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Tis the infirmity of his age; yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself(TM) (Act 1.1 290-291) Discuss the portrayal of King Lear(TM)s character in the first act of King Lear.

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Introduction

''Tis the infirmity of his age; yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself' (Act 1.1 290-291) Discuss the portrayal of King Lear's character in the first act of King Lear. 'King Lear' was written by the world-renowned English playwright William Shakespeare in the years 1604-1605. It is one of Shakespeare's most tragic plays where both good and evil characters suffer horribly and die grisly deaths. The play tells the story of an old King whose irrational behaviour leads to his downfall and his road to redemption. In the first act of the play King Lear is portrayed as an arrogant man who basks in his own self importance and expects only praise and assent from his peers. ...read more.

Middle

His choice to disown her and split the kingdom between the older two prove to be a foolhardy decision which leads to his fall from grace. The 'test' Lear gives his daughters displays a number of his character flaws. He is rash for making such an important decision without consulting anyone else beforehand and for determining the verdict so quickly. Lear is also vain in expecting unconditional and unrealistic love from his daughters, as well as being incapable of seeing through their deceit. His sanity and rashness are also debated by Goneril and Regan, the latter claiming that their father's hasty decision is due to his never really understanding his own emotions. Goneril goes a step further in saying that "the best and soundest of his time hath been but rash". All these flaws contribute to Lear's dismal collapse. ...read more.

Conclusion

At this time in the play Lear hasn't yet realised that both of his heiresses are doing their utmost to undermine his importance. In fact, he threatens Goneril that Regan will "will flay [Goneril's] wolvish visage" when she finds out how he has been treated by her sister. In admitting his mistake of judgment in believing Goneril, Lear begins his journey to redemption, albeit there's still a long way for him to go. The first act of 'King Lear' unravels Lear's initially superficial and despicable character as well his naivet�. Although he never makes a full recovery of his sanity and power, later on in the play Lear changes his values by learning from his mistakes and acknowledging his weaknesses resulting in him becoming a better and wiser person than ever before. 1 20/01/2009 ...read more.

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