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Quotes

Quote #10

O, sir, you are old.
Nature in you stands on the very verge
Of her confine: you should be ruled and led
By some discretion, that discerns your state
Better than you yourself. Therefore, I pray you,
That to our sister you do make return;
Say you have wrong'd her, sir. (2.4.4)

When Regan points out that Lear is "old" and that his life ("nature") is on the verge of "her confine" (Lear doesn't have much longer to live), she implies that Lear's old age makes him unfit to rule a kingdom. Lear would be better off, says Goneril, if he let someone else take care of him. Is Goneril right – is Lear too old and infirm to govern even himself? Or, is her assessment unfair? For more about the implications of Regan's remarks about Lear's age, check out our discussion of "Old Men and Babies" in "Symbols."

Quote #11

[…] There is division,
Although as yet the face of it be cover'd
With mutual cunning, 'twixt Albany and Cornwall;
Who have--as who have not, that their great stars
Throned and set high?
[…]
But, true it is, from France there comes a power
Into this scatter'd kingdom; who already,
Wise in our negligence, have secret feet
In some of our best ports, and are at point
To show their open banner. (3.1.4)

Although Lear had hoped that division of his kingdom would prevent strife and result in unity, Lear's decision has clearly resulted in conflict and disorder. Here, Kent reveals that civil war is brewing between Albany and Cornwall and France is preparing to invade.

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