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King Lear Essay, Research Paper
ACT ONE, SCENE ONE KING LEAR
Lines 248 260
It is said by Lear that it would have been better if Cordelia hadst not been born than not t have pleased me better , but France supports her by referring to her as Fairest Cordelia to put her into a better light. As France is portrayed as a true gentleman his views and opinions are respected more by the audience than Lear s, because Lear appears to the viewers as an egotistical and cruel man. Therefore, when France describes Cordelia as being rich but poor , Most choice yet forsaken and most loved though despised! the audience sees a major contrast through these paradoxes and agrees with France. This makes Lear look as if he is doing something monstrous as his opinion differs so much from France s. The fact that Lear is saying such shocking things about his daughter who he earlier called our joy shows that his words are not to be trusted.
Lear s monstrous behaviour is greatly emphasised by the different language techniques that France uses, such as the use of the paradoxes and the rhyming couplets like my chance with fair France and cold st neglect to inflamed respect . By using these methods, stress is put onto the point that is being made by France and therefore is more explicit to the audience. France also uses loaded verbs to describe Lear s actions, including cast and thrown , to suggest that Lear is being harsh and barbaric towards Cordelia, as these verbs sound aggressive.
Lines 237 239
When France remarks that Love s not love when it is mingled with regards that stand Aloof from th entire point he reveals a major issue that arises in this play. By saying this, he means that when there are other things being considered at the same time as love, the love cannot be true, as love should never be conditional. This is being directed towards King Lear and Burgundy, as being a father and a prospective husband, respectively, they should have unconditional love for Cordelia, which they evidently do not have. King Lear disowned his daughter within seconds because she didn t mend her speech a little to boost her father s ego and the result of this was that she would mar her fortunes . Burgundy, a possible suitor for Cordelia, stated that she would lose a husband unless he got his portion of the King s wealth, which was to be his dowry.
Lines 261 265
King Lear expresses his disgust of Cordelia by announcing to everyone that he has no such daughter and that he never wants to see That face of hers again . His tone is spiteful and dismissive towards his once favourite daughter and shows the audience how callous and cold-hearted he is. From this remark we can see that he is egotistical, superficial and materialistic. Lear has let the power of being King and his position next to God go to his head and has evidently become oblivious to everyone around him, even his own family. He only sees people for their materialistic value, which is evident from the contrast in the way he dismisses France and Cordelia for being worthless and says Come, noble Burgundy , with the emphasis being on noble .
It seems that whenever Lear talks about love or money he confuses the two, as to him they probably combine to mean the same thing. This is apparent when he advises France on his choice of bride:
T avert your liking a more worthier way
The word worthier is ambiguous as it suggests materialistic value as well as a romantic value. Therefore, we continually see Lear as being self centred as he believes that everyone revolves around him because he is the King.
Lines 266 273 / 279 280
When France and Cordelia are preparing to leave, Cordelia refers to her sister and father in her speech . By doing this she is revealing to the audience the family bonds that should be existent between her father and sisters. This contrasts with the relationships that exist in reality to show how Cordelia is being mistreated and disowned by her own family, people that should be emotionally close to her.
According to the Elizabethan World Order the family unit should be close and everyone within it should be closely bonded together. However, because of the way Lear has acted, the natural order has been disrupted, which would have unsettled God. This again puts Lear in a bad light, portraying him as being unnatural and against God, which would have been more important in the paganistic time this play was set in. This reinforces the magnitude of the situation, increasing the contrast between the honest Cordelia and the dishonest King Lear.
Lines 281 307
The register used by each character differs to represent the type of person they are playing. For instance, King Lear, a person of great significance and Cordelia, a virtuous woman, speak in verse to reflect their importance, whereas Regan and Goneril, people with low morality, speak in prose to mirror their personalities. The contrast between the use of verse and prose exposes the fact that Goneril and Regan are not to be highly opinionated by the audience because of the way they act. They are seen as scheming and manipulative from the way they talk about their father and future plans:
Tis the infirmity of his age; yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself We must do something, and i th heat. .
From this it can be seen that the sisters have a good understanding of Lear s nature, especially when it is said that Lear has never slenderly known himself as they know his flaws.
When Goneril and Regan discuss the situation they are in, they unite to plan what they are to do with their father, to keep him out of their lives (this actually shows sisterly bonding which was not evident between Cordelia and her sisters that isn t expected from Goneril and Regan) (Draws a parallel with Edmund who is also scheming against Edgar and Gloucester) . They have both noticed how he cannot successfully make judgements and by stating his faults they are justifying what they are going to do.
They seem to be very knowledgeable about Lear s nature and which is evident from the following points they make:
You see how full of changes his age is as he gets older his judgement worsens.
the observation we have made of it hath not been little the mistakes he makes have not been on a minor scale, but quite serious issues.
he always loved our sister most; and with what poor judgement he hath now cast her off aware of his favouritism and can t believe he disowned his most loved. Even they realise his grave error.
he hath ever but slenderly known himself he is foolish and not aware of his own behaviour.
The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash even at his peak he couldn t make good decisions.
The best and with them at his best he was hot-headed, so at his time of life we must expect not only ingrained faults of character, but also the erratic moodiness of old age.
Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him as this of Kent s banishment there are going to be many changes of mind and poor choices like Kent s banishment.
if our father carry authority with such disposition as he bears, this last surrender of his will but offend us giving the sisters the kingdom in such a way will only attract trouble.
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