• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Analysis of chapter 1

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Mrs. Pennington Act 1 King Lear Overview The kingdom's division as referred to by Kent and Gloucester is strange in that it is not mentioned in the context of Lear's daughters. The seeming chance this sheds on Lear's given love test provides a contrast through which to view the misplaced importance Lear is placing on words, appearance, and position. We will soon learn that Kent and Gloucester are two of the only men who could provide Lear with sound and sincere advice, therefore giving their original take of the situation with a greater significance. They have no problem with Lear's decision to divide the kingdom as he is old and is attempting to escape greater conflict after his death. Therefore Kent's revolt against Lear's actions arises not from Lear's initial undertaking but from his reaction to Cordelia. Notice too that he does not protest when Lear asks for a competition for love from his daughters or when Goneril and Regan respond in arguably patronizing, superficial words. He only strikes against Lear's rule when Lear does not notice the honesty of Cordelia's words and then moves to strip her of his love and titles. This is not only foolish but hurtful and unjust. The love test was foolish but, on the surface, harmed little. Yet, Goneril and Regan knew that it was unlikely that their sister would not compete against them if they were extravagant and appealing enough in their claims of love toward their Father. ...read more.

Middle

Suspension of disbelief must be acted on a level as many readers are moved to question Lear's decision making and early blindness toward truth. Lear has started to regress toward dementia and old age. We know by Kent and Gloucester's loyalty toward him, that he had once been more reasonable. Lear committed a fatal and selfish human error which cannot be mended without the journey and transformation he must undergo. Blindness is one of the most frequently employed metaphors in King Lear. Blindness will become a physical problem for Gloucester later in the play, but its weight is used to foreshadow and heighten this development. Lear is blind to his two oldest daughters from the first moment we meet him. However, unlike the implication that he was once a more noble man since he has the support of the sub characters, Kent and Gloucester, we are not given the impression that he ever knew well enough to previously suspect Goneril or Regan of dishonesty. They have obviously shown their true colors at some point before though since Cordelia responds in such a manner to alert us that she will not sink as low as her sisters will. For instance, she comments, "A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue that I am glad I have not, though not to have it hath lost me in your liking" (Line 231-233). Therefore, although Lear has obviously favored Cordelia, he has been blind to the ungratefulness of his two other daughters and is foolish enough to trust them with his livelihood after more foolishly disinheriting Cordelia and exiling Kent. ...read more.

Conclusion

This reflection of plot, for which the seeds are planted in Act I, magnifies the horrors of the tragedy. In this manner, blindness is one of the main symbolic and physical elements through which Shakespeare describes the horrors of ingratitude, insincerity, and hypocrisy. Goneril is represented to the audience as one of the most evil participants in the crimes taking place. This character description is illustrated through the contrast Shakespeare establishes between her and her husband. Here, Goneril also yearns for power but does not feel the need to aim indirectly for it. Albany is basically told to stay out of her way as he is too weak to know what is best. She places more trust in her servant Oswald, it seems, as she sends him off to run her important letter to Regan whereas she pushes Albany off to the side. She manipulates how her sister will act and the manner in which they will strip Lear of his property and authority. The stories she creates of Lear's riotous knights and so on are supported by nothing in Shakespeare's text. The characters in Lear's train who speak to him are well behaved, polite, and honorable. They try to protect him and Lear himself is shown well when he places the blame for Goneril's coldness on himself instead of her and her household. Therefore we exit the first Act with the knowledge of Cordelia's goodness, Lear's previous goodness and impending madness, Fool's truth telling, Edmund's plotting, and Goneril's evil. ?? ?? ?? ?? Greg Neale L6st ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level King Lear section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level King Lear essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    King Lear. The seeds of tragedy are sewn in Act 1 scene 1. To ...

    3 star(s)

    From this angle it seems that Lear has less to fall, as he is already at a stage were he regrets life. This is different to many of Shakespeare's other plays such as Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello where the protagonists begin in a high emotional position, so have more to lose and therefore further to fall.

  2. Explore the presentation of Edmund in 'King Lear'

    He wants to stir things up so that he can improvise his way to a better position, which for him means attain more power and prestige. As he says, "Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit;/ All with me's meet that I can fashion fit".

  1. Edmund's soliloquy in Act 1 scene ii reveals his plot to supplant and gain ...

    Then Edgar was abused' (act 3, 7, 89), 'I stumbled when I saw' (act 4,1 19). Due to this, Gloucester is a physical embodiment of the theme of blindness to awareness. In his soliloquy, Edmund also establishes the theme of family, which is closely linked with both the theme of nature and the theme of blindness.

  2. With particular reference to Act 1, Scene 1, show how Shakespeare presents the character ...

    This would appear different to different audiences. To a contemporary audience this would be seen as very foolish, as in Elizabethan times Kings were believed to have been chosen by God, and by taking his position as King and splitting it up between his daughters, Lear is tampering with the Great Chain of Being, and is going against God.

  1. King Lear, Femininity and Female Disorder

    Goneril refuses to accommodateLear's one hundred knights for she fears that the palace be degraded to a "brothel"(Act I, Scene IV,L. 237. This opinion is loaded with irony since she prostitutes herself for power and later for her paramour, Edmund.

  2. Explore the ways in which Shakespeare presents the characters of Goneril, Regan and Cordelia ...

    tells her father "since what I well intend, I do't before I speak". Once again through what Cordelia says the audience is led to distrust the nature of her sisters' declarations " If for I want that glib and oily art, to speak and purpose not."

  1. Explore the ways in which Shakespeare presents the characters of Edmund and Edgar in ...

    By giving Edgar a short, unpunctuated sentence Shakespeare creates several effects. The short sentence shows that Edgar does not know what to think, he is shocked and has very little to say. Shakespeare presents him as rash by giving the sentence no punctuation.

  2. How does Shakespeare create a sense of unease in Act 1 Scene 1 of ...

    The discussion and debate upon who shall ?claim? Cordelia creates the effect that Cordelia is a powerless, almost insignificant object scrutinised prior to being ?owned? by a man. The fact that the 3 men are discussing the value of land and wealth over the essence of relationships and love also

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work