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Close Analysis of Act 3 Scene 4 of King Lear

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Looking closely at Lear's Speech in Act III, Scene IV (lines 6-33), how is the tragic genre of disorder in 'King Lear' developed further? You should make a close reading of the speech, as well as draw on your wider knowledge of the play. Shakespeare's language portrays tragedy and disorder in King Lear in many ways, especially in the context of developing the idea of disorder in Act 3, Scene 4. The Oxford Dictionary defines disorder in three ways, all of which are portrayed in King Lear. The definition is as follows: "a lack of order; confusion, the disruption of peaceful and law-abiding behaviour [and/or] (Medicine) a disruption of normal physical or mental functions."1 The overall purpose of Act 3 is: to juxtapose events preceding events; outline the action of a single stormy night and chart Lear's descent in to madness and much of this scene on Lear's mental disintegration. In Act 3 Scene 4, Lear is a broken man in a fragile state who is seeking mental redemption from the storm which can be interpreted as from the Gods. He isn't bothered about his physical state and more concerned about his mental anguish. This contrasts with the strong and powerful king who is depicted in Act 1 and 2. ...read more.


This is opposed to the domestic tragedy with more precise instruction on props and stage directions. Shakespeare portrays what a domestic tragedy does in his language rather than physical setting. The word 'scarce' shows that he is left with nothing as a result of the 'greater malady' in which he can't fix and shows that the smaller problems; like wanting to retire at the beginning of the play and still wanting to remain in power, are put in perspective as larger ones arise; for example being abandoned by his family and in effect being denounced as king. This emphasises a disruption of peaceful behaviour because given the power to rule his kingdoms in Act 1 Scene 1, Gonerill and Regan 'shun' Lear out of his kingdom. Furthermore in this analogy he likens himself to the bear or how he should acted more bear like: in the sense that bears are protective and therefore loving towards their young. This idea appeal to the theme of trust which runs throughout the play and shown with a variety of characters and points of action. This lack of protection portrayed in the metaphor of a bear also refers to the banishment of Cordelia because he is banishing her into the unknown: "[Lear] the mysteries of Hecate, and the night; /Here I disclaim all my paternal care,.../Hold thee, from this, forever." ...read more.


The emphasis is on confusion when he conflicts himself to later in the extract:"Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all,--/O, that way madness lies; let me shun that;" which shows the theme of madness because he addresses himself in the third person and is self pitying himself a result of his vulnerable state. 'Let me shun that' emphasizes revenge with repetition of the word 'shun' and doesn't take blame for his actions. The speech also shows Lear's vulnerability with the lack of power: "When the mind's free, /The body's delicate: the tempest in my mind/Doth from my senses take all feeling else" this appeals to the theme of aging because his body being delicate opening his mind to senility or realization of the conspiracies against him. A quote that relates with this is before the extract starts "Wilt break my heart?" which emphasizes his vulnerability because the people he trusts most have betrayed him and in his state of mind he feels he needs to ask Kent will he do the same. This makes the audience sympathize with Lear's emotions and predicament and also conveys the stereotypical tragic genre especially in Shakespearean time because even though he is portrayed in a way that conveys a quite ruthless dictator with a great deal of power at the beginning of the play the loss of his possessions, family and sanity makes the audience sympathize with him and his grief. ...read more.

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