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    Different Sides to Every Character in Shakespeare’s King Lear

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    I find it interesting the way that Shakespeare shows that there are different sides to each character’s personality, so that the audience is unsure of who to place their sympathy with. The way that people are referred to as being like objects throughout this scene is also interesting. I also find it interesting the way that Cordelia is presented as being not quite so perfect towards the end of the scene as Lear thinks she is at the start of the scene. This could suggest to the audience that Cordelia has never shown her true feelings prior to this scene. Lear is presented by Shakespere as being quite old and possibly losing his better judgement, and it is interesting the way that Regan and Gonerill seem to be plotting against him which could shift the audience’s sympathy towards Lear.

    The way Shakespeare presents Gonerill as having two sides to her is interesting. When she gives her speech, Gonerill makes a huge effort to convince Lear that she loves him most, “I love you more than word can wield the matter”, “Beyond all manner”, these words suggest her love goes further than she can say. She could also be trying to imply that she loves Lear “beyond” her two sisters. However her attitude towards Lear changes when she is speaking to Regan in the last part of the scene, “If our father carry authority”, the word “if” suggests that Gonerill does not respect her father, and that she or others do not necessarily belive he carries authority any longer.

    I also find the way Burgundy’s attitude toward Cordelia dramatically changes when he finds out that she no longer has any money interesting. When he thinks she still has money, Burgundy says “I crave no more than hath your highness offered nor will you tender less?” the word “crave” suggests that Burgundy is greedy and he is always craving money, or it could suggest an

    addiction to money. The words “your highness” could suggest to the audience that Burgundy is always really polite to Lear to get more money. Where Burgundy says “Nor will you tender less?” could suggest that Burgundy has

    guessed that something is wrong and he is getting worried. When Burgundy learns that Cordelia has no money, he says, “Pardon me, royal sir Election makes not upon such conditions”. The “Pardon me, royal sir” again

    suggests that Burgundy does not want to fall out of Lear’s favour. The pause in-between “Pardon me” and “royal sir” could suggest that Burgundy is very cross that Lear is not going to give him any money and he is going to say something, but then he re-thought his position and decided to be polite. The word “election” could suggest that Burgundy is only marrying Cordelia for the money, as it is an unromantic way to describe getting married. Also the words “such conditions” could suggest that Burgundy can not even bring himself to say what has happened. This shows the audience that Burgundy has two sides to him as it suggests that he only wanted to marry Cordelia for money, which could make the audience lose any sympathy they had for him, as when you marry someone you are supposed to love them.

    However it could make the audience feel sorry for him as maybe he just wants some land so that he can provide for Cordelia. However Shakespeare makes it very hard for the audience to feel like this as Cordelia says “since that respect and fortunes are his love” which suggests that Burgundy only loves money. It could also suggest that Burgundy feels he would not be respected if he married Cordelia without gaining any land. It could also suggest that Burgundy would lose the “respect” of Lear if he married Cordelia.

    The way that people throughout this scene are described as objects is interesting as it raises the issue of value and how the people in the play are seen as material possessions to Lear, which could make the audience lose their sympathy towards him. It could also make them wonder if Lear is only doing this because he is growing old or if he has always been like this. An example of this is when Lear says that Cordelia’s “price has fallen” which suggests that he thinks of everyone in terms of how much they are worth to him.

    Also where he says “She’s there, and she is yours” sounds like he is disclaiming her as if she is an object. The phrase “she is yours” makes its sound like he doesn’t want her anymore, there is no sign that he has any problem letting her go. The words are also suggestive of someone disposing of a thing rather than a person. The word “is” could almost sound like Lear is forcing Cordelia upon Burgundy. Also the phrase “She’s there” is strange because it sounds like Lear thinks that Burgundy might not have seen her.

    It could also suggest that Lear is saying that that is all she is and nothing else will come with her. The effect this has on the audience is varied. It could make them wonder if Lear is only disclaiming Cordelia as if she were an object because he isn’t in his right mind, or whether he truly means it. It could also make them feel sorry for Lear because the fact that he is disclaiming Cordelia as if she were an object suggests that she really hurt Lear.

    However it isn’t just Lear who describes Cordelia as an object, France also describes her as an object when he says “That she whom even but now was your best object”. This could suggest to the audience that everyone in the play sees people as being objects, he also says “Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon”. The word “seize” sounds like he is seizing and object before someone else takes it. This could make the audience wonder if France is similar to Lear in any way.

