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The king ismore than the physical evidence of a strong and united government. The king is God's representative on earth, and as such, serves as a model of behavior for all his subjects, who look to their king for guidance, strength, and hope.
If a king lacks the essential components of kingly behavior, and the authority that these traits embody, his subjects will, as Goneril and Regan demonstrate, turn increasingly to deception, treachery, and violence as Authority in king lear method of government.
Does Shakespeare's depiction of King Lear offer the audience a portrait of kingship, or in contrast, a portrait of kingly loss? In his first scene, Lear initially comes across as a strong ruler, although his plan to divide his kingdom among his three daughters seems rather short-sighted and self-serving.
This decision places his two strong sons-in-law, Albany and Cornwall, in charge of protecting the outlying areas of the kingdom.
But the single benefit derived from this division creates many problems. Lear is abdicating his purpose and his responsibilities, and he is also creating chaos. To achieve his goal, Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia are forced into a love test to determine their inheritance. The division of any kingdom is not without risk, but even before his action has the opportunity to create adversity, Lear establishes a competition, which complicates an already dangerous decision.
Competitions, by their very nature, result in winners and losers. Cordelia loses when she refuses to play the game, but Lear also loses when he "retires" and abdicates his kingly role. He cannot be king without a kingdom, and the country, which is to be divided into smaller principalities, will not have the unity and strength to long survive as separate units.
Civil war and insurrection are the inevitable results of Lear's actions. The love test forces Regan and Goneril into competing against the favored younger sister. Ultimately, deadly conflict arises between Lear and his older daughters, and the long-standing competition between sisters creates conflict between ruling factions, further dividing the kingdom.
Even before Cordelia's return, dissent is in the air. At this point, conflict doesn't appear to exist between Goneril and Regan, and Cordelia is out of the immediate scene as a result of her banishment. Already, though, Cornwall and Albany show signs of uneasiness, a discord with the clear potential to evolve into conflict, and perhaps, civil war.
Goneril and Regan soon unite against a common foe — their own father; but it is reasonable to assume that Goneril and Regan, having disposed of Cordelia, would have next turned their troops and anger against one another.
Certainly, Edmund was counting on this event, since he indicates he will marry whichever one survives the struggle for absolute control V. Notably, King Lear was not always the ineffectual king represented in the middle and final acts of Shakespeare's play.
In the opening of the play, Lear is the absolute ruler, as any king was expected to be in a patriarchal society such as Renaissance England.
Lear enters in Act I as the king, evoking grandeur and authority, representing God and the reigning patriarchy of kingship. The audience quickly forgets this initial impression because the love test, in all it absurdity, forces the audience into seeing Lear as a foolish, egotistical old man.
But the evidence of his greatness is seen in Kent's devotion, in the love of his Fool, and in Cordelia's love, which is sustained, in spite of Lear's rejection. By the time Shakespeare was writing King Lear, the English had survived centuries of civil war and political upheaval. The English understood that a strong country needed an effective leader to protect it from civil war and potential foreign invasion.
The strong leadership of Elizabeth I had saved England when the Spanish attempted an invasion inand much of the credit for her success was attributed to her earlier efforts to unite England and to end the religious dissention that was destroying the country. No ruler would have deliberately chosen to divide a kingdom, not after having witnessed the conflicts that had marked England's recent history.
The division of a country would have weakened it, leading to squabbles between petty lords and the absence of an effective central government and a capable means of defense.
Having only recently achieved stability in their country, Shakespeare's Elizabethan audience would have been horrified at Lear's choice to divide his kingdom, and so, create disunity. The audience would also have questioned the choice of the French king as a suitor, especially as Lear intended to give Cordelia the choice center section of his kingdom.
The audience's abject fear that a foreign king might weaken England and a Catholic monarch made it worse would have made Lear's actions seem even more irresponsible. But Lear is doing more than creating political and social chaos; he is also giving his daughters complete responsibility for his happiness, and he will blame them later when he is not happy.
All of these events create a picture of King Lear as a poor model of kingship, one who reacts emotionally and without reason.Relinquishment of Power in Shakespeare's King Lear King Lear is an actor who can only play the king. Thus, after he has abdicated his throne, passing the authority to his posterity, he still demands respect and power, which he is unable to claim from any of his former subjects, even his daughters.
Lear demands that Oswald acknowledge his presence and his status as king, or at least as the former king.
Lear’s insistence on being seen and recognized suggests that they are a part of having authority—leaders and subjects must acknowledge one another for the relationship to operate properly.
If a king lacks the essential components of kingly behavior, and the authority that these traits embody, his subjects will, as Goneril and Regan demonstrate, turn increasingly to deception, treachery, and violence as a method of government. LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in King Lear, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
At the beginning of the play, Lear is an authority figure, embodying order in his own person and commanding it from his family and followers. Although King Lear sets out to avoid family and political conflict, his decision to retire and divide his kingdom results in a major family conflict as well as a full-blown national crisis.
Without the title of "king," Lear's authority means ultimately nothing—Shakespeare's play, then, suggests that a monarch's power is completely arbitrary. Transcript of Kingship and Power in King Lear. Kingship and Power LEAR Royal We Imperatives Respectful Vocatives ‘Hence, and avoid my sight!’ after he has divided up his kingdom Lear’s power and authority is lost Lear’s Loss of Power Cordelia questions his way of dividing his kingdom and Kent warns Lear about the upcoming transfer.