An Argument To Support The View That

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An Argument To Support The View That ‘everything About The Pl Essay, Research Paper An argument to support the view that “everything about the play [King Lear] hangs on the first two scenes not just the plot but the values as well.” “King Lear, as I see it, confronts the perplexity and mystery of human action.” (Shakespeare’s Middle Tragedies, 169) As the previous quotation from the scriptures of Maynard Mack implies, King Lear is a very complex and intricate play which happens to be surrounded by a lot of debate. “The folio of 1623, which was, as is well known, edited by two of Shakespeare’s fellow actors” (Notes and Essays on Shakespeare, 242), contains not only historical errors, but errors which pertain to certain characters speaking other characters

lines. Amidst all the controversy one fact can be settled upon by all; King Lear is one of Shakespeare’s best tragedies. While being a great play, the bulk of the plot in King Lear comes mainly from the first two scenes where most of the key events happen. Along with the plot there is also extensive amounts of setup that occur within the dialogue which key the audience in on the morals and values of the characters. Marilyn French is completely accurate when she states that “Everything about the play hangs on the first two scenes not just the plot but the values as well” (Shakespeare’s Division of Experience, 226). The opening scenes of King Lear do an immaculate job of setting up the plot and forming the basis for all the events which occur in the later scenes of the

play. “The elements of that opening scene are worth pausing over, because they seem to have been selected to bring before us precisely such an impression of unpredictable effects lying coiled and waiting in an apparently innocuous posture of affairs.” (Shakespeare’s Middle Tragedies, 170) Not only do the opening scenes impress upon us what events could happen in the future, they seem to give us the whole plot in a neatly wrapped package. After the first two scenes are over the audience is basically just along for the ride, waiting to see how the events given to us in the opening scenes unfold. “As we look back over the first scene, we may wonder whether the gist of the whole matter has not been placed before us, in the play’s own emblematic terms, by Gloucester, Kent,

and Edmund in that brief conversation with which the tragedy begins.” (Shakespeare’s Middle Tragedies, 171) In the first scene Lear, having realized that death is closing in on him, decides to divide his land between his daughters. This is one of the most pivotal points in the play as the effects of this action are enormous. Lear ends up casting aside Cordelia, who is the only daughter he has who truly loves him, and gives all his land to his other two, power hungry, daughters. The other pivotal point in the first scene which has a huge affect on the rest of the play is the inclusion of the talk about Edmund. Edmund realizes that, due to his illegitimacy, he can never amount to anything. “The first action alluded to is the old king’s action in dividing his kingdom, the

dire effects of which we are almost instantly to see. The other action is Gloucester’s action in begetting a bastard son, and the dire effects of this will also speedily be known.” (Shakespeare’s Middle Tragedies, 171) The consequences of these two actions are what the whole play revolves around. The division of Lear’s kingdom causes Reagan and Goneril to realize that “Lear had lived long, but he had not learned wisdom.” (Notes and Essays on Shakespeare, 262) As they begin to realize just how easy they can take advantage of him, Lear begins to see this as well and is furious, at first, then his madness starts to set in. Gloucester’s bastard son, Edmund, plays a very important role in the plot of the play as well. His struggle for power and notoriety causes much