4. What are Goneril’s orders to Oswald regarding her father? Evaluate her tactics. In what ways does she remind you of Edmund?
Act 1. Scene 1
1. Gloucester's son Edmund is power hungry and plans to get rid of anyone that might prevent him from getting to power. We learn from him that using unethical ways to achieve a goal is not wise. His older brother is Edgar. If both were legitimate then the rightful heir is Edgar.
2. King Lear plans to give the largest part of the kingdom to his daughter Cordelia who he feels has the most affection him. The key word that appears several times is love.
3. Burgundy rejects Cordelia as his wife because he is interested in wealth and Cordelia offers no dowry or wealth France accepts because of his rivalry with Burgundy.
Act 1 Scene 2
1. Edmunds soliloquy reveals that he feels he is the legitimate son on the king and that his elder brother Edgar is illegitimate. Therefore, he feels that he naturally deserves to inherit the kingdom hence his use of the word nature. He plans to create enmity and chaos in the Kingdom and declare Edgar illegitimate and that is the tool he has in hand.
2. Edmund gets his father to read the letter by pretending to hide it.
3. Edgar claims he is legitimate in the letter and that Edmund is illegitimate. The letter is in fact written by Edmund to arouse debate about legitimacy.
4. The strange events result from debates on legitimacy of King Lear's sons
5. Edgar falls for Edmund plot because he is curious and doubtful of his legitimacy.
Act 1. Scene 3
1. Lear is naive and irrational
2. Goneril criticizes Lear for being indecisive
3. King Lear has not retired because he still has plans or diving the kingdom
4. Goneril orders Oswald to keep an eye on Lear