20th March 2018

King Lear Explained

Act One Scene One


  1. What is Lear saying in this excerpt? Is he being honest about his intentions here? Support your answer with evidence from the text.

He is asking his daughters to spell out their love for him, as he is about to divide his kingdom. His excerpt, or piece speech is about how he wants to give majority to one of his daughters however in front of the whole court they must deliver a speech on just how much they love their father. I believe he is being dishonest as he and everyone knows his youngest Cordelia was his favourite so he was already prepared to give it to her, however in a shock to his Lordship she refuses and declares what a selfish a stupid idea this is. In return she is banished and cut from the family. “Which of you shall we say doth love us most? That we our largest bounty may extend, Where nature doth with merit challenge.” this support his selfish and dishonesty. He just wants his daughters to sing his praises to the whole court and build his ego. He wants to enjoy being king without the responsibility, so his speech is filled with lies disguising this.


  1. List Lear’s reasons for wishing to divide up his kingdom.


The King wants to divide his kingdom because of his age, “To shake all cares and business from our age,” this meaning he is getting old and can no longer perform the duties required by a king. This also show us his character as selfish as deep down he just wants to be able to still be king yet just pass on his responsibility to someone else. His age is a disguising his selfish motive.


  1. What does Cordelia say in response to Lear’s question? How does this set her apart from her sisters?


Cordelia sister all flatter and lie to their father. Cordelia speaks the truth, and when speaking the truth that will always set you apart from others. “Unhappy I am, I cannot heave, My heart into your mouth. I love your Majesty According to my bond.” Basically saying she loves him for the fact she is his father and not for what he has done, she obviously doesn’t admire him as a person or a leader, she only sees him as her father and nothing more. At first we she she tries to say nothing, to protect her fathers image even though he is selfish, her father insists and she tells the truth making her father look stupid, so in rage from King Lear banishes her.


  1. Lear has a bad reaction to Cordelia’s response. What does he do? What personality trait is he displaying when he does this?


He responds ‘dump’ founded to her “nothing”. He expected to give her most of the kingdom due to her being the favourite. He responds by banishing her from the kingdom and from his family. He shows traits of evil, lack of respect, and his ego is so large he cannot take negative feedback, I suspect later on he will regret his rash decision to remove his own daughter and come to realise who he has really become.


  1. Kent attempts to reason with Lear. It does not work. What happens to Kent as a result of this conversation and how do you think this decision will impact Lear in the future?


Kent tries to reason with King Lear as any reasonable man would, as the king has just expelled one of his daughters for no good reason other than to maintain pride. Kent as a a result of this is also banished and force to leave. This I believe will also come back to haunt the king as Kent was a noble man and was an asset to the kingdom and just might later find out he needs his help.


  1. Explain what is being discussed between Regan and Goneril. How do they feel about their father? What personality traits of Lear’s stand out from this conversation? What personality traits of Regan and Goneril stand out in this conversation?

Act 5


  • Wipe thine eyes;
  • An turn our impress’d lances in our eyes
  • hat eye that told you so look’d but a-squint.
  • Lend me a looking-glass;
  • This is a dull sight. Are you not Kent?
    This shows us that King Lear’s eyesight has not really improved at all, even when his daughter dies he is still unable to make sense of reality, “Lend me a looking-glass;”, this is what he says, proving his sight has not improved. Edmund on the other has does improve, as he is on the sister’s side, but finally after being stabbed by his brother he realises what his has done is wrong and in his last moments realises and does the right thing, however, it is too late, Cordelia dies anyway. Any others who were on the evil side also realise their mistakes and in their dying, moments make the right call, however, everyone is too late, and only two people end up walking away alive, as everyone else is killed or kills themselves.


King Lear








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