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King Lear: Act I Scene IV

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Discuss your response to Lear in Act I Scene IV Role reversal is central to the plot of King Lear, and perhaps one of the most pivotal scenes which stresses role reversal has truly occurred is Act I Scene IV. Following both the foolish division of Lear's land and the utter destruction of natural order, King Lear begins to realise his 'power' has been stripped and even those below him begin to realise this and treat him accordingly. The act welcomes a disguised Kent who still wishes to serve his King despite Lear's earlier mistreatment towards him. Act I Scene IV also introduces the Fool which has been mentioned to have been in hiding since Cordelia's banishment. The jester begins to commentate on Lear's illogical decisions and the consequences of them while Lear infuriates at the fact that he is receiving little, or no respect from those around him. Firstly, Lear close to the beginning of the scene realises he has been mistreated as a King and as a father. There seems to be a kind of unnatural theme running throughout the play heretofore and it continues in Act I Scene IV. ...read more.


A knight talks about 'judgement' while Kent describes Lear 'poor'. Everyone around Lear can see clearly, and relighting the theme of blindness to the truth, the only character to ignore any form of truth is the protagonist: Lear. The fact that such a close and loyal friend of Lear would call him 'poor' is also of upmost importance as it raises the question: What made Lear rich prior to his foolish division of the land? Was it money, love from his daughters, or respect? Either way, Lear is hastily losing all three as his mental state is portrayed to be decaying. The fool then makes his first appearance in the play where he immediately begins to comment on Lear's wrong doings. Ironically, the fool is easily able to foil Lear as he appears to hold superior judgement and logic over blind Lear. The first line of the fool signifies the fool acknowledges Lear has made mistakes as the fool offers Lear his 'coxcomb', indicating that the fool has realised that the true title of fool is now Lear's as he has made terrible decisions as a consequence of lack of judgement. ...read more.


This amounts to another outburst of rage where Lear calls his daughter a treacherous 'bastard' and voices that he without delay will leave to find hospitality with Regan. This reintroduces the angry persona of Lear, seen previously in Act I Scene I where Cordelia was the victim of his wrath and curses. Lear prays to the Gods to 'dry up' her 'organs of increase', essentially wishing his future blood and grandchild dead, where the audience are shocked to see Lear befall his own daughter. These irrational thoughts, however, do suggest a scarred father and a hurt father which again builds up the idea of a vulnerable Lear. The ending of this scene brings an ominous feel to the play as it seems anarchy is evolving in a flash with a nihilistic society emerging as the divine king is left powerless and helpless. Subsequently, this ultimately leaves an idea of uncertainty amongst the audience as the audience begin to question the future of the play. The ending of this scene portrays a weak, isolated and a lone Lear. ?? ?? ?? ?? Work by c. kyriacou ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

An essay such as this which focuses on just one scene requires a more thorough approach. Here the writer picks on fairly random lines and ignores significant chunks of text particularly at the beginning and end of the scene. Although not every part of a scene can be dealt with in equal depth, there should be a greater sense of how the scene develops.
Also, the question asks for a 'response' to Lear. There is evidence of a response here and the writer knows that there should be comment on the linguistic and dramatic effects which shape response. However, the comments made are imprecise and vague. So not much analytical rigour here, but just about enough evidence of response to merit ***.

Marked by teacher Val Shore 26/09/2012

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