- This summary
- +380.000 other summaries
- A unique study tool
- A rehearsal system for this summary
- Studycoaching with videos
A snapshot of the summary - King Lear
1 The Themes
What can we say about Lear's view on justice throughout the play?
- At the beginning of the play he imposes his own justice = acts as if he is God
- Then goes onto believe that there is a divine right of Kings
- Then there is no justice
Some argue that there is a divine justice in the play, what supports and what refutes this?
Supports - the deaths of Edmund, Goneril and Regan
Against - the death of Cordelia = ABSENCE OF DIVINE JUSTICE
What is the problem regarding the character's relationship with the gods?
Different characters try to account for what happened through the Gods
Their lack of knowledge - Lear asks the question, "why do dogs have life etc" but it has no answer. = the play suggests there is no Gods/ a pessimistic view of the gods "Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them so that heaven's vault should crack" p. 385
1.3 Disorder/ division
What general divisions occur throughout the play?
- Division of the kingdom
- Division between father and child
- Division between those who are against and those who support Lear (Kent and Gloucester never stop calling Lear the king = their instinct is loyalty)
What 5 things does the storm symbolise? What technique is used when describing this cataclysmic storm?
- disorder of everything we know
- the natural world has turned in on itself
- vengeance for human fault
- the monumental scale of nature and of King Lear that cannot be constrained by social notions of morality or justice
= pathetic fallacy - symbolising a cataclysmic scale to the tragic destruction.
What does the caos of the kingdom lead to?
Lear's undignified downfall.
What is important to note regarding children overpowering their fathers? What do G & R use Lear's insanity for?
it is UNNATURAL. They use his insanity as an excuse for their cruelness - degrade him to the lowest form of humanity even in the mist of a storm (he is an 80 year old man in mortal danger) - “Shut up your doors. He is attended with a desperate train”
Why is the idea of the loyal being punished a recurring theme in the play?
Echo of Cordelia and Kent's banishment as well as Gloucester's torture. = disorder causes tragedy to the innocent.
Describe the chaos of Lear's mind.
Early stages of insanity - he undergoes extreme denial as his authority begins to slip = as his power erodes so does his sanity e.g. when Lear strikes Goneril's steward demonstrating he cannot control his lack of power.
Extreme madness when he challenges the storm.
What 2 forms does Shakespeare present disorder?
Literal and metaphorical