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What are examples of the destruction of the personal old order in Act One of King Lear?

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dianaphan | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 6, 2012 at 3:00 PM via web

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What are examples of the destruction of the personal old order in Act One of King Lear?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 7, 2012 at 5:59 AM (Answer #1)

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I think that you can see much of the personalized notions of the old order destroyed in the first scene.  When Lear asks his daughters to express their love for their father, in itself, this is a destruction of the personal order whereby trust was placed in expressions of love.  Needing to articulate them publicly was something that was not needed.  Yet, Lear himself begins the process of destroying the old order of emotional attachments in seeking a quantification and qualification of a child's love towards their father.  Regan and Goneril do their part in the destruction of the personal order of being in falsely telling their father how much they love him and then engage in duplicitous planning to usurp his kingdom and abandon him. The elder sisters do much in terms of engaging in a mockery of a child's love for a father, reflecting how the personal order has been inverted and thus destroyed.  Cordelia seeks to honor what is past, and, in the process, finds that she is banished for speaking honestly, another example of the personal old order destroyed.  Truth has become falsehood and lies have become the new truth, a reflection of how affairs of the heart have morphed into political manipulations. Shakespeare shows the relationship between Lear and his daughters in the opening scene is one where the old order is destroyed for this new and uncertain vision of what is.  What was is no longer viable, something that Lear, Regan, and Goneril all willingly participate in destroying.

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