• 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)

    give away his Kingdome and undergo the tragic events in order for him understand himself. Paul Scofield, in Peter Brooks' version of 'King Lear', presents Lear as a more dominant and less vulnerable character in the first scene. The close-up camera shot causes the audience to feel that Lear is of great importance.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    The influence Act 1 has on the rest of the play in King Lear

    3 star(s)

    This makes a very bold statement that Lear is blind, in this case a mental flaw, to the truth and his daughter's love, which is rather ironic as it also shows his lack of judgement as a King, and his inability to make good decisions, which in turn lead to a series of unfortunate events.

  1. 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".

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

    Therefore, to a contemporary audience, this event is straight away building up the tension. However, a modern audience may not understand this, and it could, to them, seem that at this moment Lear is being neither a blind fool nor a tragic father.

  1. Explore the ways in which Shakespeare presents the characters Goneril Regan and Cordilia in ...

    'By day and night he wrongs me' claims Goneril. She (who has Lear living with her at that point) becomes increasingly irritated by Lear's boisterous knights and acquaintances. By making her father feel unwelcome, she can force him to reduce his retinue, here Shakespeare presents a very clever and conniving character.

  2. Social injustices in King Lear

    He also condemns the laws as he says 'Unaccom-/modated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal' when he says 'Unaccom-/modated man' he refers to the people who have lived with the injustices as he is, describing their social position in the hierarchy being equivalent to animals.

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

    It is this type of vagueness in the sisters? exchange that raises questions about what the actions of the three sisters will be further on in the play. Regan and Goneril?s plot against their father at the culmination of the scene introduces the audience to the deviousness and evil of Goneril and Regan.

  2. The Nature of Redemption and the Limits of Pessimism in King Lear

    has overcome his earthly burdens, but rather one who has succumbed to them. Moreover, Stampfer correctly sees that the ?repeated cries of ?Never!? [5.3.310] are the steady hammering of truth on a mind unable to endure it? (Stampfer, 150). Unable to bear the weight of the world any longer, Lear

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