Act I - Scene III

The Duke of Albany's Palace.

[Enter Goneril, and Oswald, her steward]

Did my father strike my gentleman for chiding of
his fool?
Yes, madam.
By day and night he wrongs me; every hour
He flashes into one gross crime or other,(5)
That sets us all at odds: I'll not endure it:
His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids us
On every trifle. When he returns from hunting,
I will not speak with him; say I am sick:
If you come slack of former services,(10)
You shall do well; the fault of it I'll answer.
He's coming, madam; I hear him.

[Horns within]

Put on what weary negligence you please,
You and your fellows; I'll have it come to question:
If he dislike it, let him to our sister,(15)
Whose mind and mine, I know, in that are one,
Not to be over-ruled. Idle old man,
That still would manage those authorities
That he hath given away! Now, by my life,
Old fools are babes again; and must be used(20)
With checks as flatteries,—when they are seen abused.
Remember what I tell you.
Well, madam.
And let his knights have colder looks among you;
What grows of it, no matter; advise your fellows so:(25)
I would breed from hence occasions, and I shall,
That I may speak: I'll write straight to my sister,
To hold my very course. Prepare for dinner.



  1. Contrary to how she expressed her feelings in scene one, Goneril has become increasingly frustrated with Lear to the point of showing a complete lack of sympathy or personal regard for him. With her new political power, she plans to subvert the power of the father-daughter relationship.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. Lear’s behavior has markedly shifted from the first scene, in which he was depicted as an authoritative controller who managed the divestment of his land with care. Now that he has given up much of his land and power, Lear has become an agent of disorder, causing chaos in Goneril’s home.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. Old age and the treatment of the elderly by the young manifests as a theme throughout this tragedy. Goneril’s comments clarify the presentation of old age in King Lear, suggesting that old men become like infants in their old age instead of becoming wiser and more respected. Goneril uses this notion to justify her actions against her father. What’s more, the word “fools” implies that with age comes a loss of reason and rational control. Since fools and madness comprise a major theme in the play, pay attention to how madness relates to insight and how characters view their own and the actions of others.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. To avoid repeating the same scene at Regan’s home, Shakespeare makes it clear that Goneril’s feelings are shared by Regan. The emphasis on Goneril and Regan’s shared mindset allows Shakespeare to better maintain the pace of the play, and keep his viewers engaged.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. Goneril’s statement confirms the selfish qualities she expressed with Regan in scene i, in which they both made uncharitable comments on Lear’s age and state of mind. Considering Lear’s generosity with his land and power, Goneril’s actions and words reveal a highly opportunistic person, motivated by ambition rather than love.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  6. “Chiding” means “rebuking.” Goneril knows that scolding or punishing her father’s fool will anger him.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. Goneril intends to have all her household staff become slack and discourteous in their service to Lear and his knights. But Shakespeare chooses have Oswald represent all the others. He is a clever underling and understands immediately what she wants and why she wants it done. She can rely on him to impart her wishes to his "fellows." What Oswald understands is that his mistress wishes to make her father feel unwelcome so that he will leave of his own choosing, since she is pledged to provide for him and his followers for a full month and will have him back on her hands again after he has spent a month with her sister Regan. 

    — William Delaney
  8. Shakespeare did not want to have to stage a scene at Regan's home which would only amount to a reenactment of the quarrel between Lear and Goneril. So in several places, including here, Shakespeare shows that Goneril and Regan think and feel exactly alike with regard to their father. 

    — William Delaney
  9. It would have been difficult on an Elizabethan stage for Shakespeare to try to show Lear and his knights creating an uproar inside Goneril's home. So Shakespeare, with his characteristic ingenuity, has Lear and all 100 knights out hunting. The fact that Lear is out hunting on horseback with a hundred followers serves another purpose. It shows Goneril, as well as the audience, that Lear still has a lot of energy left in him and will probably be an unwelcome guest at both daughters' homes for perhaps as long as ten more years. 

    — William Delaney