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king lear

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Helen Hatton

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November 15, 2010
King Lear
-Lear confuses his identity as a man with his role as a king
-his conflation with himself with his kingship, expressed by how he is using his language
-king’s words have special power
-2 kinds of utterances: constated: descriptive nature
-performative utterances: create reality i.e. I promise to make dinner tonight
creating a certain type of obligation to another person
-promise, ‘I love you’, cursing
- ‘I do’—under certain circumstances, certain words are performative
-Lear externalizes the performative power of his speech
-performative lang is not necessarily tied to intention, can be used mischievously
-Lear intuits that his language is tied to the specific nature of the context in which he uses it
-‘ I banish you’, creates a new reality
-should think about cordelia’s silence—being a brat, understands what is going on and decides to
humiliate her father—but also, refusing to play the game, her feelings are easily manipulated by
her sisters and instrumentalized by her father
-in contrast to her sisters, cordelia uses a lot of pronouns
-in cordelia’s mind, people are distinct from each other
-while her sisters’ rhetoric substitutes for reality, cordelia does not, demonstrates that it means a
lot to her to state that he loves her
-her silence is vindicated by lear’s punishment, ‘thy truth by thy dowre
I,iii, 1155
-Gonoral, line 17
-her comment draws attention to lear’s lack of royal stature and lack of manliness
1158—song by lear’s fool, understand that Lear has given away more than he had to
1159-- nothing is a key word
-relies on his daughter’s love and as such has made himself into nothing
-giving up his crown is the beginning of his rapid descent into madness
-the experience of madness is the play is represented as hysteria—a type of feminine madness
associated with the womb, and the womb could wander around the body and cause the woman to
be crazy
-1162—“hot tears, images of castration, the image of blindness is associated with castration
because when Oedipus blinds himself upon finding out his situation, the associated with
castration started here
-1179—from here it is a short step to III,ii, Lear calls to flatten the earth and destroy its powers
-Lear is raging and vulnerable but clings to his old identity by demanding,I am a man more
sinned against…”
-When suggested they all take refuge, Lear undergoes a real transformation
-Lear has a sensory experience leading to a realization of the suffering of the court under his care
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