Summary: King Lear | 9781903436592 | R A Foakes

Summary: King Lear | 9781903436592 | R A Foakes Book cover image
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Read the summary and the most important questions on King Lear | 9781903436592 | edited by R.A. Foakes.

  • 1 The Themes

  • 1.1 Injustice

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  • 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

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  • 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?

    - panic

    - 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 

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