King Lear Questions Act I

What is the question Lear asks his daughters before he makes the division of his kingdom final? What does he expect of his daughters? Lear demands that his daughters affirm their love for him. He asks “which of you shall we say doth love us most?” Lear expects his three daughters to offer him rivaling speeches and declarations of love and affection. However, Lear is looking for empty words and flatteries rather than an honest affirmation of love.
What is Cordelia’s answer to Lear’s question, and why is Lear outraged by Cordelia’s answer? Cordelia declares that she has “nothing” to say to her father in order to deserve her inheritance. She also explains that she only loves Lear “according to her bond; nor more nor less.” Lear is disappointed because Cordelia has always been his favorite daughter. he expected her to top her sister’ flattering speeches. However, Cordelia loves her father with the honest affections of a daughter and refuses to offer Lear the empty and meaningless flatteries he is looking for. Lear does not recognize Cordelia’s sincerity. He is outraged, and eventually banishes Cordelia and renounces her as his daughter.
How does Kent’s reaction to Lear’s banishment of Cordelia introduce theme of sight and insight? Kent understands that Cordelia’s words have expressed true loyalty to her father. He subsequently warns Lear to “see better”. Kent wants Lear to understand that Cordelia’s answer is a more honest declaration of love than the words her sister have spoken. He realizes that Lear is “blind”; Lear does not “see” true honesty and love. Kent understands that Lear is very superficial, and he offers to help Lear look beneath the surface of appearances ands vague flatteries.
In the first scene of the play, how does Shakespeare establish the parallels between the stories of Lear and his daughter on the one hand, and the story of Gloucester and his sons on the other hand? The parallel between the two plot lines established in this first scene is based on the relationship between natural and unnatural affections and the inability of Lear and Gloucester to realize the true characters of their children. Lear misjudges his three daughters. He believes that Goneril and Regan love him, while he insists that Cordelia is an unthankful child who is not deserving of her inheritance. Lear comes to this conclusion based on the artificial and superficial speeches Regan and Goneril have offered him. Gloucester differentiates between his children in a similar manner. He favors Edgar, who is his legitimate son, while he makes fun of Edmund, his son born out of wedlock. Both Gloucester and Lear do not carefully evaluate their children’s characters and actions and only look at the surface of things to form their opinions.
Explain the ambiguous nature of Cordelia’s farewell to her sisters: “The jewels of our father, with wash’d eyes/ Cordelia leaves you”, particularly as she reveals the theme of sight and insight? Cordelia’s reference to her own “wash’d eyes” serves as an ambiguous statement that follows the sight and insight theme. Cordelia might refer to her own crying as she leaves her family, but, on another level, she might refer to her own clarity of vision, her insight and understand into the true nature of her sisters’ love for their father. Cordelia’s eyes have been “washed” and now she sees clearly- she understands that her sisters have been insincere in their declarations of love to their father.The expression “jewels of our father” also refers to the sight and insight theme. “Jewels” might serve as a synonym for eyes. Cordelia understands that her father falsely trusts her sisters. He “sees” things the way Regan and Goneril want him to see things. By looking at the world through the eyes of Regan and Goneril, Lear is misled and commits the mistake of banishing Cordelia and giving up his power.
How does Lear’s “love test” foreshadow the way the plot is going to play out and suggest the primary character motivation for the action of the play? By promising to divide his kingdom based on who loves him the most, Lear has essentially pitted daughter against daughter. This suggests that sibling rivalry is the predominant motivation.
What emotion reasons are suggested for Goneril and Regan’s later treatment of their father and Cordelia? Lear clearly favors Cordelia. He says he will divide his kingdom based on each daughter’s profession of love, yet he gives each daughter her share before the other have spoken, saving the best portion for Cordelia. Clearly the two older sisters would envy their obviously-favored youngest sister and resent their father of this obvious favoritism.
What emotions are at the root of the Edmund/Edgar plot line? Again, sibling rivalry and the desire for parental affection is at the heart of Edmund’s decision to become a villain.
How has Lear upset the “natural order”? Royalty is born to its rank, authority and privileges. A proper king has an obligation to reign, not merely a prerogative. By abdicating his authority, Lear is essential abandoning his rightful, place in the universe.
