How is the relationship between Goneril and Albany presented in Act 4: Sc 2 lines 29-69?

Expert Answers
Noelle Matteson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This scene conveys the poor relationships between Goneril and her husband Albany. The scene begins with Goneril expressing her attraction to Edmund, kissing him and bidding him farewell. When Albany arrives, he has nothing but harsh words for her, and she returns the insults. He condemns her for treating her father King Lear cruelly, declaring, “You are not worth the dust which the rude wind / Blows in your face.” Albany refers to her as vile, degenerate, and a devil: “Proper deformity seems not in the fiend / So horrid as in woman.” He even says he would tear her apart if she were not in the shape of a woman. Goneril calls him “Milk-liver'd man! / That bear'st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs.” She is angry at him for not rallying his troops against her sister Cordelia’s army from France. From this exchange, it is clear that Albany has more qualities that are commonly associated with femininity than Goneril can accept. He is more compassionate and subservient (some would say moral). She is more attracted to Edmund, who, in contrast to Albany, is resolute and pragmatic. Albany despises Goneril for her more traditionally masculine callousness, ambition, and cruelty.