ACT V, Scene 1
The battle between England and France is about to begin. Regan
has made Edmund the general of her forces. As the scene opens
she speaks to Edmund about her love for him; but she also
questions him about Goneril. Edmund denies any interest in her
and professes undying love and loyalty to Regan. Regan still warns
him about the guile of her sister.
Albany and Goneril arrive with their army. Goneril, noticing the
rapport between Regan and Edmund, decides that she would rather
lose the battle than allow her sister to win Edmund. Albany
declares that his sole intention in the battle is to repel the invasion
of Britain. Edgar comes in and gives Albany the letter from
Goneril, written to Edmund; it is the one he had received from
Oswald. He leaves before Albany opens the letter. Edmund enters,
says that the battle is about to begin and asks for Albany's presence
on the battlefield. Albany exits, leaving Edmund alone on the
Edmund unfolds his evil plans in a soliloquy. If Goneril does not
first kill her husband, he plans to send Albany into battle, making
sure that he is killed there. He will also have the King and Cordelia
captured during the battle. His plan is to kill Lear and become the
King of England himself. He is unsure who should be his queen.
Having made advances to both Regan and Goneril, he knows they
are both enamored with him. He also knows if he marries one, it
will make the other very angry. If both sisters remain alive, his
difficulty will be great; therefore, he must soon choose and act.
Albany, now a representative of good, clearly states that his only
intention in battle is to repel the French invaders; his plan is to
make sure that Lear and Cordelia are protected. Edmund is a sharp
contrast to him. He shows himself to be an opportunistic, double-
dealing manipulator, who encourages both Goneril and Regan's
affections for him. As the sisters vie for his love, Edmund schemes
for his future. He wants to make sure that Albany is killed, either
by Goneril or in battle; he will also make certain that Lear is
captured and killed. Then by marrying one of the sisters, Edmund
plans to make himself King of England.
Edgar comes into the scene briefly to hand over to Albany the
letter that Goneril has written to Edmund. He does not wait for it to
be opened or read. Edgar, quickly departing, will next appear in the
final scene of the play as the defender of righteousness.