King Lear Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

King Lear book cover
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What is the plot summary for King Lear? Describe the exposition, the rising action, the climax, and the falling action.

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King Lear is the aged ruler of ancient Britain. He decides to carve his kingdom into three portions and to award these portions based on which of his daughters best professes her love to him. His most loving and beloved daughter, Cordelia, refuses to play along and is exiled. His deceptive and unloving daughters, Goneril and Regan, thus inherit the kingdom but promptly show their ingratitude.

The rising action occurs as the two evil sisters treat Lear harshly. This causes him to feel a madness falling upon him and eventually leads to him running out into a storm with only an old servant, Kent, and his fool.

If one sees the play in humanistic terms, the climax could occur in the storm when Lear begins to realize his shared humanity with "the poor naked wretches" over whom he had taken too little care over when he was king. Stripped of everything kingly about him, he finds his humanity. Even in his...

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