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Lecture 33

ENGL 4723 Lecture 33: King Lear Notes (Week 12)

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Oklahoma State University
ENGL 4723
Edward J Jones

King Lear Two forms: history and tragedy. Family conflict that gets personal (like Othello). Kent thinks the King liked Albany more than Cornwall. Gloucester used to believe that too (talking about 2 of the daughter’s husbands—Lear values daughters more, leaves them land not the husbands). Connections: talks about husbands (because they aren’t the daughters) favor one duke over another, he might favor one daughter over another (the one he favors will be given more) Cordelia is favorite—but won’t flatter him, so he disowns her—set up for favoritism in play. Not accidental. Kingdom divided up (only Gloucester and Kent know about it). Burgundy and France not allowed in the room during the deivision—privacy of play, no intervention on their part, negotiation of dowry with daughter—no dowry, so she is worthless to Burgundy, King of France likes her character (she has standards, saying what is tru, not what is expected) oxymoronic speech by King of France [France sees the best]. Connections: Goneril and Regan say Lear is acting like an old man—“tell me who I am”—as a king, more concerned with flattery, not truth—Cordelia talks to him as a father, while others talk to him as a King (flattering). Cordelia challenges idea presented by sisters that he is number one over their husbands—expects daughters to be more loyal to him than to their husbands. [marriages aren’t based on affection—family arrangements—don’t know each other] father in charge of marriage arrangements, but overvaluing what he gets out of it (Cordelia sees this, the others take advantage of it). Real complaint about king and soldiers? He gives up throne, but still actin like King (appointed by God, not supposed to abdicate)—but daughters still make it seem like he is worse than he is. [speech by Ulysses about order in Troilus and Cressida—informing speech here] for France coming back because Lear’s kingdom is falling apart—subplot shows chaos Gloucester’s sons. Edmund—nature bound services—what occurs naturally—conditions Edmund was born into (parental status, class, none of that exists in the natural course of action)—he is just as good as his brother, no matter who their mothers are, all created the same way—NATURE—everything else is social constructs. How things in the universe act naturally, no matter what—growth. Human is different in its abilities—all same creation though. The fool is more clever than funny—hired employees to entertain, but he gives more advice— loyal—moved figure into tragedy and back it out into romance. Diversion for those in court— associated with satire (complaining with comedy, make comments that are thoughtful for a rule, but entertaining) critiquing behaviors in society in tragedy, lighter in comedy, associated with poets in history—speak out and say things within the context of the play. Easier to understand the more you look at him—his language puts you off: paradox, “prophesy,” using obvious to confuse readers, things that don’t go together he puts together, have to figure out how they fit, speaks nonsense on surface as a fool—those that he entertains don’t HEAR him. “Tom”—Edgar—feigned madness. Lear’s insanity? Confusion? How confident can we be when saying someone is mad? Unpredictable, storm doesn’t bother him—doesn’t need to be safe. His internal struggle is worse than the storm. Gets worse the more his daughter’s betray him—storm is comfort—less confusing than daughters’ actions—mirrors his internal struggle, makes him feel normal. Strips clothes off so rain hits him straight on—everyone else
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