KING LEAR - Act 1 Scene 3, 4 & 5 analysis

  • Created by: S_F
  • Created on: 21-05-22 00:10
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  • Scene 3
    • Scene 4
      • Scene  5
        • The scene takes place outside which suggests Lear’s growing isolation and fragile mental state. The recognition that he has mistreated Cordelia heightens the sense of isolation.
        • Lear is so distracted by disturbing thoughts he hardly engages with his Fool. The Fool's rhyming couplet that closes the scene offers a moment of light relief.
      • Lear returns to find Kaius (Kent in disguise), who seeks employment as a servant. Kent highlights that he is an honest man who seeks the truth; he is speaking about his actual character, not just Kaius.
      • The Fool reintroduces the motif of ‘nothing’ and Lear repeats ‘nothing can be made out of nothing’ – an echo of his words to Cordelia.
      • Lear is becoming less and less powerful and losing his identity as king when he says ‘who is it who can tell me who I am’ and ‘where are his eyes?’ (direct linking to moral blindness). The Fool answers with ‘Lear’s shadow’ – a shadow is insubstantial, it cannot do anything. He is lacking in power and fading away.
      • Lear curses Goneril and reiterates the idea that he must not be his daughter. He says she must be a ‘*******’ child as she is so evil – this directly links her to Edmund. He compares her to a monster, comparing her to something unnatural. Goneril’s behaviour is making Lear realise that his action towards Cordelia was inappropriate. It is this realisation that will lead to his madness.
      • The size of a retinue of a noble was important in both terms of protection and symbolically. It becomes obvious that his threats and curses cannot be followed through as he has no army, no power.
      • We realise that Lear’s mental faculties, like his verse structure, is beginning to fragment. He uses 'I' instead of the royal 'We'. He insists Regan will help him (dramatic irony as the audience is aware that Regan feels exactly the same as Goneril)..
      • Goneril calls her husband a coward, soft, gentle, weak and wimp.
      • His threats seem empty and speeches became more disjointed, hinting at the madness to come.
    • family conflicts, clashes and tensions can be seen here
    • Lear’s erratic behavior and lack of respect is also seen -  he is determined to continue acting as the king.·
    • Goneril tells Oswald to not be so kind to Lear; again in terms of the contemporary audience this would have been seen as shocking.
    • She resents the fact that her father still wants to keep some power.


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