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Analysing the Introduction of King Lear's Character in Act 1of 'King Lear'

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Analysing the Introduction of King Lear's Character in Act 1of 'King Lear' King Lear's character is introduced as the foolhardy tragic hero doomed by his own irrationality. He is consistently portrayed as short-sighted and immature, bound by his own shortfalls as he intertwines himself in superficial love triangles. The play commences in King Lear's palace where two chief characters are discussing Lear dividing out his kingdom amongst his most favoured son-in-law. This hints Lear's nature yet we are not exposed to his character until Kent and Gloucester have finished conversing. This arouses reader curiosity and interest. Lear arrives soon after and we discover how he has no qualms about operating using the royal 'we' as he launches straight into talk of sharing his kingdom. He appears as blunt and informal in terms of his attitude. He prolongs this manner as he expresses to his daughters how he wishes to "Unburdened crawl toward death". This indicates Lear's immature wish to revert to babyhood by the employment of the word "crawl" after his transition, while discarding his adult responsibilities and vexations. ...read more.


This could prompt us to believe him to live in an ideal, imaginary world - to non-believers - which could be granted a personal utopia as things which incense him from blunt reality can be taken care of with aid. Lear continues to emit enraged declarations and when interrupted by Kent proclaims to him, "Come not between the dragon and his wrath" speaking of his regard to Cordelia using bestial imagery while using a fictitious creature, synonymous for power and might. Therefore explicitly voicing his fury without being disillusioned, continually presenting his petulance. Later when exciting his materialism, and effectively auctioning Cordelia off, he states how "...Her price is fallen" testimony to his measurement in terms of wealth and goods. A caesura subdivides the sentence as so signify his mercenary behaviour. However, Lear is eventually presented as foolish now through the characters. France is in shock belief at the treatment towards his proposed wife with the use of "she herself is a dowry". He communicates through Lear's own language turning it back on him in bemusement. Consequently, he tells Cordelia "My love should kindle to inflamed respect" This imagery matches Lear's impetuosity and vehemence as France speaks of the passionate admiration that evolved through Cordelia's mild assertion of herself, cornering Lear's principles clearly demonstrating the error Lear induced. ...read more.


The fool soon arrives, speaking the truth in riddles mocking King Lear, shaming him as he indifferently responds. For example: He that keeps nor crust nor crumb, Weary of all, shall want some This brings to light Lear's inconsistent behaviour as he sees Lear will regret it in time to come and see the error of his ways by which time it will be too late. The Fool speaks of the simplest means with "crust nor crumb" displaying Lear rejecting the entirety of his wealth away and "weary of all" implies how Lear will discover the gravity of the situation and will be utterly devastated. Again, Lear's masculinity is challenged, as Lear proclaims how his "thankless child" has made him "ashamed...thou hast power to shake (his) manhood". This incorporates Lear into the reality the other characters appear to be living. He is aware his daughters are now in control, altering the patriarchal system he believed would prevail. He has been awoken to the deceit around him as the act ends. It ostentatiously closes with Lear riled up with his somewhat new-found energy and a new perspective which we as a reader are optimistic will be dealt with more critically in the next few acts. Mariella de Souza :) 12EAS. ...read more.

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