ACT IV – Scene.vii
(A tent in the French camp)
Kent reveals his true identity to Cordelia, who expresses her thanks to him
for the assistance he has given to her father. Kent will continue to play the part of Caius as he has still work to do.
Cordelia’s physician advises that the King has slept long and when he is
roused it will be to the tune of healing music.
Lear is brought in carried on a chair and Cordelia tenderly kisses him. They are reconciled. At first Lear thinks that Cordelia is an angel who has rescued him from purgatory. He soon regains his senses and humbly pleads for his daughter’s forgiveness. Cordelia confirms that he is still in his own country and not in France. The physician exits with Lear for he is still not fully restored.
Cordelia and Kent learn that Edmund is now in command of Cornwall’s army and
there is a rumor abroad that both Edgar and Kent have fled to Germany. Kent states that no time must be lost as the battle is imminent.
We are not clear why Kent intends to maintain his disguise, but he felt it
necessary to reveal his true identity to Cordelia. We can guess that Kent views this time as the climax of his long years of service to the King and his country.
Since the King’s rescue, he has spent much of his time sleeping and
recovering from his ordeal.
It takes a while for him to return to full consciousness and he mistakes Cordelia for an angel. Shakespeare is reinforcing the idea that Cordelia represents the height of feminine virtue and honesty. There are again further indications regarding Lear’s transformation. His dialogue with Cordelia makes no mention of status or tests of love, but is merely a father being reunited with his daughter. This scene contrasts greatly from the corresponding scene in Act I where father dismissed daughter. We read Lear’s statement to Cordelia, “Do not laugh at me; for, as I am a man, I think this lady to be my child Cordelia.” This confirms that Lear has regained his sanity. We learn that Lear’s return from a deep sleep was accompanied by soothing music. Symbolically this replaces the crashing storm that he fought with on the heath, which symbolized his own state of mind and the evil of his older daughters. The music underlines the return of order to Lear’s world.
Cordelia is clearly at the far end of the scale from her two sisters, for
there is no indication that she desires revenge for what her father has suffered.