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King Lear - Dramatic Impact

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Consider how Shakespeare creates dramatic impact in this extract. Focus closely on the literary and linguistic techniques used. Act 5 scene 3 lines 256-326 The final scene in the play offers the audience closure, and could be seen as the climax to events. The extract begins with death already a clear undertone to proceedings; with Cordelia being dead in Lear's arms. Shakespeare creates an impact through the use of the characters themselves, the action that occurs in the extract, the situation that unfolds and the tension built up during these situations. The extract begins with Lear drawing attention upon himself with the use of repetition and exclamatives 'Howl, howl, howl, howl!' this gives an immediate impact and tension with regards to what is to follow. The words are particularly interesting as they not only express Lear's anguish, but also have an imperative feel to them, especially with the exclamation giving the impression of a command. ...read more.


Shakespeare also uses irony such as 'Cordelia,Cordelia, stay a little'. It is ironic that in the first act Lear dismisses Cordelia and know the situation has been subverted, and he is left willing her to breathe. The whole situation of Cordelia dying in her fathers arms creates a strong sense of pathos which would be highly impacting for the audience. More so an Elizabethan audience who are not accustomed to witnessing such an ending, during that time it was more common for poetic justice to be served and the 'good hearted' characters to live while the evil characters perish. The final speech by Lear is what I believe to be the most saddening and yet enlightening parts of the whole play. He questions ' Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life'. This again questions the way in which the gods are working through the use of animal imagery, giving an idea that Lear has lost faith in religion. ...read more.


The different images and attitudes exposed as the extract closes comes together to create a memorable and impacting scene. The most interesting aspect of the extract is the use of repetition to portray grief and madness. Goffmans theory of 'face' was useful in seeing how Lear loses 'face' as he is taken over by grief and how other characters such as Kent never lose 'face' or loyalty. Aristotle's version of tragedy was also important is spotting the clear sense of pathos created. Harmartia was also particularly striking in Lear as he chose to blame others for what was originally his actions. In deconstructing the extract I drew on possible paralinguistics that could be seen in other performances such as in a modern version of King Lear in which Lear is kneeling down, appearing very weak. I also drew on literary techniques by examining imagery, style and language and linguistic models by analysing grammar and connotations of the words. Overall my understanding and interpretation of the extract was based on both literary and linguistic approaches. ...read more.

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