Cornwall is the husband of Lear’s second daughter, Regan, and becomes ruler of half of England when Lear passes on the government of the realm to his daughters and their husbands.
He is a hard, hot-tempered man, who will not be pushed around and whom Lear does not overly like. He takes Edmund under his wing, and names him Earl of Gloucester in his father’s place the moment Edmund tells him of Gloucester’s hidden letter, without waiting to find out whether the letter’s contents are true or not. Though he attempts to restrain himself for some time when speaking to a servant of Lear’s, his patience has evident limits and he has no qualms about placing the man in the stocks. He mostly allows his wife to deal with the King, and supports her fully, ordering Gloucester to lock the doors of his house against Lear. When Gloucester attempts to plead for Lear, Cornwall officially takes over his house. Cornwall does not like his brother-in-law Albany, nor agree with him politically, though he requires his help to deal with the French invasion. An excellent interrogator, well in tune with his wife, he is quickly able with her help to force Gloucester to admit his feelings about their actions. He is cruel enough to take Goneril’s suggestion about Gloucester’s eyes, and plucks them out, though in the fight with the servant who objects he receives a mortal wound. He is well-matched to Regan.