King Lear Theme Essay

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It is often said that the opening scene or chapter of a drama sets the stage for the major themes that the reader will see throughout the book or play. This theory is proven to be true in William Shakespeare’s King Lear. The first scene in act one helped to introduce some of the themes that would be seen throughout the rest of the play like the idea of madness, reconciliation and the idea of authority versus chaos. One major theme was reconciliation. In the very beginning when Lear was asking his daughter how much they all loved him, Cordelia couldn’t come up with the right words to say that would express her feeling for her father and accused her sister of exaggerating their love for him. This really angered Lear and so he banished his once…show more content…
Lear’s madness was addressed in the very first scene and then continued to pop up quite frequently as the story went on. Kent called Lear out for being mad when he banished his daughter Cordelia after she wouldn’t tell him how much she loved him (1.1.146). He realized that Lear was being extremely unreasonable and was making this rash decision without really stopping to think about what he was doing. This is not a strange thing for Lear, he has been known to make rash decision because he is so short-tempered. In fact, after Kent tried to calm him down and have him reflect on what he was doing, Lear got angry and banished Kent as well, who was his right hand man. As the play progresses, Lear’s madness is exposed again and again. One spot in particular that really demonstrated his loosening grip on reality was in scene four of act three when after talking to Poor Tom, he ripped off his clothes (3.4.107-108). He had been talking to Poor Tom after leaving his horrible daughters at Goneril’s home, venturing into a nasty storm, and was completely unphased by the crazy things that he is telling him. This part of the play was a big moment because it captured one of the key moments in Lear’s downward spiral into insanity. His whole journey leading to his madness was foreshadowed in the very first scene and carried through all the way to the end of the
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