The Connotations of Authority in 'King Lear'
Start writing a post

The Connotations of Authority in 'King Lear'

The scattered connotations of authority in scene one of King Lear are worth a second look.

The Connotations of Authority in 'King Lear'

When King Lear first enters the play, he is shown amongst his daughters and their attendants; his authority as a father is conveyed as well as his power as king. Therefore, before he even speaks, he is presented as an influential character. This reality is also conveyed by the fact that the first characters we meet are ones talking about King Lear; not the King himself. His entrance is thus more anticipated and more importance is portrayed regarding his character.

As Lear announces that he will be diving the kingdom into three parts, his power as king is, again, illustrated; however, the end of his authority is also foreshadowed. A reason he gives for the division of the kingdom is so that he may "unburdened crawl towards death" (Shakespeare 1:1:43). He understands that his reign will eventually come to an end due to his old age and impending death, so he is taking precautions in the present moment to prepare for the inescapable reality that is to come.

King Lear asks each daughter to state how much she loves him. He speaks, "which of you shall we say doth love us most" (Shakespeare 1:1:56), thus putting his daughters in an uncomfortable position. By asking this question, Lear appears to be exploiting his authority. He creates a competition amongst his daughters, characterizing himself as a subpar father, which foreshadows his later disownment of Cordelia.

Doing so is unjust on King Lear's behalf, as Cordelia does not deny love for her father. She simply says, "my love's more ponderous than my tongue" (Shakespeare 1:1:87). She prefers to love him silently than to proclaim her love. However, Lear finds this unacceptable and makes the rash decision to "disclaim all [his] paternal care" (Shakespeare 1:1:125). The action suggests corrupt power.

Although King Lear is superior to Kent in terms of authority, Kent is presented as the more moral man. He tries to speak to Lear logically, even after Lear scolds, "Kent, on thy life, no more" (Shakespeare 1:1:174). Kent attempts to be rational, even under the condition of his own life. Therefore, it is conveyed that authority is not necessarily parallel to righteousness.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Ask Your BFF These 20 Questions To See If They Know You As Well As You THINK That They Do

Ask your best friend these basic questions to see just how well they know you.

Ask Your BFF These 20 Questions To See If They Know You As Well As You THINK That They Do

My best friend has been in my life since we were 3 years old, now that we are adults now, I'd like to ask her these questions to see how well she knows me.

Keep Reading... Show less

Alone At The Met

I survive a day alone in NYC.

Wikimedia Commons

It was six in the evening. I was sitting in the courtyard of a Renaissance-era Italian villa, glancing around at the statues, most notably one of a boy removing a thorn from his foot. Despite the supposedly relaxing setting, I was incredibly anxious. My phone was at less than 5 percent battery, and once it died I would be completely disconnected from my family and peers, alone in one of the largest art museums in the country.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

College 101: How To Ease The Back To School Blues

Getting back into the school groove when you just can't seem to let go of summer.

Beyond The States

With fall classes just beginning, many of us find ourselves struck with summer withdrawals. Especially for those who refrained from taking courses over the summer, it can be quite difficult to get back in the swing of things. Fortunately, there are various ways to help make the transition back to college as smooth as possible.

Keep Reading... Show less
Dating Apps

We Met At A Bar

Salvage what you can; if you can't, it's alright to walk away.

We Met At A Bar
Anne Waldon

We met at a bar.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Mets And Me

They may be the worst sometimes, but this baseball team has given me more than I could ask for.

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

On September 3rd, 2001, a sea of children littered my home's navy-carpeted den to watch baseball during my dad's 40th birthday extravaganza. A baseball game flickered on the TV, and a red and blue bubble of a scoreboard sat in the bottom right corner of the screen. The New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies were in a wild game at Veterans' Stadium. As I, a five-year-old boy with a jumble of curly blonde hair, sat in the back of the kid clump, I wondered which team I should root for. After a long debate with myself, I decided that I should root for the team that's winning (duh). But, as the ninth inning rolled around with the Phils maintaining a 7-5 lead, some magic occurred. The Mets put up five runs in one frame, stunning the Phillie fans in the room and winning the game 10-7.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments