• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Shakespeare establish the major conflicts of the play in the first two scenes of the play, ‘King Lear’?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How does Shakespeare establish the major conflicts of the play in the first two scenes of the play, 'King Lear'? The first two scenes of Shakespeare's' 'King Lear' establishes the two major conflicts which forms the main plot, and the other, smaller, less featured conflicts which forms the basis for the sub-plot. When analysing how these conflicts are formed, one must look at the situation of the characters, the language and tone used, the atmosphere created and what kind of conflicts they are, such as the typical 'good versus evil.' The main plot features the conflict between King Lear and his two eldest daughters, Gonerill and Regan, precipitated by the division of his Kingdom. Act 1, Scene one opens with an exchange between Kent and Gloucester, immediately thus introducing the main plot of Lear's division of the Kingdom, and the conflicts which arise as a result. "I thought the King had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall" King Lear then makes his entrance and immediately announces his plans to divide the Kingdom between his three daughters and their respective partners. Lear has already decided to split the Kingdom equally but for perhaps egotistical, vain reasons, he wants his daughters to declare their love for him in order for him to decide who should obtain the biggest share. ...read more.

Middle

The second scene introduces the sub-plot of the illegitimate Edmund, (referred to as the bastard) plotting against his father and brother, Gloucester and Edgar. The first scene introduces the characters of Gloucester and Edgar, who initially appears as a very polite, pleasant and courteous character. Despite Gloucester's derogatory and somewhat cruel references to him, such as a 'whoreson', and his introducing him to Kent as his illegitimate child, Edmund is respectful to both his father and Kent. It becomes evident that it is perhaps this appalling treatment at the hands of his father that contributes to Edmund's desire to plot against him and his legitimate brother, Edgar. "there was good sport at his making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged." Act 1, Scene 2 opens with a soliloquy by Edmund revealing the true nature of his character to the audience, with the revelation that he is planning to 'if not by birth, have lands by wit'. Edmund's soliloquy is quite shocking as the audience's first impression of him is that he is a very pleasant character, but his revelations in the second scene reveal his seemingly apparent Machiavellian nature. There is evidently a lot of tension and jealously between Edmund, and his legitimate brother, Edgar. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, although this conflict is not really established or explored in the first two scenes of the play, Shakespeare cleverly and subtly implies and suggests that King Lear is showing signs of madness. When Lear is mad. What wouldst thou do, old man? Kent is Lear's most trusted and loyal aide, and his interruption when the King becomes angry at Cordelia is insulting towards Lear, suggesting not only that Kent feels very strongly, but that he also fears Lear is showing signs of madness due to his age, as he is in his eighties. Gonerill and Regan also detect that Lear is showing signs of madness due to his seemingly rash act of banishing both Cordelia, his favourite daughter, and his most trusted and loyal aide, Kent from the Kingdom. Gonerill: You see how full of changes his age is...He always loved our sister most. Regan: 'Tis the infirmity of his age. Yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself. Gonerill and Regan are concerned by Lear's irrational and unpredictable behaviour and view a certain element of danger in the sense that they are unsure of what actions Lear is capable of, and thus Lear's insanity becomes a major theme later on as the play progresses. The last conflict which is explored in the first two scenes of the play is the concept of man versus nature which is made reference to throughout the duration of the play. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE 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 GCSE King Lear essays

  1. In what ways does the sub-plot mirror the main plot?

    Although in King Lear the two tragic characters, a king and an earl, are not ordinary men. To have a man who is conspicuous and endures suffering brought about because of his own error is striking. The fear aroused for this man is of great importance because of his exalted position.

  2. 'Explore the ways in which Shakespeare Creates sympathy for Lear in the play 'King ...

    in turn Lear's, superficiality, as Gloucester is a parallel of Lear so and flaws of Gloucester appear in Lear. So Gloucester's depraved description of Edmund in relation to how quickly he changes his opinion of his sons is a reflection on Lear's own irrationality when he so readily turned against

  1. King Learis 'a Christian play about a pagan world'. Discuss

    One form of this is the repetition of reference and request to the gods as disciplinary beings. Critics have commented particularly on the similarity of Lear's sufferings to those experienced by Job in the Bible. There are also some quotes that have biblical connotations such as Coredlia's, 'O dear father It is thy business that I go about'.

  2. Discuss Shakespeare's treatment of madness in "King Lear".

    Lear is enraged by the imprisonment of Kent in the stocks. The imprisonment of Kent unnerves the King. "They could not, would not do't: 'tis worse than murther" (Act 2 Scene 2, Lear) Lear, at this point in the play is now reduced to carrying out his own requests and goes in search of Regan.

  1. I am a man more sinned against than sinning King Lear was written ...

    'There's a great abatement of kindness appears as well in the general dependants as In the duke himself also, and your daughter'. Then we see Oswald showing disrespect and treating the king like a normal peasant. Lear: 'You, your sirrah where's my daughter' Oswald: 'So please you-' Then when Lear

  2. Explore the Ways in Which Shakespeare Presents the Character of King Lear.

    builds our sympathies for Lear - he refers to Regan as 'dearest Regan', which implies some affection for his daughter, and his gift of a third of the kingdom to each of his daughters is an alarming, but undeniably generous gift.

  1. Character Analyses - King Lear

    his king, and with that job now ended, he anticipates his own death. Character Analyses Edmund Gloucester's younger illegitimate son is an opportunist, whose ambitions lead him to form a union with Goneril and Regan. The injustice of Edmund's situation fails to justify his subsequent actions.

  2. A Consideration of the way Shakespeare presents and develops the theme of blindness in ...

    In the line, 'I have no way, and therefore want no eyes; I stumbled when I saw.' Gloucester highlights the play's central paradox, which does not refer to physical sight, but rather to self-knowledge, understanding, and acceptance of others. Through his suffering, Gloucester gains heroic status, and because of his

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