Act 1 scene 3

Synopsis of Act 1 Scene 3

Goneril now has her father staying with her. Even in this very short period of time she has become annoyed at the behaviour of the knights accompanying Lear, so tells her steward, Oswald, to make them and her father feel increasingly unwelcome and uncomfortable. It is clear that Lear wants to continue to exercise the power of a king, even though he says he has relinquished it.

Commentary on Act 1 Scene 3

Goneril shows herself in her true colours. Like her father she has no patience: she will not tolerate her father’s behaviour when he strikes her man for scolding the Fool. Goneril thinks that her father cannot have it both ways: if he has given up his kingly authority, then he must behave accordingly. In this way, the problematic situation which Lear sets up in the play's first scene has its initial consequences here.

Hunter with hornHorns within: Horns are associated with hunting. The King is returning from the hunt and will therefore expect good care and attention from Goneril's servants.

occasions ... speak: Goneril actually wants to encourage situations which will allow her to speak publicly her objections to the behaviour of Lear and his retinue.

Investigating Act 1 Scene 3...

  • How does Goneril show lack of respect for her father?
  • Lear was uncompromisingly in control in the previous scene. How has he changed in Act 1 Sc 2?
  • How is Goneril’s attitude towards the old similar to that expressed by Edmund in Act 1 Sc 1?
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