The Importance of Act 1 Scene 2 of William Shakespeare's King Lear

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The Importance of Act 1 Scene 2 of William Shakespeare's King Lear

In a play of immense grandeur, Shakespeare has created within King Lear; a character so depraved that he appears to step beyond the realms of forgiveness. Act 1ii is the keystone of King Lear - its significance and influence radiates throughout the whole of the play. Interwoven with and parallel to the central story line, the subplot is used to enhance and develop the key themes of this tragic masterpiece. The scene also begins the plot to crack the ‘bond…‘twixt son and father’. Driven by a selfish desire to displace his brother, and through his imperious and cunning performance, Edmund reveals to us a devious nature that we must
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In Act 1ii, Gloucester says, ‘I begin to find an idle and fond bondage in the oppression of aged tyranny, who sways not as in hath power, but as it suffered’. In both the main plot and the subplot, we can see that it is the ‘flawed’ aged who brings about their ultimate demise. Wanting to ‘shake all cares and business from our age’, Lear cannot accept that he is no longer fit to be a king. His mentality as a king is far from diminished, yet he does not appreciate the extent of his abdication. Devised by Plato and Aristotle, ‘The Great Chain of Being’ was a concept greatly subscribed to by Shakespeare’s contemporaries. A king is seen as being at the top of this hierarchy. In resigning the crown to his ‘younger strengths’, Lear forfeits the prestige of his position. We also see the family divisions that are becoming apparent between Lear and the betrayal of his daughters and Gloucester with his unnatural relationship with his sons. Although these challenges greatly the Chain of Being, both men have lost faith in their moral, natural child, who will ultimately always remain loyal to them, whereas the unnatural children they trust, engineers their downfall.

This theme links closely with the theme of sight. Shakespeare uses this theme as a device throughout the play that is tantamount with both thought and vision. The older men are blind to what is happening right before their very eyes,
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