• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4

Explore how Shakespeare shapes the audience's response to Lear throughout the course of the play.

Extracts from this document...


Christina Duho Explore how Shakespeare shapes the audience's response to Lear throughout the course of the play. Shakespeare shapes the audience's response to Lear by the development of the character of Lear, who undergoes significant changes throughout the play. The play charts a journey of self-realisation for Lear where he learns some important lessons. Shakespeare introduces us to the character of Lear with the line "The king is coming" at which point, all characters on stage at that moment are drawn to attention, followed by Lear's dramatic entrance onto the stage. By this Shakespeare straightaway establishes Lear's authority to the audience. By the set up of the stage and Lear's dramatic entrance, the audience will be expecting an important event to occur. Shakespeare conveys the impression that Lear's intentions, "we shall express our darker purpose" will have a dramatic effect on the other characters at the 'love test' at the beginning of Act 1. This 'love test' sets the scene for the rest of the play. Here, Shakespeare presents Lear as an egocentric, self-obsessed character. Lear uses the royal plural and thus Shakespeare makes the audience feel that he is a proud man. ...read more.


The audience may begin to feel sympathy for Lear when shown disrespect by Goneril's servant, Oswald. The major flaw is that while stepping down from the throne, Lear has given up all his formal authority to those who do not love him and will misuse their power against Lear. Lear does not have the authority to command anyone, but does not realise this at this stage. This is the first time that Lear sees a change in the way people act towards him. Shakespeare then presents the close relationship between Lear and the Fool through their informal manner of speaking to each other shown by the Fool addressing Lear as "nuncle". The Fool arrives on the scene with a series of puns as he cleverly uses his position as the court jester to tell Lear important truths such as "Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise". The riddles and songs make the audience realise that Lear has to be approached like a child when telling him he is wrong. Shakespeare uses the new power of Goneril and Reagan to prove Lear's declining power as Goneril and Regan conspire to destroy Lear's remaining influence. ...read more.


This reconciliation scene builds the audience up for a happy ending, but this has been a false sense of security. With the death of Cordelia, Lear's goes back into madness. The audience sympathise with him as Cordelia was that Lear had. "Howl, howl, howl, howl! O you are men of stones!" shows Lear's howl of despair and grief. Lear kills the man who hanged Cordelia for a sense of justice, also as he feels so much guilt for having ever wronged Cordelia. The new humble Lear that we see towards the end of the play is far from the arrogant king we saw at the beginning of the play. Lear in the audience's view has been transformed from an egotistical king to a loving figure complete with the transformation from blindness into sight. Shakespeare presents Lear as a tragic hero who gains insight through suffering. In the first scene, Lear changes the fortune of Cordelia and Kent. As a result of his misjudgement, his fortune is changed by Goneril and Regan. His behaviour inevitably led to bringing the kingdom on to the edge of civil war, but the extent of Lear's punishment and final loss is not deserved. Shakespeare's different presentations of Lear trigger different audience responses towards Lear. The audience's response to Lear changes from detesting him to pitying him. ...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. Self discovery in King Lear

    Finally, when Lear returns carrying the body of Cordelia, there is another realization that he his just another animal in this toxic world, "Pray you, undo this button." This is a deliberate method of making this particular point as it ties together the end of a dramatic journey with the events in the storm.

  2. An analysis of the theme of justice in 'King Lear'.

    After Kent was banished, he created a disguise for himself and was eventually hired by Lear as a servant. Lear's inability to determine his servant's true identity proved once again how blind Lear actually was. He realized how wicked his two eldest daughters really were after they locked him out of the castle during a tremendous storm.

  1. Discuss the notion of appearance and reality in the play King Lear.

    foolish, and when he is mad he shows the true traits of wisdom. When Kent, Lear and the fool are in the storm, the king shows concern for the fool and one understands this from the phrase, 'boy go first.

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

    Lear's irrational responses to the truth, with the dismissal of Kent and Cordelia creates sympathy when he eventually realises he should ask for there forgiveness thus this contrast in his treatment to the same characters in different point of the play creates sympathy when he realises he is just a man and is no better than the other characters.

  1. How Does Lear change throughout the play?

    This is unlike any other monarch, as Kings and Queens usually rule their land all by themselves. There was no real need for the 'Love Test', as Lear already knew that Cordelia was he favorite daughter and that she loved him the way she should, but Lear is so vain and selfish.

  2. Representation of Women in 'King Lear'

    This would mean that their power would have been disapproved of and considered un-natural - which agrees with the two sisters' unacceptable attitudes in comparison to the image ordinarily associated with Elizabethans of that time period (their adulterous actions). Elizabethans believed in the 'divine right of Kings', which would have

  1. King Lear - Lear Exclaims in Act 3 That He is "More Sinned Against ...

    Slowly we see the emergence of a more self-pitying and humble view of himself. Lear's enlightenment begins when he replies to Regan's question "what need one?" of his retinue. " O reason not the need," (2/4/256) he argues and he reflects that even the "basest beggars" own things that are not necessary.

  2. An Analysis of the Role of Comedy in Shakespeares Great Tragedy King Lear

    These people may indeed find this scene comic whilst other will feel sorry for Gloucester and his impotence even in suicide. He really does cut a truly pathetic figure. This truly heart-rending and dejected scene in the play is an important one because it prepares the audience for what is to come next: Lear at his lowest ebb.

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