King Lear Act 1 Scene Essay

1300 words - 6 pages

What impact did Act 1 Scene 1 of King Lear have on you?

The first scene of the first act of King Lear had a genuinely dramatic affect upon me. This first glimpse into the world of Lear and his subordinates sets the premise for the whole play, unravelling within the first few pages, themes which I believe will become increasingly evident. The scene opens with the introduction of three characters – Kent, Gloucester and Edmund. Of these three characters the only one who seems not to have been shown in an unfavourable light yet, by this brief introduction, is Kent. This could be intentional to set It is made clear Edmund is a bastard, and therefore illegible for proper acknowledgement ...view middle of the document...

Also with relation to the words of Gloucester we know that the best share of the land is meant for Cordelia. With his first line he shows that not even the Earl’s knew of his “darker purpose”, which was to get each of his progeny to profess their love for him. This seems like a way to build his ego, which with his pride is in abundance. Goneril is the first to speak and when she says what Lear wants to hear she is given her third of the land. Regan then speaks and is also awarded a third similar to Goneril. At this point of the scene it can be clearly noticed how similar Goneril and Regan are, as Regan asks Lear to measure her worth as he measured Goneril’s. This closeness seems symbolic in a way to the close-knit coven in Macbeth, as these women seem to have underlying deceptive qualities. Before considering Cordelia’s answer to Lear, we must note her comments made during Goneril and Regan’s ‘speeches’. This is keen use of the aside speech by Shakespeare as the audience would be able to hear Cordelia’s confusion over what her response shall be and her truthful belief that her love is more ponderous than her tongue. Her indecision over what to say to her father shows really how much she does not want to offend him, but instead she does the opposite, as he cannot see beyond his pride, to her loyal words. When she says “Nothing”, she is indicating to him that he should no the worth of her love for him. The king, shocked with this appearance of ingratitude in his favourite child, desired her to consider her words, and to mend her speech, lest it should mar her fortunes. Cordelia then tells Lear that she loves him according to her station, and as much as he loves her as his daughter. She is as she says “young…and true”. Lear is obviously hurt but it seems, due to the severity of his actions, that his pride and title have been harmed more. He disowns her and she becomes his “sometime daughter”. At this point Kent intervenes on Cordelia’s behalf knowing that Lear will regret his decision. He is warned to come not “between the Dragon and his wrath.” Again he interjects and again. At this point Lear has gone from angry to furious. He banishes Kent, one of his most stalwart supporters, from his kingdom, giving him ten days to leave or else he will be executed. Kent takes his leave but not before bidding farewell to Lear and his daughters. He says to Cordelia that what she spoke was “rightly said!” He also makes a comment to Goneril and Regan bidding them to love Lear as they have said. As...

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