Events leading up to Act 2, Scene 3

In Great Britain, King Lear decides to divide up the country between his three daughters based upon how much they love him; The daughter that flatters him the most gets a larger share of the kingdom. The two oldest, Goneril and Regan, both flatter him with praise and are rewarded generously with land. Lear's youngest and most favored daughter, Cordelia, refuses to flatter her father, going only so far as to say that she loves him as much as a daughter should, "no more no less." Lear, expecting the best praises from his most loved daughter, is enraged by this, and thus gives her nothing and banishes her from his lands. The Earl of Kent runs quickly to Cordelia's defense, pleading Lear to open his eyes and see clearly. However, Lear refuses and banishes Kent for acting traitorously by supporting Cordelia. Cordelia ends up marrying the King of France, and Kent disguises himself as a servant. He remains close to Lear to protect the king from Goneril and Regan who have deceived their father in order to obtain the throne.

Since he has given away his kingdom to his two daughters, Lear intends to spend the rest of his days traveling and living with them a month at a time. He arrives at the Goneril's home, accompanied by a army of 100 seasoned knights. He expects to remain in authority. However, since he has given away his power and revenue, how can he accomplish such as task? Goneril takes this opportunity to disown her father. She also instructs Oswald to degrade him as well.

Lear storms angrily out of Goneril's home, planning next to travel to Regan's house. He sends the disguised Kent to Regan to announce his impending visit. Goneril on the other hand sends her steward Oswald to warn her sister of their fatherís approach. Along the road near Gloucesterís estate, Kent and Oswald meet. Kent attacks Oswald, but Cornwall and Regan break up the fight, after which Kent is put in the stocks. King Lear arrives and finds Kent shackled in stocks. He demands that Kent be released, but is refused. Thereafter, Regan and Cornwall refuses to see Lear, further enraging him. After a short while, they allow him to enter their home. Oswald and Goneril arrive, and Lear becomes enraged at their entrance. Together, the two evil daughters demand Lear to disband his troops. This goes back and forth, each one taking turns in mocking their father. Lear then is locked out of Regan's home as water pours out of the sky, a vicious storm which leads us into Act 3, Scene 2.