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

How does the first scene of king lear foreshadow the rest of the play?

Extracts from this document...


How does the first scene of King Lear foreshadow the themes and imagery of the rest of the play? Ben Alborough 10wd In Lear's very first scene, many of the play's basic themes and images are presented. The consistent imagery of eyesight and of "nothing," familial and social ties and the slow but gradual dissolution of Lear's kingship all make their first appearances in the first few lines of Shakespeare's play, as perfect examples of the foreshadowing of the rest of the book.* The idea that an otherwise powerful and politically strong monarch could simply forfeit all rights to the throne would have been horrifying for an early 17th century audience. The recent gunpowder plots and political unrest would have duly proved to the populace how necessary a strong monarch was. This leads us to the idea of the foreshadowing of Kingship. Kingship is a prominent theme, established right at the very beginning, and one which aptly foreshadows elements which appear later in the script. The scene starts halfway through a conversation between Kent and the Earl of Gloucester, who are casually chatting about which duke of the realm, he prefers, and which he will bestow favours upon, therefore straight away proving Lear's authority over some of the powerful men in the land. ...read more.


is standing right behind him. " ... this knave came something saucily to the world... there was good sport at his making..." etcetera. In addition, during this conversation, Gloucester refers to Edmund only as "knave", "he", "him" and even the highly offensive "whoreson", almost as if he wasn't there. This scene would have been interpreted by a Jacobean audience in much the same way it would be interpreted by a modern audience, with a fairly shocked approach, empathising with Edmund maybe, appreciating the harshness of Gloucester's words and the cruel treatment of his "bastard" son, however, the Jacobean audience would have had another reason for this reaction. The Great Chain of Being was a medieval conception of the order of the universe, and the things therein, with God at the top, surrounded by angels, then kings, the aristocracy, peasants, animals, plants etc., a hierarchy loosely connected with the order of creation in the bible, with Hell at the very bottom. It was basically a statement saying everything was God sent, including children, and with Gloucester being an Earl and so high up the chain, abusing his child would have been seen as abusing his divine position, and therefore disobeying the natural order, and therefore God. The humiliation of Edmund at the hands of Gloucester is later tipped on its head in a perfect example of role-reversal, ...read more.


It is unknown Shakespeare's personal beliefs concerning religion and superstition, but this play does suggest elements of atheism, buried deep within it. It is plain to see that nothing in the play goes right, or if it does, something happens to correct it and to return the play to misery, and the basic report made by centuries of analysis of the play is that Shakespeare was saying that the only way to succeed in life was not at the hands of some divine deity, but in the initiative that everyone needs to cooperate and "be nice" to each other. The evidence is hidden all throughout the play, and it is thought that Edmund's speech in Act 1 Scene 2 is (more or less) Shakespeare voicing his own opinions, although, it might not have been intentional by Shakespeare at all, however, it is an interesting subject. Personally, I do not find Lear a particularly drawing and interesting read, as it is almost the exact polar opposite of the kind of literature I prefer, but I do appreciate the genius, the effort and the motivation pumped into it by the playwright, and although I do not like it for my part, it is still a brilliant piece of work. *That's book as in script, not book as in novel. ...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 Miscellaneous 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 Miscellaneous essays

  1. Iago has been called a motiveless malignity. Discuss your personal response in this.

    He emotionally attacks everyone that he can manipulate and using them to attack Othello. We would know that Iago is a villian at the start of the play, '"So will I turn her virtue into pitch, And out of her own goodness make the net That shall enmesh them all."

  2. Much Ado

    This statement shows Leonato's determination and persistence until Hero's name is cleared. Claudio's arrogance and Don Pedro's dismissiveness helps to increase our sympathy for Leonato.

  1. Oedipus the King

    Oedipus is warned that 'the killer of Laius - that man is here'2. Oedipus' fate is also foretold, 'He that came seeing, blind shall he go; Rich now, then a beggar; stick-in-hand, groping his way To a land of

  2. Hacker Script

    JD: Ah, allow me to explain, yet again... JD: I said he didn't do it for the money Jesus: And I don't JD: But how do you think he could afford this place? JD looks into the camera JD: You're asking yourself, why then, did he use a set of lock picks to open the door?

  1. Retrospection In Oedipus The King

    The Theban chorus cries out to him for salvation from the plague sent by the gods in response to Laius's murder. Oedipus searches for the murderer, unaware that he himself is guilty of that crime. The blind prophet Tiresias is called upon to aid the search, but, after his warning

  2. English Literature

    Hill District was a poor neighborhood inhabited by black Americans, Italians, and Jews. During Wilson's teen years, "his mother married David Bedford, and the Bedford family moved from the Hill to a predominantly white working-class suburban neighborhood, Hazelwood, in the late 1950s [where] they encountered racial hostility"(August Wilson, African Americans),

  1. The Crucibe- The Gradual Revelation Of Abigail Williams.

    Abigail's true colours are really shown to the audience when she is talking to the other girls (Mercy, Mary Warren and Betty) about what happened in the woods. No one else is in the room, but these girls. She is very violent towards them.

  2. Analyse the first opening scene of Saving Private Ryan

    As he walks through the cemetery, his family is respectively holding back him giving him space and consequently symbolising respect for him. The scene primarily starts with an American flag to express regard and honour those whom fought and died bravely for their country.

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