KING LEAR - Act 2 Scene 1 & 2 analysis

  • Created by: S_F
  • Created on: 21-05-22 13:35
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  • Scene 1
    • In Gloucester’s castle, Curan informs Edmund that Regan and Cornwall are expected soon. Curan is bringing  gossip and rumours about a civil war and the likely war between Cornwall and Albany, suggesting further strife between brothers. The  rumours are symbolic of the breakdown in law, order and civilised relationships.
      • All this chaos and uncertainty can, in some ways, be attributed to Lear for dividing his kingdom.
    • Scene 2
      • The insults Kent hurls at Oswald can provide slight comic relief – however, it is also a serious dramatic moment because by attacking Oswald Kent is striking a metaphorical blow against the force of evil. Here there is a glimpse of good in the play as good fights evil.
      • Kent challenges him to a fight, Oswald backs away and yells out – he is a coward. He also states that he did not kill him because he is old in an attempt to appear brave and capable. Kent speaks of the “holy-cords” which refer to different types of bonds – perhaps the bond between married couples. This might be a hint of a romantic relationship between Goneril and Oswald – who seem very close.
      • Kent is punished for his virtue and honesty, like Cordelia and Edgar.
      • Cornwall's true nature emerges. He supports Oswald and insults Lear’s age. He refuses to listen to Gloucester and usurps Gloucester’s position in his own household. Regan comes across as malevolent by enjoying and even doubling Kent’s punishment, just because she can – cruelty without reason. The sisters are in control and not Lear (emphasised by Cornwall saying it is more important to listen to Regan than Gloucester) – the old patriarchy and power structure is being reversed.
      • Gloucester tries to plead for him and stays to offer his condolences. Shakespeare is creating sympathy for Gloucester.
      • The hint that Cordelia will return offers some hope. (In the film this is shown with Kent looking directly at the camera and thus addressing the audience).
    • Gloucester's rash harshness mirrors, and possibly goes beyond, Lear’s. Lear and Gloucester act on emotions and it is also arguable that Gloucester is even more blind than Lear as Lear has physically seen what he felt was wrong in his daughter but Gloucester is only relying on hearsay.
    • Edmund is very ironic by saying that Edgar accused him of being the one behind this all but that he is not capable of doing such a thing - and so he is further manipulating Gloucester.
      • Gloucester, like Lear, seems vulnerable and isolated.
    • Regan wonders whether Edgar was egged on by Lear’s knights – further emphasising her own ideas that his knights are a bad influence.
    • Evil characters begin to gain ground and run riot in the kingdom


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