    I find the way that Shakespeare hints towards the end of the scene that Cordelia is not the perfect daughter Lear thought she was interesting. It could be suggested to the audience that Cordelia has never shown her true feelings before this. This could be suggested when she says “Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides;” Here Cordelia could be suggesting that in time all true feelings come out. This could suggest to the audience that she has always felt like this but has never shown it before. When Cordelia describes her sisters as “The jewels of our father” it could again be suggesting to the audience the idea that everyone in this play is valued only as an object. The word “jewel” suggests high value. The words “of our father” could suggest that they her sisters now belong to her father like objects.

    I find the way that Lear is presented as possibly losing his better judgement interesting as even in the first scene it is implied to the audience that Lear is going to make a huge mistake. It may also make them feel sorry for him later in the play when Gonerill and Regan turn on him. In the last lines of this scene when Gonerill and Regan are talking to each other the audience is shown that Gonerill and Regan are aware that Lear may be losing his better judgement and they are wondering what to do, “Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him as this of Kent’s banishment.” The words “unconstant starts” suggest that Lear has been “unconstant” in his judgement. The words “as this of” could suggest to the audience that Kent’s banishment is just one example of the bad judgement that Lear has made, suggesting that Lear has been feeling the effects of age for a while.

    This could lead the audience to believe that Lear has made a mistake in banishing Cordelia. This is also suggested to the audience when Gonerill says “He always loved our sister most, and with what poor judgement he hath now cast her off appears too grossly.” The words “poor judgement” definitely suggest to the audience that Lear was wrong to banish Cordelia, and that his judgement is no longer sound.

    The way that Gonerill and Regan appear to be plotting against Lear at the end of this scene could make the audience feel sorry for Lear as he has banished one daughter and the other two are plotting against him. The last part of the scene could also suggest to the audience that Gonerill tried and succeeded in turning Regan against Lear. This is suggested throughout the last part as Gonerill keeps saying “we”. However Regan doesn’t use this word until her last line of this scene. It is also suggested when Regan says “We shall further think of it” and Gonerill then says, “We must do something, and I’th’heat.” This could suggest that Regan only wants to “think” of what to do, which could suggest to the audience that she doesn’t really want to hurt Lear. But when Gonerill says “we must do something” and then the scene ends, it could suggest to the audience that Regan is convinced that they must “do” something as she doesn’t argue back.

    My view of a part of this scene

    I am going to do the part where Burgundy says

    “Pardon me, royal sir,

    Election makes not up in such conditions”

    Firstly as Burgundy is shocked by the news that Cordelia has fallen out of Lear’s favour I would have him striding up to the throne as he is saying “Pardon me” in an angry voice and looking quite angry that he won’t be getting any money. I think this should happen because I think that Burgundy would be really angry that he had spent all this time being all friendly and polite towards Lear to get money which is suggested by the fact that he won’t marry Cordelia if there is no money involved. As he does this one or two guards should come up and pull him back from Lear as they think Burgundy is going to hurt Lear. I think that this should happen because it would suggest to the audience that Lear may have a lot of guards looking out for him, which could suggest that he is getting paranoid as he is getting older.

    Then, still a bit cross Burgundy should pull away from the guards and look like he is going to say something else but thought better of it. Then his expression should change into a fake smile and he should put on a patronising voice when he says “royal sir”. This could suggest to the audience that Burgundy thinks he can sweet talk his way around Lear and possibly still get some money.

    Then to emphasise this, Burgundy should gingerly approach the throne to show the guards that he poses no threat to Lear, and he should say “Election makes not up in” in a patronising voice, but possibly with a bit of anger in his voice as well to show the audience that he is still cross about what has happened. Then there should be a pause, as if Burgundy is trying to think about how to phrase his point without offending Cordelia too much. Which could suggest to the audience that he does actually like her, but without her money she just isn’t enough. Then he should say “such conditions” carefully, as if he is worried about what Lear’s reaction is going to be. Again suggesting to the audience that Burgundy doesn’t want to get on the wrong side of Lear and is still perhaps hoping that he can get some money.

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    Different Sides to Every Character in Shakespeare’s King Lear. (2018, May 28). Retrieved from

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