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

How Successful Do you Consider Act 1: Scene 1 of King Lear to be?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How Successful Do you Consider Act 1: Scene 1 of King Lear to be? The play King Lear has been described as Shakespeare's most ambitious and brilliant work, and has been met with both strong condemnation and awe-inspired praise since it's composition in 1606. The opening scene is heavily dramatic and eventful, detailing the splitting of Lear's kingdom, his banishment of daughter Cordelia and servant Kent, and the worries of the character for Lear's mental health. It is written and structured expertly, and presents the play's most important themes, issues and relationships in the language that will dominate the play. The play begins with a conversation between the Earl of Kent, the Earl of Gloucester and his illegitimate son Edmund. They discuss the imminent division of the kingdom and reveal that the king is to make a decision between two dukes: Kent suggests that 'the King had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall'. The exposition here is minimal, as the first event of consequence in the play is Lear's division of the kingdom, but this does allow us to see that Lear has changed. Gloucester admits that 'It did always seem so to us... but in the division of the kingdom, it appears not which of the dukes [Lear] values most'. The purpose of this conversation is really to introduce the sub-plot. ...read more.

Middle

This communicates to the audience that Lear has made a grave error in divesting his power, and when combined with Kent's reminders of his close and loyal relationship with Lear - 'My life I never held but as a pawn, to wage against thine enemies' - suggests that Lear's behaviour is unusual, if such a trusted servant is willing to admonish him openly. The reader cannot judge Lear's behaviour because it is the opening scene and we have no point of comparison, but we know that Kent considers himself the 'true blank of [Lear's] eye' and if he is concerned then the audience must also call Lear's behaviour into doubt. The characters of the sisters, Cordelia, Regan and Gonerill are also well established during the opening scene. The first opportunity which the two older sisters are given to speak is in response to Lear's question of 'which of you shall we say doth love us most'; their replies are of unrequited love for their father; Gonerill claims that it is 'A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable', and Regan states that her love is so profound that she makes herself 'an enemy to all other joys'. This is contrasted sharply with Cordelia's first line, a simple aside in which she reflects 'what shall Cordelia speak? love, and be silent'. ...read more.

Conclusion

The country and characters are divided in the very first scene. Another important function of the opening scene is to introduce the themes of the play. In the very beginning refrain between Gloucester, Edmund and Kent, we see many elements that will reappear in the wider play: father-child relationships are subject to careful measurement, with Gloucester's relationship with his two sons - 'Who yet is no dearer in my account' - measured in the same way as those between Lear's relationships with his sons-in-law - 'It appears not which of the dukes he values the most'. The words of measurement, 'more', 'most', 'weighed' and 'neither' appear throughout the play and foreshadow the crisis caused by Cordelia's use of 'nothing' in the rest of the scene. Also, the theme of blindness and the difference between looking and seeing is evidenced in this first act, with Kent pleading with Lear to 'let me still remain the true blank of thine eye', and to 'see better'. This prefigures the imposed blindness of Gloucester later in the play. The opening of King Lear is highly successful in establishment of characters and in it's depiction of dramatic events. The plot is clearly explained and the themes of the play are introduced skillfully. The opening works so well because it begins with the climatic event that will shape the entire course of the play, and sets a reckless pace that is sustained throughout the play, until Lear's death. How successful do you consider Act 1:1 of King Lear to be? ...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. A Consideration of the way Shakespeare presents and develops the theme of blindness in ...

    Edgar builds his character to the extent that by the end of the play, Shakespeare illustrates to the audience that he has the most insight and rewards him with the title of King. Lear is blind and irresponsible as father and ruler, he is preoccupied with appearances, he wishes to

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

    It can also be said that Cordelia's character is similar to that of Desdemona in 'Othello', whereby she too symbolises virtue and mercy and tragically succumbs to evil actions. These characters are juxtaposed to their counterparts, for Cordelia it is Goneril and Reagan and for Edgar, it is Edmund.

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

    But Lear says he would rather sleep outside, be a slave to France or a slave to Oswald than to agree to these terms. Gonerill reacts in a negative way. 'At your choice, sir.' Regan demands that if he stays with her he can only have 25 followers.

  2. Character Analyses - King Lear

    Where Goneril has created chaos, Albany endorses nature's design and a view of nature's work within an organic framework. Albany accepts that nature's pattern is essential for survival. Early on, Albany hesitates to confront Goneril when he thinks she's wrong, but he is not the willing participant in evil that Cornwall is.

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

    so we'll live and pray and sing,' During his time on the heath, Lear considers those things which he selfishly paid little attention to whilst he had power. These things are still relevant today, and relate to the wretched condition of the poor, the corrupt justice system and true necessity.

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

    Lear is presented, in his reaction to Cordelia's answer, as a foolish, superficial and rash character. Shakespeare deliberately contrasts Cordelia's simple, honest words - 'I shall obey you, love you, honour you' - with the elaborate and hollow statements of her sisters - 'A love that makes breath poor, and

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

    He reverts into a state of oblivion, and denies himself personality, money, food, and his position in society. From this state of nothingness, he builds his character, and so is no longer blind to himself, therefore can more easily start to understand the intentions of those around him.

  2. Explore shakespeare's use of the Renaissance idea of fatalism and imagery linked to the ...

    Here he is making a topical reference to old-fashioned comedy in which, just as Edgar is predictable due to his superstitious belief, the catastrophe was contrived too mechanically, so that the required coincidence was also mechanically too convenient. Edgar has entered here very conveniently so Edmund can talk to him.

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