Essay on Critical Study of Shakespeare's King Lear

Essay on Critical Study of Shakespeare's King Lear

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Critical Study of Shakespeare's King Lear

In this production of Shakespeare's King Lear, a feminist reading of
the play has been chosen to be presented to the audience. Certain
important factors must be taken into consideration as to how this
reading will be reflected on stage. Thus, we will examine, in detail,
two important scenes: Act I, scene i, and Act IV, scene iv, their
impact on the action and main issues of the play (ambition/ greed,
power, corruption, appearance versus reality and growth through
suffering) and how the characters, specifically the women roles, are
to be portrayed to reflect this particular critical reading.

Act I, scene i, is worthy of our attention as a valid representation
of the major issues within the play, an impetus for the play's ensuing
conflict and a display of the nature of the characters. The scene
opens with Gloucester and Kent discussing Lear's plan to retire and
partition his kingdom amongst his daughters. The king's public drama
of the love test denotes the insecurity and fear of an old man who
requires reassurance of his importance, blindly accepting his elder
daughters' seditious falsehoods. As opposed to a genuine assessment of
his daughters' love for him, the test seems to invite, rather demand,
flattery. Goneril and Regan's professions of love are banal and
insecure, 'I love you more than word can wield the matter,' however
Lear unreservedly welcomes these trite remarks. Regan echoes her
sister by saying, 'I find she names my very deed of love; only she
comes too short.' In contrast to her sisters, Cordelia, the youngest
and favourite daughter responds to Lear's emotional demands by
a...


... middle of paper ...


...th the character's emotions. When Lear fears that she
cannot love him 'your sisters…done me wrong/ you have some cause, they
have not,' Cordelia demurs 'No cause, no cause.' Here, the spectacle
of suffering eradicates past action so that the audience, along with
Cordelia, will murmur 'No cause, no cause.' Rather than a resolution
of the action, their reunion becomes an emblem of possible harmony,
briefly glimpsed before the tragic debacle.

The portrayal of Cordelia in IV vi is of particular significance in
facilitating a feminist reading of the play. Here she acts as a
feminine catalyst for the purgation of her father's evil doings. An
actor portraying the role of Cordelia in this particular scene would
need to make evident Cordelia's compassion and exhibit the virtues of
patience, forgiveness and familial loyalty.

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