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ENGL 220 King Lear Notes

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ENGL 220
Lorcan Fox

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ENGL 220 King Lear Notes  King Lear reflected era in which it was written o Indirectly explored the issues of the day o Had to be wary of criticizing because they were funded by the monarch “King’s Men”  Shakespeare wrote King Lear 2 years after James was crowned – James wanted to unite Scotland and England as one “Great Britain” – to restore ancient title and unity to the land. o King Lear dramatized what would happen in the kingdom was divided (instead of unified) o Appears conservative, but underlying subversion  King Lear wants to retain the powers of being king – the credit, he doesn’t want to give up his knights. o Act 2 Scene 4: O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars Are in the poorest thing superfluous. Allow not nature more than nature needs, Man’s life’s as cheap as beast’s . . .  In this scene he goes mad from not knowing who he is anymore  In his madness, he becomes wise and learns a lesson of human condition o Questions his identity, if not king, who is he? o Act 4 Scene 7: I am a very foolish fond old man  Gloucester – parallel to Lear o Goes blind o In a sense Lear is blind – cannot see that Goneril and Regan are evil  Aspect of Hobbes’ thinking relevant to this play o “the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”  Says that people are better under sovereign rule, surrendering autonomy  Protection from anarchy  Man’s natural state is monstrous  Act 3, Scene 4 “Unaccommodated man is no more than a poor, bare, forked animal”  Questioning if Lear is no longer King, loses his identity – does he sink to Hobbesian natural state? o Beginning of colonial era – encountering people whom in their eyes were UNNATURAL  Nihilism – nothingness, no laws, no status, no privilege; negation of meaningful aspects of life
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