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ACT IV, Scene 5

Goneril and Regan have become adversaries, both scheming to win
Edmund's love. Goneril sends a letter to Edmund through her
trusted servant, Oswald. Upon reaching Gloucester Castle, Oswald
is met by Regan, who tries to persuade him to reveal the contents
of Goneril's letter. When he refuses, their conversation turns to the
state of affairs in England. He tells her that Albany is quite
reluctant to take up arms against the French army. Goneril tells
Oswald that Gloucester is turning people against them and that his
being alive has brought unnecessary problems. Edmund has,
therefore, gone to kill his father.

Regan again tries to get Goneril's letter from Oswald, but he
refuses. Regan then confides that she is to wed Edmund. He has
supposedly decided that Regan is the better match for him, since
she is a widow. She asks Oswald to convey this news to Goneril
and to convince her to act wisely. What Regan does not know is
that Goneril has planned to kill Albany, becoming a widow herself;
she will then be free to wed Edmund. The two evil sisters are vying
to outdo each other in their wickedness.


It is not surprising that the two evil sisters have turned against one
another, for neither knows the meaning of loyalty. Desperate to
have the love of Edmund, Regan has planned the murder of her
husband, Albany; his death will make her a widow and free her to
marry Edmund. But according to Goneril, the two-faced, amoral
Edmund has already pledged himself to marry Goneril, even
though he has told Regan that he loved her. By creating this sibling
rivalry, Shakespeare further complicates an already complex plot.