Act I, Scene I

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This scene speaks volumes about Lear and his treatment of the people around him. List most people, Lear only wants to hear the things that please him. When Cordelia does not spoon feed him the lies that Goneril and Regan have, she is punished severely.

Throughout this play there were many questions that intrigued me. Why is Lear intent on destroying Cordelia simply for speaking her mind? Why does Lear threaten Kent with death for trying to reason with him?

In some way, Lear fits the mold for an elderly person suffering from dimentia. His complete lack of reasoning and adult diplomatic behavior is very unusual for a King, especially one who has apparently carried out such a successful reign.

Does Lear's age make him a victim for his daughters, Regan and Goneril? Yes. We see that they try to use his age against him later in the play, and they definately play on his hunger for attention and praise when they give their initial speeches in this scene.

Looking at the moment when Lear turns on Kent, someone only trying to advise him against being so rash and harsh towards his loving daughter Cordelia, one can clearly see the unreasonable side of Lear along with his vicious side.

Does the absence of a Queen mean anything in this story? In many ways a Queen would have, traditionally, acted as a buffer between the children and the king. Without a Queen present, Lear is free to rant, rave and roam around pretending to be powerful. Had a Queen been present, Lear would never have divided his crown as such, nor would he have given up his home.

In the end, we see that this scene builds a powerful image of Lear as a senile monster who is so full of himself and foolish that he allows the wool to be pulled over his eyes in the most obvious manner.