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Lear, the king of Britain, decides to divide his kingdom among his three daughters, but first he demands that they say how much they love him. Out of the three daughters only Cordelia, his youngest, tells him that she has nothing to say about how much she loves her father. King Lear then becomes furious with Cordelia and disowns her. The Duke of Burgundy who previously wanted Cordelia as his wife, changes his mind as soon as Lear tells him that she is now without a dowry. The King of France, however still wants to marry her, and Cordelia leaves with him. When Lear’s servant Kent tries to tell his king that he made a mistake, Lear gets even more furious and banishes Kent from the kingdom. Lear then divides the kingdom between Regan and Goneril and says that he will live with the two by turns accompanied by a hundred of his knights.
Meanwhile, the Earl of Gloucester’s bastard son Edmund, who is jealous of Gloucester’s legitimate son Edgar, makes plans against his father and half-brother. Edmund tells Gloucester that Edgar wants to kill him. This forces Edgar to run away and disguise himself as Tom O’Bedlam.
Lear first goes to live with Goneril. She gets mad at her father and his knights and orders Oswald and the rest of her servants to be rude to Lear and his knights. After disguising himself, Kent returns and is accepted into the service of Lear. When Goneril finally meets with Lear, she tells him that she is tired of his knights quarreling and rioting and demands he gets rid of half of them. Lear becomes furious yet again and leaves to Regan, thinking that she will be more kind and welcoming. When Lear arrives at the castle he is angered when Regan and Cornwall refuse to see him. When Regan and Goneril finally see him, they say they won’t let him stay with them unless he gets rid of all his knights. Furious, Lear runs outside into a storm, and his two daughters shut him out of the castle.
Kent then goes out to search for Lear, and finds a gentleman who tells him that the king is close. Meanwhile, King Lear is raging on, and the Fool is trying to get him to return to his daughters and beg for shelter. When Kent finally finds Lear, the king is alone with the Fool. Kent then leads them to a nearby hovel for shelter, but Lear does not want to enter, and the Fool goes in alone. He doesn’t stay there for long and runs out with Tom O’Bedlam, who is really Edgar in disguise, chasing him. When Lear notices that Edgar is naked, he takes off his clothes as well. At this time Gloucester finds them, and tries to get the king to come to the castle with him. Lear says he will come, but only if he can bring Edgar along with him. He gives the group shelter in a hut outside his castle and urges Kent to take Lear to his daughter Cordelia. When Gloucester goes back to his castle, Cornwall and Regan blind him as punishment for helping out Lear.
After being kicked out of the gates, Gloucester is led by Edgar to Dover. In Dover Oswald tries to kill Gloucester, but Edgar steps in and kills Oswald. When Lear wakes up he sees Cordelia and asks for forgiveness, and she forgives him. Soon after, there is a battle between the French and British armies, and the French lose. As a result, Lear and Cordelia are captured, and are taken away to prison. Albany challenges Edmund, and names Edgar his champion. The two duel, and Edgar wins. After the duel Edgar reveals himself to Gloucester, who then dies. Edmund tells everyone that he ordered for Cordelia to be executed, and he too dies shortly after. Goneril poisons Regan, and then kills herself. Finally, Lear sees that Cordelia is also dead, and dies of grief.
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