Full Text Scene Link Directory

This full text version of King Lear is divided into 40 short scenes or scene segments. Each segment includes the corresponding clip from the Ian McKellen film. Any scene or segment may be linked from the table below.

Segment Description
Notation How this edition of King Lear represents annotations, stage directions, etc.
Roles List of Persons of the Play
ACT I
I.i.a Edgar and Gloucester discuss pending division of kingdom, meet Edmund.
I.i.b Lear asks for love oath. Cordelia refuses, receives nothing. Lear banishes Kent. Lear declares his intention to keep 100 knights and rotate monthly between the castles of Goneril and Regan.
I.i.c Cordelia goes away with the King of France. Goneril and Regan confer.
I.ii.a Edmund fools his father Gloucester with a forged letter into thinking Edgar means to kill him.
I.ii.b Edmund persuades Edgar that his father has, on false reports, become violently angry with him (this of course is true).
I.iii Goneril complains to her steward Oswald about Lear’s unruly knights.
I.iv.a Kent returns in disguise, promises to serve Lear (who has come in with his unruly knights). Lear pushes Oswald, Kent then trips him, earning a tip.
I.iv.b Lear’s Fool finally arrives, abuses Lear for his stupid move and cavorts generally.
I.iv.c Goneril removes one-half of Lear’s knights, sending Lear into a rage and a departure for Regan’s castle.
I.v. Lear sends a message with Kent. He and Fool bemoan their states.
ACT II
II.i At Gloucester’s house. Edmund feigns fight with Edgar, cuts himself to make it convincing, draws Gloucester into seeking Edgar’s life, wins favor of Cornwall, Regan’s husband.
II.ii.a Kent verbally abuses Oswald, provoking a sword fight, stopped by Cornwall. Kent’s continued rudeness earns him an evening in the stocks.
II.ii.b Edgar decides that safety can only be realized by faking complete madness.
II.ii.c Lear arrives at Gloucester’s, finds Kent in the stocks, attempts to assert his powers as king. Kent is released.
II.ii.d At first sympathetic to Lear, Regan supports her sister’s reduction of his train. Goneril arrives, the pair deprive him of all but one, at which Lear charges from the house into a brutal storm.
II.ii.e Regan orders the doors closed against the ravages of the weather outside.
ACT III
III.i Kent gives message for Cordelia and a ring for recognition to messenger knight.
III.ii Lear howls against the storm. The Fool and then Kent (in disguise still) attempt to get him into shelter.
III.iii Gloucester foolishly tells Edmund of a letter he has received announcing an invasion of England by France to redress the wrongs committed against Lear. Edmund decides immediately to betray him to Cornwall.
III.iv.a Lear, Kent, and the Fool seek shelter, find Edgar disguised as a madman. Madness becomes the scene. Lear insists on being disrobed completely.
III.iv.b Gloucester arrives with a torch. After Lear confers with his “philosopher” Edgar, they repair to a shelter next to Gloucester’s house.
III.v On the evidence provided by Edmund, Cornwall declares Gloucester a traitor, and names Edmund the Duke of Gloucester.
III.vi The mad quartet conduct a mock trial of Goneril and Regan. Gloucester returns, insists Lear be taken to Dover for safety, but is then captured himself.
III.vii Charging Gloucester with treason, Cornwall gouges out Gloucester’s eyes. A servant kills Cornwall in return. Regan kills the servant. Another servant patches Gloucester’s eyes, but he is banished from his own home.
ACT IV
IV.i Edgar finds Gloucester blinded, leads him to Dover.
IV.ii Edmund returns with Goneril, promises her his love, then departs. Albany rebukes her, she replies spitefully, sends a (fateful) message to Edmund.
IV.iii Kent meets a gentleman who advises that the King of France has returned to France, and the invading armies are now led by Monsieur la Far (from whom we hear no more).
IV.iv Cordelia appears, knowing of Lear’s madcap ways, orders him to be found.
IV.v Oswald finds Regan, refuses to give her the letter intended for Edmund. Regan declares herself, now widowed, more fit for Edmund’s attentions. She tells Oswald to kill Gloucester if he encounters him, as he is a menace even in his blind state.
IV.vi.a Edgar leads Gloucester to Dover, persuades him that they stand over its high cliffs. Gloucester throws himself over the cliffs. Edgar, in a different voice, seems to revive him, after which Gloucester decides to let nature end his life.
IV.vi.b Lear comes in, has madcap but penetrating conversation with Gloucester about almost everything.
IV.vi.c Cordelia’s guard find Lear, attempt to take him, but Lear runs away.
IV.vi.d Oswald arrives, recognizes Gloucester, attempts to kill him, but Edgar kills Oswald instead. He discovers the letter to Edmund and realizes the threat to Albany.
IV.vii Lear and Cordelia reunite after Lear recovers from a long sleep.
ACT V
V.i Edmund and Albany organize England’s forces. Edgar approaches Albany with the letter, says to let the trumpet sound if France should lose the impending war.
V.ii Edgar takes Gloucester to a safe place. The war happens. Lear and Cordelia lose.
V.iii.a Edmund sends Cordelia and Lear to prison, secretly orders a guard to kill them.
V.iii.b Albany seeks Lear and Cordelia, but Edmund argues for their being sequestered for a day to let the troops recover. Goneril poisons Regan. Albany arrests Edmund for treason, but Goneril intervenes. Albany challenges Edmund and calls for the trumpets.
V.iii.c Edgar arrives disguised as a warrior, kills Edmund. Goneril leaves and kills herself. Dying, Edmund discloses what he ordered for Lear and Cordelia. They dispatch soldiers to rescue them.
V.iii.d They are too late. Lear comes in carrying Cordelia, howling. He expires in grief. Albany cedes power it seems to Edgar as Kent leaves to join his master.
Editing Principles and resources applied to editing King Lear for WNET Great Performances