ACT I – Scene.iii
(This scene takes place in the palace of Goneril and the Duke of Albany)
Goneril asks her steward, Oswald, if it is true that her father struck him
because he was ridiculing the King’s Fool.
Oswald confirms this, and the angry Goneril tells Oswald to be unhelpful when dealing with her father and his entourage. She indicates that if her father does not like this treatment, he should move and stay with Regan. Goneril instructs all her servants to treat the King’s company with coldness.
There is an indication at the end of Scene.i that Goneril will not stand for
any annoyance from her father, and this is now confirmed by her actions in this scene.
It should be borne in mind that the stewards of great households were
important people. They normally came from noble families and have much influence over their masters. This is reinforced by the fact that Goneril gives her steward permission to be rude to her father.
Again, we see an indication that nature has taken over from the normal rules
of family life. She shows no respect for her father. We note that she instructs her servants to show little hospitality to the King and his followers.
The King still regards himself as possessing all his authority, but his daughter views him as a Foolish old man and encourages her servants to do the same. The extent to which she is cruel and callous to her father comes as a surprise to the audience.
The plot is developing at speed, and again these short scenes emphasize the
pace of the action.
Reference is also made to the fact that Lear has been hunting, so although
his actions have been Foolish, he still has the ability to participate in the exacting chase of the hunt.