King Lear

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"This fellow has banished two on’s daughters": Act 1, Scene 4


The reason the Fool tells Kent/Caius to take his fool’s cap is that “this fellow [Lear] has banished two on’s daughters, and did the third a blessing against his will.”

What does the Fool MOST LIKELY mean when he says that Lear has “banished” two of his daughters?


This is probably a misunderstanding on the Fool’s part; since he wasn’t there for the distribution of the kingdom in Scene I, he is working with second-hand information.


The Fool is simply stating here what he would have preferred to be the case; it is clear from the conversation that ensues that the Fool is not particularly fond of either Regan or Goneril.


By marrying them off to dukes of other provinces in the country (Albany and Cornwall respectively), Lear has practically – if not literally – “banished” both Goneril and Regan.


The Fool knows something that Kent does not, which is that Lear has decided to exile both Regan and Goneril; he just hasn’t put this decree into effect yet.


When the Fool uses the word “banished” here, he is referring more to an emotional estrangement than a physical one. The suggestion is that Lear’s abdication of power to Regan and Goneril has caused a breach between them that is tantamount to exile.