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Shakespeare: King Lear

14. Act 3, Scenes 5-6: A Tale of Two Plots

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About this Lecture


In this module, we read through Act 3, Scenes 5-6, two short scenes in which we learn about two separate plots – one from against Goneril and Regan, and the other against Lear. In particular, we think about: (i) the theme of revenge (“I will have my revenge, ere I depart this house”, 1); (ii) the famous (if problematic) mock-trial; and (iii) Lear’s general mental state at this point in the play (“Trouble him not; his wits are gone”).


In this twenty-five part course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Shakespeare’s King Lear. We begin with a broad introduction to the historical, political and intellectual context of early 17th-century England. After that, we go through the play scene by scene, providing close reading and detailed analysis, with commentary on character, plot, themes and motifs, language, symbolism – and more.

We use the Arden (Third Series) edition of the play. Students using a different edition of the play may encounter slight differences in both the text and line numbers.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2019, February 26). Shakespeare: King Lear - Act 3, Scenes 5-6: A Tale of Two Plots [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Shakespeare: King Lear – Act 3, Scenes 5-6: A Tale of Two Plots." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Feb 2019,

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