The Significance Of Act 1 Scene 1

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The Significance Of Act 1 Scene 1 Of King Lear Essay, Research Paper The Tragedy of King Lear- The importance of act 1 scene 1 William Shakespeare, the greatest playwright the world has ever seen renowned for his ability to portray extremely realistic characters and the poetic verse that fills his plays. His plays have been classified into three main categories the tragedies, the comedies and the historic plays. Of his tragedies the play that left the most impact on a viewer was, in my opinion King Lear. The play was probably performed in the Globe first, but the first recorded performance was in the court of King James I in 1606 on St. Stephens’s day. There seems to be an irony behind this, since St. Stephens’s day is a festival in the Christian calendar that stressed

the folly and worldliness of man, which is exactly what Shakespeare attempts to do through King Lear. There is some controversy as to the actual happenings towards the end of King Lear’s life. One theory of Geoffrey of Monmouth is that King Lear after being stripped of all his rights by his elder daughters flees to France after which he is restored as King and Cordellia becomes his successor. Other theories include the suicide of Cordellia, but Shakespeare’s principle source for the play was “The chronicle history of King Lear”. Other possible influences for the play could have included the folk tale of Cinderella and the Salt and the story of Agamemnon and Iphegenia, both which deal with Parent child relationship’s which is one of King Lear’s important themes. King

Lear is more than the story of a Monarch and his divided realm; it deals with the facts of life and problems plaguing parent child relationships which more than ever have relevance to present times. The first scene of the play thrusts the audience into the plot with its fast development. Kent’s very opening line is a foreteller to conflict between the Dukes of Albany and Cornwall when he speaks of the king preferring Albany to Cornwall. The conversation that follows between Kent and Gloucester about Lear help reveal the unpredictability and irrationality of Lear. The following lines spoken by Gloucester reveal the theme of parent child relationships when he speaks of his “bastard son” Edmond he says ” I have so often blushed to acknowledge him, that now I am brazed

to’t”. He later refers to him as “Whoreson”. The change in language used after the arrival of King Lear from conversational to verse shows today’s reader the structured society of that period and the importance of a King and Kingship on the whole. King Lear’s opening speech further reveals his irrationality and eccentricity portraying him as egotistical and self-centered. What sort of a father would ask three of his daughters to “say doth love us most” to inherit wealth or lands? Gonerill reaction is ‘too good to be true’. She speaks in Hyperbole, which illustrates her superficiality to all except King Lear who is blinded by his ego and self-deception, which does not allow him to perceive the truth. Gonerill’s speech depicts herself as a sharp person who can

easily manipulate language for her convenience. The lines “I love you more than word can wield the matter” show these characteristics. Regan speaks truly when she says; “I am made of that self-mettle of my sister”. Her lines portray her as one who lives in Gonerill shadow and one who follows her elder sister, especially in her superfluous and shallow character. As her sisters are occupied expressing artificial love for their father Cordellia, one who truly loves her father is lost and doesn’t know what to do. This is evident in what she utters aside phrases like “Love, and be silent” and “I am sure my love’s more ponderous than my tongue”. Both quotes are directed towards shunning of Regan and Gonerill’s reaction to King Lear. King Lear address to Cordellia