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AS and A Level: King Lear
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Writing about tragedy in 'King Lear'
- 1 While reference to Aristotle’s ‘guidelines’ on tragedy is valid, remember that Shakespeare had not actually read the ‘Poetics’ in which Aristotle’s views are expressed. These were not published in England until a later date.
- 2 Consider why there are comic scenes, such as those with the Fool, in tragedies.
- 3 Does Lear have one ‘tragic flaw’ or several?
- 4 Is Lear’s the only tragic outcome in the play? Consider others, such as Gloucester, Cordelia, Kent.
- 5 Spell ‘tragedy’ and ‘tragic’ correctly.
Five recurring patterns, references or motifs in 'King Lear' that you need to consider when writing your essay
- 1 Blindness.
- 2 Madness.
- 3 Parent/child relationships.
- 4 Honesty/dishonesty.
- 5 Clothing/nakedness.
Key themes of 'King Lear'
- 1 Justice.
- 2 Authority and power.
- 3 Self knowledge.
- 4 Compassion.
- 5 Apperance versus reality.
- Marked by Teachers essays 6
Also in the first scene of the play, the way that other characters address Lear shows his authority. They perform his wishes and address him with formal titles. When Lear issues his command to Gloucester his immediate response is "I shall, my Lord". This shows the respect the characters have to show towards the King, emphasising his power. The characters also use flattery when addressing Lear, which shows his power as they are trying to stay in his favour by appealing to his ego. When Kent tries to make Lear realise his error in dismissing Cordelia, he addresses him as "Royal Lear, whom I have ever honoured as my king, loved as my father", which combines flattery with respect to try and win Lear over to Kent's way of thinking.
- Word count: 2822
His role had established characteristics and responsibilities. Among them the Fool had license to roam the stage and interact with the audience often joking and talking directly to them. He had great popularity with the audience of the time, with his role a bridge between the action on stage and the audience's own experience. Today it may be thought of as 'low comedy', but in its day it was welcomed. Shakespeare exploited the aspect of the Fool to make him a major character in the play as well as a commentator on the action, much the way the chorus functioned in a Greek tragedy.
- Word count: 2163