Cover image of King Lear Act 1 Scene 1 Dialogue Analysis Activity

King Lear Act 1 Scene 1 Dialogue Analysis Activity

by eNotes

  • Release Date: October 07, 2019
  • Subjects: Language Arts and Literature
  • Age Levels: Grade 10, Grade 11, Grade 12, and Grade 9
  • Pages: 12
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Document Details


Through dialogue, playwrights reveal a character’s motivations, personality traits, and relationships with other characters. Diction (word choice) plays an essential role in writing dialogue because it creates mood, develops characters, and establishes events in the play. The following activity will help students analyze passages of dialogue and determine how they inform scenes in the play.

The Tragedy of King Lear, one of Shakespeare’s most critically acclaimed dramas, depicts the tangled family relationships in Lear’s royal court and the consequent suffering and destruction wrought by pride, ambition, greed, and betrayal. Determined to free himself from the demands of the monarchy while retaining his power and authority, Lear foolishly divides his kingdom between his duplicitous elder daughters, Goneril and Regan, while banishing his youngest, Cordelia, when she refuses to flatter him in exchange for his grace and favor. Lear’s pride blinds him to the truth—that of his three daughters, only Cordelia loves him. The themes developed through Lear’s relationships with his daughters are underscored in the play’s subplot as Gloucester, Lear’s friend, is betrayed by Edmund, the illegitimate son he loves and trusts. Witnessing Lear’s tragedy as it unfolds, and unable to save his foolish king, is the loyal Kent, whom Lear also banishes in a fit of rage. All the major characters, apart from Edgar, Gloucester’s legitimate son, are introduced in act 1, scene 1, and their essential character traits are quickly established in the dialogue.

Skills: character analysis, drawing inferences from text, interpreting diction for connotative meaning

Learning Objectives:
In completing this activity, students will

  • analyze passages of dialogue to identify the speaker’s character traits, conflicts, and motivations;
  • examine the diction in passages of dialogue to interpret the connotations of key words and explain how they create mood in the scene;
  • determine from passages of dialogue characteristics of the speaker’s relationship with another character in the play.


Our eNotes Classroom Activities give students opportunities to practice developing a variety of skills. Whether analyzing literary devices or interpreting connotative language, students will work directly with the text. The main components of our classroom activities include the following:

  • A handout defining the literary elements under discussion, complete with examples
  • A step-by-step guide to activity procedure
  • An answer key or selected examples for reference, depending on the activity

In completing these classroom activities, students will be able to classify and analyze different literary elements, thereby developing close-reading skills and drawing deeper inferences from the text.

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