KING LEAR - Act 1 Scene 1 & 2 analysis

  • Created by: S_F
  • Created on: 20-05-22 19:12
View mindmap
  • Scene 1
    • Inheritance issues are at stake (a matter of national concern for Shakespeare’s audience as Queen Elizabeth the first was childless and heir-less).
    • Gloucester introduces  Edmund (his silence is significant of his position as a ******* son, and keeps his true character concealed) to Kent, but he loves both of his sons – a Jacobean audience would not approve of this as he is favouring a ******* son and so seems accept lust - one of the seven deadly sins - and adultery.
    • Coleridge says that Edmund ‘hears ... the circumstances of his birth spoken of with the most degrading and licentious levity”. But Kittredge argues that Edmund is on stage but does not hear the conversation. If he did, it gives a potential psychological reason for his bitter attitude.
    • By having Edmund away, Gloucester’s fate is already sealed. Gloucester cannot fully know him yet  and so is easily deceived and manipulated. Gullible or metaphorically blind.
    • Lear is pained, humiliated, angry and feels betrayed. He  characterises himself as a dragon – power, destruction, and shows that ‘King Lear’ is set in a pagan world (this allows Shakespeare more freedom in dealing with controversial religious issues)
    • Cordelia rebels but only because she does not want to compromise her honesty and virtue.
    • Lear banishes Cordelia and his language now becomes very violent towards her. In the film we see him shaking showing potential weakness.
    • Kent and Cordelia’s behaviour here can be read as a warning to James, not to be taken in by flattering courtiers and advisors. James was to gain a reputation for indulging in his favourites.
    • Regan and Goneril's relationship with their father lacks the filial profession which they spoke of in their speeches. Family and national harmony are already destroyed.
    • Mood of uncertainty (typical of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama)
    • Edmund has a polite exterior – conceals his evil nature – differences between appearance and reality
    • Kent addresses Lear as ‘thou’ –  pronoun used to address close friends and children, so Kent is violating the law of order
    • Scene  2
      • Edmund offers his view and refuses to submit to the patriarchal hierarchy.
      • Gloucester comes in speaking in many short sentences  – he is exclaiming, showing shock and questioning of the events he has seen with Lear and his daughter
      • Gloucester is outraged and acts rashly calling him a villain. This is ironic and links with the idea of not seeing yourself clearly as when he enters he seems shocked by Lear’s rash actions yet now he seems to have acted similarly.
      • Gloucester is very superstitious, he blames the events on the sun and moon He believes that we are bound to a certain fate that is out of our control. Ironically, he realizes that Kent was just being honest and that he was right – but with his own circumstances he is blind to the reality.
      • During his soliloquy he speaks directly to the audience and in the film everything is dark except his face, this intensifies the moment.
      • In the soliloquy we see the reasoning of the ‘discontented malcontent’ and this was a character that was established as a theatrical type of a scornful and mocking outsider.




Reference for (most) information:

Similar English Literature resources:

See all English Literature resources »See all King Lear resources »