1. THREE DAUGHTERS OF KING LEAR
These events happened long ago when King Lear was ruling Britain.
King Lear had three daughters. Their names were Goneril, Regain and Cordelia. Now Lear was a very old man. He was over eighty years of age. He was tired of ruling his kingdom. He needed peace and rest. So he made up his mind to give up his throne and to divide his kingdom among his three daughters. But first he wanted to know how much they loved him.
At first Lear asked his eldest daughter. Goneril how much she loved him. She was the wife of the Duke of Albany. Goneril declared in front of the whole court. Sire I love you more than I can say. You are dearer to me than life itself. I love you with all my heart and I shall always love you so.”
Lear was satisfied. He called for the map of his kingdom and drew his finger found one third of it. “This part is yours.” He said to Goneril. “I give this to you and your heirs for ever.”
Lear then asked his second daughter the same questions. Regan was the wife of the duke of Cornwall. She declared, “Sire, I love you as much as my sister does. Indeed, I love you more my only happiness is in loving you. My love for you will never change.”
Regan’s answer pleased the old king and he gave her also a third of his kingdom.
Then it was his youngest and favorite daughter. King Lear expected her to speak even more lovingly than her sisters had done. However Cordelia just stood there and said nothing.
“Well the king said to her, “What can you say, Cordelia?”
Nothing she answered.
The king was astonished at her answer “Nothing will come of nothing,” he said sternly.
2. KING LEAR DISOWNS CORDELIA
Cordelia had been annoyed at her sister’s words. She knew that they were insincere their words were false. They had flattered their old father in order to get his land. She could not deceive him. There was no deceit in her nature. So she answered the king sincerely. She said, “Yes are my father. You have brought me up. You have taken care of me. I obey you love you and honour you as a dutiful daughter should. But I cannot say like my sisters that my love for you will never change. Nor can I give you all my love. When I marry I shall give much of my love to my husband.”
Hearing this King Lear was wild with anger. In his old age he would be very pleased to hear flattering words. He believed his elder daughters and turned on Cordelia in great anger.
“Ungrateful, heartless child! He called her “You are no longer my daughter. I disown you. I give your share of my kingdom to your sisters.”
Then the king called the Dukes of Albany and Cornwall, the husbands of Goneril and Regan. He gave one half of his kingdom to each of them. He would keep for himself only the mane of king and a hundred knights to serve him. His home would be in the castles of his loving daughters for he had decided to lie with each of them in turn.
3. KING LEAR BANISHES KENT
The courtiers listened in amazement as the old king disowned his youngest daughter. They knew that she loved him sincerely. They were surprised to hear him give away his kingdom to her insincere sisters. However they feared the king’s hasty temper. Only one of them was unwise. This was the Earl of Kent. He was a faithful and honest man.
“You have rewarded those who flattered you and you have punished your most loving and truthful daughter,” he said to Lear. “A wise and just king would have done the opposite.
These words made Lear very angry. He shouted angrily, “Kent, I banish you from my kingdom. You have five days to get ready to leave. If on the sixth day you are still here, you shall be put to death. Go! Get out of my sight!”
Kent turned away sorrowfully. He said farewell, to Cordelia sadly. He begged God to protect her. He said to her sisters. “Let your deeds show your love for your father!”