King Lear: act 1 scene 1 notes

notes on plot, characters, language, structure and form from act 1 scene 1 from King Lear

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  • Created on: 09-09-13 14:15
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King Lear: Act 1 Scene 1
Key: Plot form language structure characters
Lines 1-6: King Lear is going to divide up the kingdom between his
daughters, two of which are married to the Duke of Albany and the Duke of
Cornwall.
Lines 7-24: Kent changes subject and asks Gloucester if Edmund is his son.
Gloucester confirms he is and said he has kept him away from public view
due to him being an illegitimate son. He then insults Edmunds mother calling
her a `whore' and how he was only interested in her for a `good sport'.
Characters talking in prose (ordinary writing, divided into sentences and
paragraphs)
Lines 33- 52: Lear is going to divide up the kingdom into 3; the largest part
will be given to the daughter who loves him most.
Lines 37-39: Lear wants to give up being King (he will only be king in name
only) and live out the rest of his days in peace, as he realises he is getting
older.
Lines 53-118: Goneril and Regan flatter their father by telling him how
much they love him. Lear then says what land each daughter shall get.
However, Cordelia refuses to flatter her father and exaggerate her
feelings for him. She says she loves Lear only as a daughter should. Lear as
a result doesn't get any land and is disowned by him.
Abstract noun (things you can't psychically see/touch) "grace, health,
beauty, honour" her love for Lear is more than all of these things.
Semantic field of wealth: "self metal" "prize" "precious" uses connotations
of wealth to describe how `rich' her love is for him.
Lines 86-89: repetition shows Lear's shock at Cordelia's refusal
Line 89: imperative verb "speak again". Lear commands Cordelia to say
more.
"How, how Cordelia!" exclamative to show Lear's rise in tone and feeling of
anger.
Lines 107-114: (syntax) long complex sentence showing his rage and anger as
he disowns Cordelia.
King Lear: immature character, decides his kingdoms fate by demanding his
daughters to declare who loves him the most, which shows he is also
arrogant, and attention seeking. Perhaps not a wise ruler.
Lines 119-186: Kent tries to defend Cordelia. Lear gets ever angrier at Kent
for this and continuously warns him to be careful with what he says, but
Kent ignores him and continues to speak for Cordelia. Lear then banishes
Kent from the kingdom.

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As Lear's anger increases he starts shouting ever more strong commands and
insults: line 157- "out of my sight!" (Exclamative illustrates shouting),
"vassal! Miscreant!" (calling Kent inferior and a villain)
Line 158: "see better, Lear" Kent using imperative verb commanding Lear to
stop being so blind to what he is doing. Kent still tries to be a loyal subject.
Kent: he can see clearly the mistakes Lear is creating; he is loyal to Lear
and Cordelia. Accepts his punishment.…read more

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