King Lear, king of Britain, is getting older, so he decides that he will give up his throne and divide his kingdom evenly between his three daughters. Before doing so, he decides that he will test his daughters, so he asks each of them to tell him how much she loves him. The two older daughters, Goneril and Regan, offer very flattering answers to the question. The youngest daughter, Cordelia, who also happens to be Lear’s favorite, is quiet. She says that she has no words to describe the love she has for her father. This answer infuriates Lear, and he disowns her. The king of France who has been courting Cordelia, says that he still wants to marry her even though she now has nothing, so she leave with him for France without the blessing of her father.
It does not take long for the king to realize that his decision was not a good one, as his two older daughters begin to undermine and betray him. As a result he begins to slowly go insane. He flees during a huge thunderstorm, along with his Fool and Kent (a loyal nobleman who is in disguise). They wander on the heath.
At the same time, Gloucester, an elderly nobleman, is having problems with Edmund (his illegitimate son) and Edgar (his legitimate son). Edmund is trying to convince him that Edgar is trying to kill him. Gloucester starts a manhunt for Edgar, who runs away and disguises himself as “Poor Tom” (a crazy begger). He also heads out onto the heath.
[See next post for the rest]