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Shakespeare: King Lear

18. Act 4, Scenes 3-5: Battle Preparations

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About this Lecture


In this module, we read through Act 4, Scenes 3-5, three short scenes which show us the preparations for battle between Cordelia and her sisters. In particular, we think about: (i) Kent’s thoughts on why brothers and sisters can turn out so differently from one another (“The stars above us govern our conditions”, 4.3.34); (ii) Cordelia’s description of her father, who is now clothed only in flowers (“Crowned with rank fumiter and furrow-weeds, | With burdocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo-flowers”, 4.4.3-4); and (iii) the relationship between Edmund and Regan.


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 4, Scenes 3-5: Battle Preparations [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Shakespeare: King Lear – Act 4, Scenes 3-5: Battle Preparations." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Feb 2019,

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