What is significance of the opening scene in Shakespeare's King Lear?

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The significance of the opening scene of King Lear lies in the fact that it establishes a number of important dramatic elements that will be developed throughout the rest of the play. First and foremost, we're introduced to the dynamics of Lear's family, which will take on even greater significance as the action progresses. This is a family that's as divided as the kingdom that Lear foolishly bestows upon his daughters. These divisions will determine the fate of each member of Lear's family, including himself, and almost every other character in the play.

Allied to this is point is the matter of Lear's character, which is the catalyst for everything that happens in the play. In the fateful opening scene, it is quickly established that this is a vain man, so insecure that he needs to hear his daughters openly profess their love for him. Lear's angry rejection of Cordelia after she refuses to play along with this little facade shows us that he still demands to be treated like a king even at...

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