Here is the famous and moving tragedy of a King who foolishly divides his kingdom between his two wicked daughters and estranges himself from the young daughter who loves him - a theatrical spectacle of outstanding proportions.
Lear : King of Britain
Goneril : 1st daughter of the king and wife of duke of Albany
Regan : 2nd daughter of the king and wife of duke of Cornwall
Cordelia : 3rd daughter of the king and to be married
King of France : Joint suitors who came to the court of king Lear to marry Cordelia
Duke of Burgundy :
Earl of Kent : A good hearted man who loves the king very much
Lear, the King of Britain had three daughters. The first one Goneril is married to duke of Albany; the 2nd is married to duke of Cornwall. The King of France and Duke of Burgundy have come and staying in the court of the King to marry the third daughter Cordelia.
The king has become old and thought of giving the burden of governing the country to younger people. Hence he called his three daughters and asked which of them loved him the best.
The first daughter, Goneril has replied
Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter,
Dearer than eye sight,space and liberty
Beyond what can be valued,rich or rare
No less than life,with grace,health,beauty,honor;
As much as child e'er loved,or father found;
A love that makes breath poor and speech unable,
Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
The king felt very happy and said that he will give one third of his kingdom to the eldest daughter. Then his second daughter said that she loves her father more than the first daughter and praised the king in many words. The king felt very happy and declared that he is giving another one third of his kingdom to his second daughter. Now lastly the third daughter Cordelia said that she loves him as has begot her, bred her, loved her and will return those duties as are right fit. She said after her marriage she will give half her love to her husband and half to father and will not give total love to father. The king became very angry and said that he is not giving any property to Cordelia and gave the balance one third kingdom to the first two daughters equally.
Earl of Kent who loved the king objected to this and told that the king can give the kingdom later but not now. King became angry on Earl of Kent and asked him to leave Britain in 6 days and on the seventh day, he will be killed if found in the country.
So, King Lear bifurcated his kingdom in two equal parts and gave to his first two daughters. The King said he will keep 100 knights with him and the fool to keep him company and also said he will stay with his two daughters by turns. He called the King of France and Duke of Burgundy and told them the same thing and asked who will marry Cordelia without any property. Duke of Burgundy refused to marry and left. But King of France said he wanted Cordelia only and not her kingdom and married and taken her to France to be her queen. The King Lear shifted to the house of the eldest daughter for the first month.
Within no time Goneril, the first daughter has shown her true colors and started to ill treat the king. Her servants do not care for the orders of the King. She is constantly saying why 100 knights are required. Meanwhile Earl of Kent has not left Britain for the love of the king and with changed name as Caius and in disguise joined the king's men and started to serve his King Lear. At first, Lear could not believe his eyes and ears, nor that his daughter could speak so unkindly.
So the King Lear decided to move to his second daughter, Regan. Even before the King arrived, Goneril sent word to Regan that their father is speaking all lies and asked not to treat him properly. Regan and her husband have not received the king with pomp. Goneril herself came to Regan and set Regan against her father, the king Lear. Hence Regan also told the king Lear to dispense with the 100 knights and also not allowed her father into her palace. So these two wicked daughters surpassing each other has ill treated the king and shown cruelty.
Thus King Lear became a beggar within no time and is on the streets accompanied by his faithful follower Earl of Kent in disguise as Ciaus. In no time, Lear became lunatic. This information has reached Cordelia and she with the permission of her husband with a small army reached Britain in search of her father. She found him in fields and with the help of many doctors she tried to cure the king of his illness.
Meanwhile, the two wicked sisters now started falling in love with another man, Earl of Glousester, Edmund, a very cruel person, neglecting their husbands. At this time, husband of Regan has died. Regan expressed to remarry the cruel Earl of Gloucester. But her sister, Goneril also loved the same man. As she also loved the same man, Goneril has poisoned her sister Regan.
At the same time, the two sisters have sent an army under the Earl to defeat Cordelia. Cordelia is defeated and prisoned. The Duke of Albany, who is innocent and does not know the cruelty of his wife to her father, came to know of the treachery of his wife and imprisoned her. This and other bad deeds have forced her to end her life. Thus the lives of the two cruel and wicked sisters ended. The poor and innocent, loving child Cordelia also died in the prison. Meanwhile King Lear who started to regain health also died.
Later the Duke of Albamy defeated Edmund and became the king is not concerned to our story. It is great tragedy that king Lear once the monarch of Britain having given his kingdom to his two wicked daughters has died like a beggar, deceived and thrown away by the daughters. Codelia though good and loving her father also died.