What information is contained in the letter that Edmund pretends to conceal from his father? Edmund holds a letter he forged in his brother Edgar’s hand to himself. In the letter, Edgar presumably laments the fact that his father is still alive. He expresses his desire to possess his father’s lands and possessions, and he vows to share these goods with his brother. The letter expresses the opinion that when parents reach old age, they should give up everything they own to their children.
What does Edmund suggest his father should do to confirm the contents of the letter? Edmund conceives a situation in which his father can secretly overhear a conversation between his sons.
What do Gloucester’s and Edmund’s comments about the constellations of the stars reveal about their individual beliefs in the power of the stars or fate? Gloucester expresses his belief that the constellations of the stars are responsibly for the mischief that is happening in the world. he associates Edgar’s presumed conspiracy and other recent events in the kingdom with “late eclipses in the sun and moon.” Edmund, on the other hand, does not believe that the stars influence human existence. He recognizes that many people, including his father, look to the stars for answers instead of taking personal responsibility for their actions and for the events that occur around them.
Where does Edmund send his brother Edgar as the scene draws to a close? Edmund invites Edgar to his house where he promises him shelter and protection from their father’s wrath.
What concerns about Lear’s intentions does Goneril express during her conversation with Oswald? Goneril fears that even though Lear has divided his kingdom and given up his power, he will continue to demand control and authority. Goneril compares her father to an old man who acts like a child and must be treated accordingly. She uses the analogy to justify her disrespectful behavior and her subsequent decisions.
Whom does Goneril decide to contact by letter at the end of the scene, and why? Goneril vows to write to her sister to ensure that both of them are on the same page when it comes to the treatment of their father. She wants to ensure that Regan, too, does not want their father to regain any degree of power and authority. In writing a letter, she takes the first step in developing the filial conspiracy against Lear.
How does Kent’s disguise support the theme of sight and insight? The banished Kent assumes a disguise and subsequently offers his services to Lear. He knows that Lear does not want to see “Kent” again, but he hopes that he can still be of service to the former King. Kent wants to prove his loyalty to Lear by serving him and offering him valuable advice, even if he does not receive credit as the former Kent. The disguise Kent assumes supports the theme of sight and insight by demonstrating that Lear must learn not to judge people according to their exterior appearances and superficial behaviors. Lear has banished Kent rashly based on a hasty decision, but he eagerly accepts the disguised Kent into his service, because Kent’s loyalty and good character remain unchanged.
Why does Kent trip Oswald? Kent wants to teach Oswald a lesson, because Oswald treats Lear with disrespect. Oswald does not listen to Lear’s commands and treats him like his “lady’s father” rather than the King or an authority figure. Kent also trips Oswald because he wants Lear to recognize his loyalty; he wants to gain Lear’s trust and respect.
What wisdom does the Food express about possessions on the one hand and about “nothing” on the other hand? The Fool indicated that Lear was wrong to give up control over his kingdom. He believes that Lear falsely relied on the goodwill of his daughters. Now that Lear must realize that his daughters do not allow him to retain a certain degree of authority and power, he must recognize that he has lost all of his possessions and lands. All that is left is “nothing”.The Fool also asks Lear “Can you make no use of nothing, nuncle?” This question likely refers to Act 1, scene 1, when Cordelia is banished because she offers “nothing” to her father. The Fool suggests that the “nothing” Cordelia had to offer is, in fact, more valuable than any material goods or lands. Cordelia’s “nothing” was her avowal of true affection and undying love.
Why is Lear angry at Goneril? Goneril is criticizing the behavior of Lear’s followers. She claims that his knights are behaving in an unruly, loud, and disruptive manner. She has therefore decided to send away fifty of Lear’s followers and demands that only a few remain and behave in an orderly fashion. Goneril also criticizes the behavior of Lear’s Fool.
What do Lear’s hundred of knights come to represent in this scene? Why is Goneril’s threat to send fifty away such an important issue? Lear’s hundred knights represent Lear’s status and authority as king. To diminish his retinue is to diminish his authority. The irony is that Lear abdicated all of his authority when he gave his land and his power to his daughters.
