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King Lear Act 3, Scene 1 Summary

  • Kent, still disguised as Caius, meets secretly with a nameless gentleman who informs him that the King is running about in a night so dreadful that even lions and bears have taken to their dens.
  • The gentleman says that only the Fool accompanies the King on his mad journey, trying to stave off Lear's madness with friendly jokes.
  • Kent then gives the gentleman a political update: tension between Regan's husband (Cornwall) and Goneril's husband (Albany) may result in a civil war, though they're keeping it hush-hush.
  • Aside from possibly having a war, both Albany and Cornwall may be united in one activity: plotting against the life of Lear, their father-in-law.
  • This has all been discovered by spies placed strategically in their houses as servants, and France (which has likely sent the spies) is even now preparing to make a move against these divided houses.
  • Kent asks the gentleman to be a messenger for him. He instructs the man to go to Dover (where Cordelia is) and report of Lear's recent ill-treatment.
  • Kent then reveals he's actually a gentleman himself, meaning that he's of noble breeding, and not just a random guy. But he doesn't go so far as to reveal that he's Kent.
  • He then gives the gentleman-messenger the contents of his entire purse so the messenger will be inspired to actually do the job at hand.
  • Furthermore, Kent instructs the man to deliver to Cordelia, whom he shall no doubt see, a ring. On seeing this ring, Cordelia will understand who sent the message (Kent).
  • Kent goes to find Lear and the Fool, who are confronting the elements alone.

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