Ellb3 King Lear Theme of Power

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Explore the ways in which Shakespeare presents attitudes to power in this passage. In your answer you must consider how the playwright uses literary, linguistic and rhetorical devices and conventions to create specific dramatic effects.

The theme of power is explored extensively in the play and in this first scene the theme is already established. This scene takes place after Kent and Gloucester's conversation about Gloucester's illegitimate son Edmund, the dark subplot within the play draws out the theme of power in the main plot, for example the power Gloucester asserts as a father is parallel to the power King Lear has. Power is an important theme within the play because many of the characters abuse their power and use power as a tool for manipulation and control, other characters on the other hand, desire power and authority but ultimately power corrupts all.

This scene is set in the king’s court and this extract is an example of family talk which at times is intimate but it is also an example of public talk, the language in this passage is purely for regulatory and performative purposes. This highly formal public context creates tension and the speech itself opens with an important topic, the audience know that king Lear intends to divide his power and kingdom among his three daughters but demands they publicly profess their love for him. "Conferring them on younger strengths, while we unburdened crawl toward death", the imagery in the opening of the scene here is of a feeble old man indicating King Lear's retirement and the loss of his power suggesting he is weak and vulnerable like an infant. Due to the public context the register throughout this passage is formal and the king’s speech appears to be rehearsed.

In this passage the king is the primary speaker because he establishes the topic of conversation and sets the agenda, “meanwhile we should express our darkest purpose, give me the map there”. As we would expect his is the character with...
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