Shakespeare introduces Lear in such a way that inclines us to believe that he craves attention, socialisation and respect or authority.
Shakespeare’s first line to Lear is a brash command toward Gloucester to ‘attend’ the other ‘lords’. This suggests to the audience that he is a very authoritative man.
During the speech, Shakespeare presents Lear discussing a ‘darker purpose’ while using ceremonial language – using ‘we’ and ‘our’. This may suggest Lear’s dependency on his court – he may not see himself as an individual but rather he prefers to be surrounded by his loving attendants. This certainly suggests that he may be self-absorbed as he only encircles himself with people he know must be loyal to him and listen to his every word.
As Shakespeare continue to explain that the kingdom has been ‘divided’, and that because Lear is getting old it is his ‘intent’ to ‘shake all cares’. In doing so, he gives his kingdom away confidently to the ‘younger’ people. Shakespeare uses the word ‘unburdened’ to refer to Lear as he retires – suggesting that his rank is a burden to him, which we have only known to be false as Shakespeare presents Lear as a man who commands his subjects without being grateful.
Shakespeare begins to emphasise Lear’s arrogance as he asks his daughters to ‘tell’ him who loves him ‘most’. Lear knows that this will cause his daughters to stroke his arrogance even more – which he is clearly satisfied by as he concludes with ‘where nature doth with merit challenge’, claiming that the more they claim their love the more land they get.
This speech alone contrasts greatly with Lear’s future character and behaviour – this speech is in order to highlight his inevitable downfall during the play.