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Notes on King Lear Act 1 Scene 1 and Act 3 Scene 7

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King Lear INTRO ?English poet, playwright, and actor ?widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language ?unknown birthdate, baptised 26th April 1564, Warwickshire ?arguably his most celebrated/complicated play ?King Lear is written in the form of a tragedy. Structurally he gives up power and control and therefore dies low in status ? all suffer because of his misguided, selfish actions ?The titular character descends into madness after disposing of his estate between two of his three daughters based on their flattery, bringing tragic consequences for all. ?wrote in Christian in times, but set in Pagan era so he didn?t offend the King/Queen ?wrote for Elizabeth I, Henry VIII daughter ? ?divine right of Kings? ? King Lear giving up control was seen as madness ? giving up power and then realising it was a mistake ? relevant ?play encompasses all of society from ?kingship? to ?beggars? ?all based on hierarchy, patriarchy, (similar of that in both poems ?Lear represents England and what can happen when power is divided ACT 1 SCENE 1 ?establishes characters and their good/bad natures. Tragedy begins in earnest ?Lear delivers speech to Gloucester and Kent ? his advisors -on the fact he is giving up power ?a Jacobean audience would see this is as foolish; it would be political suicide in their eyes. He is devolving responsibility and the audience would see that this opening scene is foreshadowing trouble ?his speech is full of imperative language which conveys ...read more.


By doing this, Lear gives an opportunity for his daughters to take advantage of him. ?The sub plot ? Edmund (?bastard? son of the Duke of Gloucester) is lower in the hierarchy because he was conceived out of an affair. Edmund is jealous of his half-brother Edgar, because he is legitimate and therefore will inherit, and so he tries to bring about his brothers downfall. The audience hears about this when Edmund performs a soliloquy. ?Soon learn that he is a Machiavellian character because of his immoral behaviour and employment of cunningness ?at the start of his soliloquy, Edmund questions why he is treated like he is; ?Thou, Nature, art my goddess; to thy law My services are bound. Wherefore should I Stand in the plague of custom, and permit The curiosity of nations to deprive me?? He refuses to submit to the patriarchy he saw in Act 1 Scene 1. He questions why he should remain accustomed to an ancient law that destroys men like him, why he should accept it. He is very malcontent. Edmund goes on to compare himself with his older brother; ?For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines Lag of a brother? Why bastard? Wherefore base? When my dimensions are as well compact My mind as generous and my shape as true?. He believes that he should be treated with as much respect as his brother, no matter that he is a ?bastard?. ...read more.


When asked why he sent Lear to Dover, Gloucester tells them that he ?would not see thy cruel nails Pluck out his poor old eyes? and that ?All cruels else subscribed, but I shall see The winged vengeance overtake such children?. He says why he helped Lear: because he wouldn?t allow Regan and Goneril to be mean to him and take his power. ?pluck out his poor old eyes? is a very ironic statement considering the fore-coming violence. Gloucester attempts to belittle Regan and Cornwall when he says? the winged vengeance overtake such children?, however this backfires when Cornwall decides upon a violent punishment for Gloucester?s act of treason ? blinding him. The act is carried out in an animalistic way; ?Upon these eyes of thine I?ll set my foot?. Cornwall gauges out one of Gloucester?s eyes with his hands. Regan shows perverted behaviour when she says ?One side will mock another ? th?other too? ? she encourages Cornwall. He revels on this, ?let?s prevent it?, and gauges out the other eye too. The way the blinding is described emphasises how low humans can sink; ?Out, vile jelly. Where is thy lustre now??. Lustre means light, and Cornwall is mocking Gloucester here. This scene foreshadows how the power that Lear gives to Goneril and Regan makes them treacherous and deceitful. It also shows the worst of humanity and its deliberate torture and the audience see?s Regan gain pleasure from this, encourages her husband. Women gain control here but in a perverted way. ...read more.

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