Act 5, Scene 1 Notes from King Lear

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King Lear Act 5, Scene 1

Edmund quickly sends a messenger to see what's going on with Albany's troops. Regan, meanwhile, tries to get him to assure her that he loves her alone and has no interest in her sister, Goneril. She is quite obviously jealous. Nonetheless, Edmund gives her his vow.

Yet Goneril is lusting for Edmund and his newly aquired power, too. She decides that stealing him from her sister is the most important thing--more important, even, than winning the battle.

Albany enters the scene, informing everyone that he plans to fight as a way of pushing off the French invaders, not as a way of betraying the king. The three villainous characters--Edmund, Regan and Goneril--are on his side.

About to leave, Regan ends the conversation by convincing Goneril to come into the tent so the two can talk.

Edgar returns, still dressed as a homeless man. He is prepared now to give Albany Goneril's double-crossing note. He hands it over. Yet before Albany is allowed to take a look at it, Edgar makes him swear to a promise. Edgar wants to be allowed to find a champion to prove the letter's honesty.

Edmund is alone on the stage at this point, and it becomes clear that he has promised his love to both Goneril and Regan. He is stuck between the two sisters, and almost hopes for one of them to die:

"To both these sisters have I sworn my love;
Each jealous of the other, as the stung
Are of the adder. Which of them shall I take?
Both? One? Neither? Neither can be enjoyed,
If both remain alive."
Act 5, Scene 1, lines 55-59

He'll see what happens in the battle, meaning if Goneril becomes a widow. Then, he'll decide between the two girls. He also mentions that he would kill Lear or Cordelia if either is captured.

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