VIEWS: 25 PAGES: 14 POSTED ON: 8/9/2012
King Lear: Act 1V & V Act 1V Sc 7 • Cordelia salutes Kent’s loyalty to Lear • Propitious mood is established by mutual affection and esteem. Scene of pathos and renewal. Sleep, music have powerful healing properties. Sense of restoration is heightened. • Seeks to waken him with a kiss • Fairy tale element but no happy endings • Cordelia greets him as a king • Kneels humbly before him p354 Act 1V Sc 7 • Reunion between father and daughter • Sublime, supreme moment p355 • Lear shows awareness of madness • Fresh garments symbolize his restoration • Radical change - will even listen to ‘Poison’ if it comes from Cordelia • C is nobly generous ‘no cause’ • Discord, chaos to harmony and order • Cordelia and Lear walk together – reunited which inspires hope for the King and kingdom Act V Sc 1 • Edmund in command yet devisiveness evident. Critical of Albany ‘He’s full of alteration’ • Regan – more concerned with acquiring Edmund. They are about to face battle but she allows her jealousy to dominate her • Loathing for her sister reaches feverish pitch as her hostility intensifies • Goneril equally skewed in her values ‘I had rather lose the battle’ line 19 • Albany torn between doing what is right and fighting off invading force • Regan determined G should not be alone with Edmund Act V Sc 1 • Edgar still in disguise gives a letter - from G to Edmund- to Albany • Implies an affair has been going on • Edmund’s soliloquy makes it clear that the sisters have been pawns in his game • Machiavellian view of Albany – he will serve a purpose and then be disposed of • Evil intensifies he will never pardon Lear and Cordelia. ‘Defend not debate’! Act V Sc 2 • Edgar contrasts with the cruel malcontent Edmund. He is steadfast and provides antidote to evil and pessimism – ‘Give me thy hand’ • Lear and C have lost the battle and been captured • G sinks into another depression but Edgar rallies him around ‘Men must endure’ Act V Sc 3 • Edmund in control and Lear and Cordelia are his prisoners • C desperate to console Lear but he longs for prison where they will be alone • Lear grasps finally how superficial court life is and reassures C – redeeming himself as a good parent • Albany wants Justice and asks that L & C be safely delivered to him for safekeeping • Edmund argues that is not the best action as they will ‘pluck common bosom on his side’p368 • Albany calls Ed inferior ‘a subject…not a brother’ • R & G squabble over Edmund • Albany arrests Ed for treason and condemns his wife and sister this adds new dimension to his character. He sees absurdity of situation and asserts his control. Act V Sc 3 • Regan is poisoned by Goneril. Their evil viciousness reaches climax as they turn on one another. Absurd if it was not for their venom. • Edmund accepts challenge of duel. • Regan is taken away ill • Microcosm of the battle between good/evil that has dominated the play as Edgar as a masked warrior takes up challenge to fight. ‘draw thy sword’. P374 • Edgar’s victory as he conquers the ‘toad spotted traitor’ demonstrates the restoration of virtue. • Edmund confesses and is softened as he recognises wheel of fate ironic as he initially scorned this. • Edgar force for justice even if it is ‘rough’ regrets he did not reveal himself sooner as Glouc dies from joy/grief. • G & R final act of treachery – G having poisoned R turns the knife on herself. p382 Act V Sc 3 • Bodies brought on to the stage in a strange tableaux of death. Usually they are trying to remove them from the stage! All three daughters will be dead at the end. • Albany can’t bear to look at them ‘cover their faces’. • Edmund attempts to save L & C as he and G have given orders that C should hang and they will say she committed suicide! Edmund is removed to die. p385 • Lear’s entry is a painful contrast to his regal procession in Act 1 • Murder of C is a hideous climax to the cruelty that runs through the play. • Regeneration is blasted all is bleak and sterile but Lear has redeemed himself – at what cost? Act V Sc 3 • Edmund’s death (p389) is ‘but a trifle here’ but his evil influence is clearly felt as he is responsible for the royal deaths as well as his father’s fate. His own death is richly deserved even if he does try to redeem himself. • Albany reasserts moral values that have become so skewed and rises to lofty height. • In L’s closing lines we witness the cracking of his heart and mind. Immense pathos as he fumbles with the absurdity of life and death.390 • Lear dies possibly believing C is alive – reunited at last? ‘look her lips’. • Edgar and Kent have the final words – K’s stoicism is moving as he anticipates his own death and a reunion with Lear. There is reassurance in Edgar’s final words as he gives reverence to the old while showing a humble, self-effacing face of the young. Carrying C’s mantle perhaps. Critical Reviews - C17th • Although King Lear does not seem to have been as popular as Hamlet or Macbeth we can assume that the play was well received as it was performed for James 1. • It was rewritten by Naham Tate in 1681 as he felt the ending was far too gloomy. His version included a happy ending – Lear does not die and E & C are united romantically. 18th Century • Joseph Warton 1753 agreed with Tate as he reckoned Gloucester’s blinding was too horrid to be exhibited on stage and the daughters were too savage and diabolical to be credible. He accepted the way in which ‘ the wicked prosper and the virtuous miscarry’ because of verisimilitude. • Samuel Johnson 1768 – found C’s death deeply shocking and took Shakespeare to task for the lack of justice at the end of the play. C19th • By the end of the century after mixed reviews Victorian critics saw a grandeur and strength in the play it was recognised as a great literary achievement. • Brandes believed the play as a whole portrayed ‘ the titanic tragedy of human life’. Swinburne was struck by the dark fatalism of Shakespeare’s vision. C20th • A.C. Bradley – A Shakespearean tragedy is the tragedy of an individual who suffers as he comes to terms with his personality. Bradley made many criticisms of King Lear however he conceded that the play was ‘one of the world’s greatest love poems’. • Wilson Knight – ‘Mankind is deliberately tormented by the Gods’. ‘The tragedy is most poignant in that it is purposeless and unreasonable’.
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