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King Lear: Act 1 Scene 4
Key: plot form language structure character
Lines 1-10: Kent enters at the duke of Albany's palace disguised as a
servant and wants to serve Lear.
Kent: Loyal as he still wants to serve Lear, perhaps foolish as well, as he
disobeyed Lear's order by returning.
Lines 11-43: Lear asks a disguised Kent why he wants to serve him; Kent
says it is because he has the appearance of a person he can serve. Lear
questions Kent as to who he is and Kent makes himself seem good by saying
he can trust him and he will be honest.
The sentences throughout this passage are short as Kent is pretending to be
a blunt, down to earth servant.
Lines 44-93: Lear becomes angry as Oswald is not showing him the respect
he wants; as he insults Lear by saying he is "my lady's father" so by not
addressing him in the proper terms of a king he is referring to Lear as a non
important person as he now has no authority anymore. Lear is also angry as
Goneril refuses to see him and he is not treated with respect. He takes his
anger out on Oswald by hitting him and insulting him.
Lear speaks in exclamative as he gets angrier "He would not!"
Lear insults Oswald by using these adjectives and calling him "whoreson dog!
You slave! You cur!" The language connotes anger.
Lines 94-186: The fool enters and teases Lear for his foolish behaviour by
offering him his fools cap. The fool then carries on attacking Lear using
rhymes and riddles.
Lines 169-170: the fool is teasing Lear gently by saying Lear has given away
his power so his daughters can look after him, he is calling Lear lazy.
Fool: has a witty, clever character. Is able to insult Lear and defend
Cordeila without making Lear angry. This could be because Lear thinks of
the fool as the son he never had, which is seen from the language Lear uses
to address the fool such as `Lad' and `boy'.
"No lad; teach me" `lad' emphasises Lear's power as it degrades the fool.
The fool speaks in prose (apart from the songs which are spoken in verse)
this makes him more informal to Lear.
Lines 187-288: Goneril asks Lear about the behaviour of his followers, but
the fool isn't happy that Lear is being told what to do. Lear doesn't take
Goneril seriously until she asks him to reduce the number of his followers.
He then decides to go to Regan. Lear then compares Goneril ungrateful
behaviour to that of Cordeila's. He then gets angry and wishes that Goneril
will never have children although this is spoken like a curse; he wants to
make her life a misery.
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Exclamative and imperative's used a lot when Lear is cursing Goneril which
shows the extremity of his insults and anger.
Lines 214-215: the fool uses a metaphor to describe how Lear's daughters
are taking him over.
Goneril uses adjective such as `infected', disordered' and `deboshed' to
describe how her palace is now with all of Lear's knights, shows why she
wants less of Lear's followers present.…read more