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How Does Shakespeare Present the Diminishing of King Lear in Acts 1 and 2?

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Madmonkey1
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The play’s plot is driven by the power and consequence of losses, more specifically, the losses and diminishing of Lear. In the course the play, King Lear, because of his flaws, loses his authority as a king, his identity as a father, and his sanity as a man.

The play begins with King Lear's decision to divide his kingdom among his three daughters. This is the first sign of Lear's loss and diminishing of his power through the loss of his authority. Wanting to abandon his responsibilities before his time, Lear claims, "tis our fast intent / To shake all cares and business from our age, / Conferring them on younger strengths while we / Unburdened crawl toward death". It can be argued that this diminishment comes from his own decision to prematurely abdicate the throne. Lear carries immense insecurity and egotism as he announces that he will offer the largest share of kingdom to the daughter who professes the greatest love for him. Goneril and Regan both proclaim in fulsome terms that they love him more than anything in the world, while Cordelia speaks from her heart in honest terms that she loves him exactly as a daughter should love her father. Valuing self-importance above all else, Lear is blind to the loyalty and love of Cordelia and instead, perceptive to the flattery of his two vile daughters. This only furthers the notion that his diminishing is not only largely self initiated and inflicted but also that it is largely deserved as one is likely to sympathise with Cordelia and Kent.

Lear's diminished royal authority now transfers to his two daughters, Goneril and Regan, and they deceitfully use this power against him. Ironically, Lear also falls in status, to a level inferior to that of his own children. Goneril no longer loves him "beyond all manner" and Regan no longer is "an enemy to all other joys" as they have professed in the beginning. Instead,…...

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