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How does Shakespeare present Lear's increasing lack of power and authority up to and including Act 1, scene 4.

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Introduction

´╗┐How does shakespeare present Lear?s increasing lack of power and authority up to and including the scenes we?ve read so far? We see in the opening scenes of King Lear that Lear is the character that carries the most authority and power, however he also begins to rapidly lose these traits throughout the play. This drastic change in Lear's life is portrayed by Shakespeare very effectively through change in different characters attitude and language, and symbolic events such as servants defying Lear and taking orders from his daughter instead. The quote ?Come not between the dragon and his wrath? displays his power and authority through forceful language at the beginning of the play. It's evident he is aware of his power as he compares himself to a powerful beast. It portrays how he delivers demands without hesitation as he knows his servants and knights will tend to his every need. Lear?s first line of the play is a demand to Gloucester to ?Attend the lords of France and Burgundy?, a demand Gloucester immediately. Again this presents Lear?s power and authority. ...read more.

Middle

We see a fading in Lear?s power over others when, in the very few lines spoken between Gonerill and Oswald in act one scene three Gonerill says ?I?ll not endure it?, while speaking about her father?s behavior. In the fourth scene, Lear begins to question his power and authority as his servants are not tending to his demands, ?Where?s my knave? my fool??. When one of Lear?s loyal knights bring to Lear?s attention that he?s being wronged, Lear says ?I have perceived a most faint neglect of late,? thus signifying his awareness that he?s slowly, but surely, losing his authority. Further into scene four, Lear?s loss of power and authority is demonstrated by the way in which Oswald addresses him. While Lear asks the question ?who am I?? Oswald replies with ?My lady?s father?, causing the King to become appalled by the lack of respect. Oswald then continues his rudeness by answering back and showing lack of respect towards Lear. Shakespeare presents Lear?s loss of authority through his daughters? sudden ability to control him. ...read more.

Conclusion

Lear rightly views his loss of attendants as an indication of his ungrateful daughters? lack of respect for him and his ranking as The King. As an audience, during the first act we see the loss of Lear?s power through the disobedience of other characters. In handing over his kingdom to his two daughters, we soon discover that in doing so he also handed over the respect others have for him, his formal authority as King and the role of being a father. What we see by the end of Act 1 is that Lear no longer has the power to command anyone to do anything, even to provide him with shelter or food - his daughters, each of whom is now Queen over half of Britain, carry special authority over him. The loss of power is vast resulting in a complete role reversal compared to the beginning of the play, and although the loss of power and authority is evident to the audience and the characters around Lear, he himself is blind to what?s happening until it?s too late and he?s lost everything. ...read more.

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