King Lear. Act 4, Scene 3 Carrie Sartori. Summary. There are a few main points present in this scene that the reader must understand in order to gain a deeper understanding of the play. Lear has arrived safely in Dover. “Well, sir, the poor distressed Lear’s i’ th’ town…”
Act 4, Scene 3
“Well, sir, the poor distressed Lear’s i’ th’ town…”
Kent informs the gentleman about Lear’s whereabouts.
2. Cordelia has received the letters from Kent and shows great sorrow when she finds out how her sisters have been treating her father.
“Ay, sir; she took them, read them in my presence, and now and then an ample tear trilled down her delicate cheek; it seemed she was a queen over her passion; who, most rebel-like, sought to be king o’er her.”
The gentleman tells how he saw Cordelia shed a tear when she received the letters.
3. Lear is too ashamed to see Cordelia because of the way he has treated her.
“…Well, sir, the poor distressed Lear’s i’ th’ town; … and by no means will yield to see his daughter. A sovereign shame so elbows him: his own unkindness, that stripped her from his benediction, turned her to foreign casualties, gave her dear rights to his dog-hearted daughters: these things sting his mind so venomously that burning shame detains him from Cordelia.”
“And now and then an ample tear trilled down
Her delicate cheek; it seemed she was a queen
Over her passion; who, most rebel-like,
Sought to be king o’er her.”
Translation: Every now and then a large tear trickled down her soft cheek. She governed her emotions like a queen; they, like rebels, tried to play the superior role of king.
Shakespeare’s use of simile through this quotation also acts as a way to show the characterization of Cordelia and how she tried to remain in control of her emotions “like a queen” but her tears, “like rebels” were more powerful than her.
“Once or twice she heaved the name of ‘father’
Patingly forth, as if it pressed her heart;
Cried ‘Sisters! Sisters! Shame of ladies! Sisters!
Kent! Father! Sisters! What, i’ th’ storm! i th’ night?
Let pity not believe it!’ There she shook
The holy water from her heavenly eyes,
And clamour moistened, then away she started
To deal with grief alone.”
There are multiple literary elements that contain significance in this quote.
Foreshadowing is shown through this quote because Cordelia is angry with her sister’s behavior and also the mention of a storm hints to the war that will go on between the girls later.
Secondly, Shakespeare’s use of language as he describes Cordelia’s tears as “holy water from her heavenly eyes” is significant because Shakespeare does not just include religious references on a regular basiss. This hints to the reader that Cordelia is a very innocent and respectable character in the play.
“The stars above us, govern our conditions;
Else one self mate and make could not beget
Such different issues.”
Translation: It’s the stars, the stars above us, who decide our characters! Otherwise parents couldn’t beget such different children.
This use of language is significant because it characterizes Kent as once again, a voice of reason in the play and also gives the reader an overpowering sense that fate is inevitable.