Act I, Scene 1: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Explain briefly why King Lear has called his family together in the first scene.

2. Which characters are involved in the subplot of the story?

3. Name one of the major themes of the play.

4. At what period in history does the play take place?

5. Why does Kent defend Cordelia when her father banishes her?

6. Why does the Duke of Burgundy reject the offer of Cordelia’s hand in marriage?

7. Who are the Duke of Albany and the Duke of Cornwall?

8. Who eventually marries Lear’s dowerless daughter? Where will she live after her marriage?

9. What advice does Cordelia give to her sisters as she leaves with the King of France?

10. What do Goneril and Regan do as soon as everyone is gone and they are alone together?

Answers
1. King Lear calls his family together in order to divide his kingdom among his three daughters.

2. Gloucester and his illegitimate son Edmund and his legitimate son Edgar are the characters involved in the subplot.

3. A major theme of the play is appearance versus reality. King Lear is more impressed with his older daughters’ flowery speeches of love than Cordelia’s sincere response.

4. The play supposedly takes place in pre-Christian Britain but exhibits many sixteenth-century values.

5. Kent defends Cordelia because he feels it is his duty to keep the King from making a “rash” decision.

6. The Duke of Burgundy will not accept Cordelia because she has no dowry to bring into the marriage.

7. The Duke of Albany is Goneril’s husband, and the Duke of Cornwall is Regan’s husband.

8. The King of France marries Cordelia in spite of her banishment and lack of a dowry. He will take her to France.

9. Cordelia asks her sisters to treat their father well.

10. Goneril and Regan immediately begin to plot ways in which to usurp the power of the King, their father.