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/ She's dead as earth" (King Lear, 5.3.234-36), but then asks for a looking glass: .

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Kent's rough speech, especially in his attacks on Oswald, mark him as a Wyatt-like truth-teller at court. Remember what Raphael Hythloday told "More" in Utopia about the fate of those to dare to tell a supreme monarch something that displeases him (or her in the case of Elizabeth). Goneril and Regan, however, represent the "honeyed" speech of courtiers who have been trained in rhetorical ornament and sophistical strategies of persuasion. Compare their responses to Lear's demand that they tell him how much they love him in return for a piece of the kingdom in Act I, Scene 1. Do you see a cumulative building in the excesses to which Goneril will go, and then a higher level of absurdity in Regan's attempt to "top" her sister's boast. (Comparisons with boasting inBattle of Maldon and Beowulf would not be inappropriate, or a review of what Wyatt hates about court speech in "Mine Own John Poyns.") Notice how much of this ornate rhetorical build-up is designed to make even more shocking the simplicity of Cordelia's plain speech. She is universally recognized as a representative of moral and ethical norms in the play. Why is she not a good orator? Or is good oratory inherently something we should suspect? Cannot the skills of rhetoric serve the good, the right, and the true?

King Lear Passage Analysis Act IV, Scene 7 ..

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Reading James's suggestion that his grandfather may (or may not) have died in a "redemptive ecstasy," we might also recall the death of another old man: King Lear.


Shakespeare--King Lear - Goucher College

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13) T. S. Eliot argued that toward the end of the seventeenth century, a "dissociation of sensibility" occurred in English poets' minds and uses of language. “Tennyson and Browning are poets and they think; but they do not feel their thought as immediately as the odour of a rose. A thought to Donne was an experience; it modified his sensibility. When a poet’s mind is perfectly equipped for its work, it is constantly amalgamating disparate experience; the ordinary man’s experience is chaotic, irregular, fragmentary. The latter fails in love, or reads Spinoza and these two experiences have nothing to do with each other, or with the noise of the typewriter or the smell of cooking; in the mind of the poet these experiences are always forming new wholes” (T. S. Eliot, "The Metaphysical Poets," 1921). Can you use Eliot's concept of "feeling thought" to explain some of what Shakespeare is doing in ? See, for instance, blind Gloucester's response to Lear's command to see: "I see it feelingly" (IV.6.148).

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None ofShakespeare's audience would have considered openly espousing even the mildest of doubtsabout the truth of revealed Christian religion. Christopher Marlowe was investigated bythe Star Chamber Court (sort of the FBI and HUAC, combined) merely on the rumor that hemade statements in favor of atheism and homosexual love. However, Humanism and Englishtranslations had exposed a larger audience of English readers to the wisdom of Greek andRoman pagans whose polytheism we see reflected in Lear's use of oaths to Apollo andJupiter (e.g., I.1.161, 180). How would the Christian English audience understand theworld-view of a pagan king, and what difference does that make in the plot? Some authorsmanage to invoke Christian themes like charity, divine providence, sin, and final judgmentafter death, by drawing upon pagan notions from various sources which early Christianthinkers found compatible with their doctrine. Though Cordelia and Edgar get to articulatesome of these "Christianizing" pagan notions, they do not succeed inLear's world. In effect, we're shown the reigning moral doctrines of Shakespeare'stime as they spectacularly fail to control anarchy and evil. Does this increase ourcapacity to identify with Lear if we are atheists or agnostics or believers in anotherreligion, or does it diminish it if we are Christians?

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OK, you may hate him, but many readers report his refreshing directness about his ambition and his willingness to do whatever he must to succeed reminds him of modern anti-heroes who, born disadvantaged but struggling to better themselves, turn society upside down to get what others were born possessing. Audience affection for Edmund may be mingled with severe disgust when he betrays his brother and father, but even in his dying moments he seems capable of turning to the good (making him "round" rather than a purely flat Machiavellian). Contemporary audiences might have seen in him a very familiar type of person they had met at court, one we met in a previous reading where he seemed an admirable sort. Castiglioni/Hoby's Count Canossa says: "so shall our Courtier steal this grace from them that to his seeming have it, and from each one that parcel that shall be most worthy praise . . . [And] there were some most excellent orators which among other their cares enforced themselves to make every man believe that they had no sight in letters, and dissembling their cunning, made semblant their orations to be made very simply, or rather as nature and truth made them, than study and art, the which if it had been openly known would have put a doubt in the people's mind, for fear lest he beguiled them. You may see then how to show art and such bent study taketh away the grace of everything." How might Edmund's career be understood as a commentary upon the courtly practice Stephen Greenblatt has called "Renaissance self-fashioning"? Which are the characters who cannot "self-fashion" while appearing to be "natural," and do you see any who learn to do so in the course of the play? Do you see any who try to "self-fashion" but are detected in the act of doing so? What is the penalty for that failure to self-fashion or that detection in this play? For a consummate display of Edmund's , see Act 1, Scene 1, when this bastard son responds graciously to his father and to Kent just after hearing his mother publicly described as sexually pleasing and hearing his own future dismissed as a life of permanent exile.

Introduction to King Lear | King Lear | Good And Evil

The present essay does not claim, then, that Shakespeare's tragedy is an indisputable source of , but rather that there are several striking correspondences between the two texts, and that Shakespeare's tragedy is just as preoccupied with — and troubled by — the question of narrative as Conrad's novella.