King Lear King Lear Themes

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King Lear King Lear Themes Powered By Docstoc
					King Lear
   Cordelia has nothing to say to her father
    when he requests she praise him with her
   King Lear has nothing to give Cordelia
    because she has no words for him.
   Kent has no job because he disagreed
    with King Lear.
   Burgundy has no wife because Cordelia
    comes with no dowry.
   Edmund has no title and will do anything to get
   Goneril, Regan, & Edmund have no morals
   Gloucester has no eyes
   Edgar has nobody he can trust
   It is unnatural that King Lear would give up his
    land and authority before he died.
   Gloucester committed an unnatural act by
    committing adultery under the stars.
   When many characters can literally see, they are
    figuratively blind BUT when they are literally blind, they
    can, for the first time, figuratively see
   King Lear is figuratively blind to the fact that Goneril and
    Regan are lying to him about how much they love him
   King Lear is figuratively blind to the fact that Cordelia
    truly loves him
   King Lear is figuratively blind to the fact that Kent only
    has his best interest at heart.
   Gloucester is figuratively blind to the fact that Edmund is
    dishonest and the fact that Edgar is always faithful
   Albany is figuratively blind to the fact that
    Goneril is an evil woman because of his
    great devotion to her.
   Gloucester is literally blinded because
    Cornwall, Regan, and Goneril consider him
    a traitor for helping King Lear after they
    threw Lear out into the tempest.
Ingratitude of Others
   Goneril & Reagan are ungrateful for all their
    father has given them
   King Lear is ungrateful for being taken care of
    by his daughters
   Burgundy is ungrateful for the gift of Cordelia
    which he was offered
   Edmund is ungrateful for the fact that his father
    loves him and accepts him as a legitimate son
Appearances vs Reality
   At the beginning of the play, the Lears
    and other characters are presented as
    normal and caring. But as Shakespeare
    rubs away the pretty veneers of the
    characters, we find greed, betrayal, lust
    for power, and cruelty. In other words,
    they are anything but normal and caring.
   King Lear is disloyal to Cordelia, yet she is loyal
    to King Lear
   King Lear is disloyal to Kent, yet he is loyal to
    King Lear
   Goneril & Regan are disloyal to King Lear and he
    treats them poorly too.
   Goneril is disloyal to Albany, yet he is loyal to
    her until he discovers her attempt on his life.
   Gloucester is disloyal to Edgar, yet Edgar
    remains loyal to Gloucester
   Edmund is disloyal to Gloucester, yet Gloucester
    is loyal to Gloucester
   Edmund is disloyal to both Goneril and Regan.
   Greed and lust result in the character’s downfall
   Duke of Cornwall has Kent placed in the stocks
    and Gloucester’s eyes plucked out so towards the
    end of the play, he is killed.
   Lear banishes Cordelia and Kent then so Lear
    driven out into the storm by his own wicked
   Q: How is justice served for Cordelia?
   Being a good host is essential during the
    Elizabethan era…do you remember Capulet?

   Goneril and Regan are not gracious hosts

   King Lear is not a good guest

   Cornwall and Regan are not good guests whilst
    in Gloucester’s home.
      Madness and Insanity
   The inclusion of madness and insanity in the
    play is Shakespeare’s comment on Elizabethan
    society and the clear lack of morality during this
   It is especially significant that those characters
    who go mad are of great nobility. Thus, a
    comment on the ignorance of the monarchy and
    the lack of concern the monarchy has for lower
    class society.
   Also, note that characters such as Mad Tom and
    the Fool are representative of the unrecognized
    wisdom of the lower class.
   The storms act as pathetic fallacy. When the
    tempest is in full force, it is a reflection of the
    inner turmoil/torment that King Lear is forced to
   The nature of the stars, under which Edmund is
    conceived, dictates that illegitimate children will
    be as evil as the Elizabethans believed astrology
    and witchcraft to be.
   Both King Lear and Gloucester live rich lives,
    with no understanding of the suffering those
    living in poverty experience on a daily basis. It
    is only after all has been taken from these two
    men that they finally feel guilty for ignoring the
    plight of the poor and forgotten.

   Once King Lear and Gloucester recognize the
    error of their ways, they feel such great grief
    and guilt for what they have done to their
    honorable children, that their betwix’d emotions
    were the ultimate cause of each of their deaths.
        Age & Wisdom
   Advanced age and wisdom do not go hand-in-
   Lear is probably about 80, but he is often
    childish in his judgments until suffering reforms
    him. Shakespeare's depiction of Lear may have
    been, in part, an attempt to discredit or satirize
    the tendency of people in Elizabethan England
    automatically to revere elders and authority
              The truth
   Telling the truth can deeply wound the
    listener as well as the speaker.
   Cordelia wins our admiration because she
    is forthright and sincere. However, her
    honesty offends her father, and he
    disowns her.
   The Earl of Kent, a loyal subject of Lear,
    suffers banishment for speaking up for

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