Planning to will the largest portion of his kingdom to the daughter who can articulate her filial love most effectively, King Lear is furious when his youngest of three daughters, the unwed Cordelia, simply states "I cannot heave my heart into my mouth." As the elder sisters, Regan and Goneril, each flaunted their love with exuberant metaphors, Lear resolves to divide his kingdom between them, disinheriting Cordelia. Worried that their father has gone mad, and fearful such a descent might hold consequences to their inheritances, Regan and Goneril decide to exert their newfound authority by rebuking their father when he attempts to enter their territories. A mocking Fool who travels with Lear underscores Lear's lack of scruples in prematurely yielding his power. With nowhere to go, Lear finds himself alone as a storm rages; a crown of wildflowers poignantly emphasizes Lear's loss of power, and the disintegration of his sanity. As Lear goes increasingly mad in his wanderings, Regan and Goneril turn against one another, beginning a deadly cycle of destruction to both the family and the kingdom. Performed at King James's court on the day after Christmas--a festival day--the play was understood as a celebration of the restoration of peace to England, which was poised on the verge of civil war before the peaceful accession of King James. Written between 1603 and 1606, KING LEAR was probably influenced by an earlier anonymous version of the plot, performed in Shakespeare's day as KING LEIR. Richard Burbage was the original Lear in Shakespeare's debut, which was staged before the Court of King James.