In Shakespeare’s play King Lear he has employed many techniques to engage the Jacobean audience for which it was intended as well as the modern audience. A variety of linguistic techniques, themes, characters and dramatic devices are used in the play which engages both audiences. All these devices are used within the opening scene of the play and it is clear why Shakespeare has been able to captivate both audiences. The themes that Shakespeare has contrived are ones that continue to reoccur throughout the opening scene. Like all Shakespeare’s plays there is a constant sense of good vs. evil. This can be seen via that character Cordelia who is good and Edmund who is evil. This constant battle of conflicting emotions and morals is an intriguing technique by Shakespeare that captivates both Jacobean and modern audiences. Such examples of these differences ‘I love your majesty according to my bind, no more nor less’ Although this might see harsh words by Cordelia she speaks true of her love to her father representing the honest and realistic character. Cordelia’s character is directly contrasted by that of Edmond. He is constantly lying in order for himself to climb the social ladder, for is ‘bastarding’ of birth he blames his father and seeks revenge on the world and will do anything that stands in his way to get there ‘My father compounded my mother under the dragon’s tail, and my nativity was under Ursa Major’ This quote directly links Edmond’s hatred for his father’s actions that led to him being a bastard son. During this quote Edmond is the only character on stage, this allows the audience to see what Edmond it truly thinking and plotting. Use of dramatic irony empowers both audiences giving them a better perspective on the character idea’s and in Edmonds case his plan’s of action ‘This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeits of our own behaviour’ This tells of how Edmond believes he has had poor fortune and believes that if he wants to become recognised he must do it by his own devices. In this soliloquy Edmond’s true Machiavellian is revealed as are his intentions. We are able to see why he uses his manipulative powers to achieve what he desires. Another constant theme portrayed within the opening scene is that of blindness. This metaphorical sense of blindness intrigues both types of audience into a deeper and more meaningful plot. In the opening scene King Lear can be accused of being ‘blind’ by banished his most loyal and faithful followers, Kent and Cordelia. Lear was also perceived to ‘blind’ to his two eldest daughters. Their ravishing lies’ about how much they truly loved their father more than life it’s self are completely manufactured in order to receive parts of his kingdom. As he has a highest social order King Lear should posses the ability to distinguish good from the evil. Due to his ‘blindness’ he is unable to tell that Cordelia is the one that truly loves her father unlike the cunning lies’ told by her sisters. As told by this quote he is utterly disappointed once Cordelia does not confess her love for her father ‘Nothing will come of nothing, speak again’ this both shows that Cordelia is not going to ‘put thy heart in thy mouth’ and express a false love for her father. This conflict within the family is present early on in the play and entertains the audience which is also related to the plot.
Shakespeare’s use of a variety of individual and unique character gives the audiences an interesting plot along with many contrasts and differences. In only the opening scene it is already obvious that there are many clashing of personalities and character traits. Some of the predominant ones’ are the naivety of King Lear which is again reflected in his foolish decisions to banish both Kent and his much loved daughter Cordelia. Regan and Gonerill are forms of deception to King Lear in their speeches of ‘love’ to him. There is also the integration of evil as portrayed by Edmund in his soliloquy as he describes by means of how he will bring the downfall of his brother Edgar and become the sole inheritance from Gloucester.
Through these techniques and many more Shakespeare has been able to captivate and engage both Jacobean and modern audiences in his play King Lear