What is Lear’s curse on Goneril? Lear calls on the gods to make Goneril sterile so that she can never experience the joys of having a grateful child. He contends that, if Goneril must have a child, it should be deformed and a cause of pain, worry, and concern rather than pleasure and happiness.
What does Goneril’s reaction to Lear’s curse reveal about her character? Goneril entirely disregards Lear’s severe curse. She shows virtually no emotional reaction upon hearing her father’s condemning words but remains cold and unmoved. her behavior reveals her heartless and unfeeling character.
What does Lear vow to do in the face of Goneril’s behavior an dhow realistic are his threats? Lear vows to appeal to his other daughter Regan for help, shelter, support, and justice. He also threatens to re-assume his royal power and revenge Goneril by stripping her of the power and lands he had originally assigned to her. At this point, Lear still feels strong and does not realize that his decision to divide his kingdom was final and cannot be reversed.
What does Goneril command Oswald to do at the close of the scene and why? Goneril asks Oswald to carry a letter to her sister Regan in which she explains everything that has occurred between her and her father. She wants to press Regan to deny their father the same privileges she has denied him. Goneril is concerned that Regan may allow Lear to retain all of his knights, and she fears that she may then be the “evil” daughter in the eyes of their father. Assuring that Regan is on the same page as her sister when it comes to the treatment of Lear is one of the recurring elements of the filial conspiracy plot.
Where does Lear send Kent? Lear sends Kent to Gloucester with letters that explain the treatment he has received from Goneril. Lear hopes to receive better treatment from Regan once he meets her at Gloucester’s castle.
What does the Fool criticize in his statement to Lear, “thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise”? The Fool knows that Lear gave up his kingdom and his power prematurely. He criticizes Lear for acting rashly. The Fool’s comment aslo indicates his belief that old age and wisdom do not always go hand in hand. Although Lear was approaching old age, he did not yet possess wisdom and self-knowledge. Thus, he made the wrong decision in splitting up his kingdom.
What is significant about Lear’s “prayer” not to go mad? First, this foreshadow’s Lear’s later madness. Secondly, it establishes that Lear’s madness will be the result of, and will mirror, the lack of order and “rightness” in the natural world, as evidenced by his daughters treatment of their father.
When Oswald is rude to him, Lear asks “O, you sir, come you hither, sit: who am I, sir?” Oswald answers “My lady’s father.” Lear is instantly enraged, and begins spitting curses at Oswald. What answer was Lear expecting to hear, if not “My lady’s father”? Lear was expecting Oswald to be respectful to him, rather Oswald was rude, and King Lear became angered. He was expecting to here how he wad the king, and he was downgrading Lear.
While most people look forward to retirement, research indicates that a surprisingly high number become clinically depressed upon retiring. Why do you think this might be? They have much more time on their hands and don’t have something to go do that distracts them everyday. In King Leaers case, they can lose the power and give their job to someone else. He feels like he doesn’t have a purpose.
At one point, Lear asks his fool “Dost thou call me fool, boy?” The Fool replies with “All thy other titles thou has given away.” What is the Fool reminding Lear of? How do we know that Lear needs to be reminded? The fool is reminding Lear that he is no longer king by saying that he has lost other titles, and that he does not hold power anymore. Lear disrespects his daughters, and gave up his crown and all other authorities.
Consider what was discussed above: that, as adults, our jobs come to form the buljk of our identites. What relevance does this have to the quote below, spoken by Lear? Doth any here know me? This is not Lear: Doth Lear walk thus? Speak thus? Where are his eyes? Either his notion weakens, his discernings are lethardied- Ha! Waking? ‘Tis not so. Who is it that can tell me who I am? Lear was used to being the King and having many benefits, so when he retired, he thought his benefits would follow. The people did not recognize Lear as king, which was what he was defined as. Lear doesn’t have something that defines him so he asks people to identify him. Lear is yelling at the knights, and is called Lear’s shadow. Lear is now a fool.
If you were directing a stages version of King Lear, what tone would you have the actor portraying Lear use to deliver the lines quoted in #4? Should Lear sound angry here? Baffled? Sad? Sarcastic? Some other way? I would have him use an agry tone. The reason for is because he is mad that he no longer has the power that he used to, and is starting to realize his mistake. Lear was questioning, and also because he gave his job away.

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