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King Lear


King Lear Third lecture The Gloucester subplot The division between the generations clearly parallel to the Lear plot. Like Cordelia, Edgar, the good son, is driven out. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: King Lear

King Lear
  • Third lecture

The Gloucester subplot
  • The division between the generations clearly
    parallel to the Lear plot.
  • Like Cordelia, Edgar, the good son, is driven
  • Like Lear with his daughters, Gloucester is blind
    to Edmunds treachery.
  • And Gloucesters blindness parallels Lears
  • The scene literalizes Gloucesters metaphor of
    the violence done to Lear (III.7.48-49) Because
    I would not see thy cruel nails pluck out his
    poor old eyes.
  • The blinding of Gloucester a scene of
    unmitigated, nightmarish horror out vile
  • Gloucester is enlightened at the precise moment
    he is blinded Then Edgar was abused.
  • Just as Lears madness comes of his understanding
    of Goneril and Regans cruelty to him.

Gloucester and Edgar
  • Edgars optimism at IV.1 Yet better thus . .
    . is shattered when his father comes in.
  • And he himself alludes to the temptation of
    suicide? Ll. 10-11.
  • Gloucesters I stumbled when I saw.
  • And his yearning to see Edgar in my touch.
    And his near recognition of Edgar in Poor Tom.
  • His inability to see Edgar?
  • His despair As flies to wanton boys are we to
    th gods/ They kill us for their sport.
  • Why does Edgar not reveal himself to Gloucester
    at this point?
  • But instead lead him to Dover and the feigned
  • Tis the times plague when madmen lead the

Edgars miracle
  • It seems to come in place of Edgars
    recognition of Gloucester.
  • And it plays with the audiences perceptions
    what characters say on stage are the sets and
    settings on Shakespeares stage.
  • So what Edgar and Gloucester say at the beginning
    of IV.6 must confuse us are we laboring up the
    hill to Dover cliff or not?
  • And has Edgar thrown off his Poor Tom act?
  • How staged?
  • Edgars own doubts might his miracle have
    killed his father through the imagination of
  • His explanation literalizes Gloucesters despair
    in terms that come of a morality play the
  • Edgars lesson Bear free and patient thoughts.
  • But why didnt Edgar simply declare himself to

Lears journey
  • Just as Lears prayer recognizes the Poor
    naked wretches (III.4), such a naked wretch
    enters in Edgars guise of Poor Tom.
  • Almost as if Lears altered state of mind causes
    what he imagines to materialize!
  • Lears growing madness mirrored in the feigned
    madness of Poor Tom.
  • Edgar plays the role of repentant Mankind, such
    as one might see in a morality play.
  • Which includes temptations to suicide, as well as
    to others of the seven deadly sins
  • Lear embraces him as unaccommodated man, the
    thing itself humanity in its most basic state.
  • . . . and attempts to imitate, identify with Poor
    Tom Off, off, you lendings!
  • And another pat entrance the fool speaks of a
    little fire in a cold field were like an old
    lechers heart a small spark, all the rest ons
    body cold.
  • And who should come it but the the old lecher
    himself, Gloucester!
  • Whom Edgar calls the foul fiend
  • A nightmare world see Gloucesters lines Our
    flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so vile/ That
    it doth hate what gets i.e., begets it.
  • Tom becomes Lears philosopher.

Fourth stage of Lears journey Lear completely
mad encountering the blind Gloucester
  • IV.6 Lear on the heath, mad, bedecked with
    weeds . . .
  • . . . stripped of all his identity he too is
    now unaccommodated man?
  • . . . encounters the blinded Gloucester.
  • Lears pardoning of Gloucesters adultery and
    his mad misogyny.
  • Gloucester O let me kiss that hand.
  • Lear Let me wipe it first. It smells of
  • He mistakes Gloucesters bandage for Cupids
    blindfold somehow connecting his sin with its
  • Seeing the world feelingly the worlds
  • Lears mad insights into authority a dogs
    obeyed in office.
  • And the hypocrisy of justice tattered clothes
    vs. furred gowns.
  • How much of Lears discourse is madness, how much
    a new clarity? Edgar exclaims, O matter and
    impertinency mixed! Reason in madness.
  • His lesson to Gloucester Thou must be
  • And the newborn infants tragic understanding of

The meeting with Cordelia
  • There was a climactic scene in the old morality
    plays when the penitent protagonist was given a
    garment of repentance by the saving Virtue
  • IV.7 Lear brought in, freshly clothed, asleep in
  • Cordelia slowly wakens him with music, kisses
  • Lears true delusion Thou art a soul in bliss
    . . .
  • And in kneeling plays the part in old the
    morality play.
  • And slowly recovers a sense of himself.
  • But only in a relational sense to Cordelia? as I
    am a man, I think this lady/ To be my child
  • His guilt? No cause. No cause.
  • And then in V.3 he imagines a contented life in
    prison with Cordelia.
  • But the ordeal is not yet finished.

Back to Lear and Gloucester plots
  • Edgars miracle scene analogous to Cordelias
    meeting with her father.
  • But things remain more abstract?
  • Despair to be cured abstractly, by the staged
  • Reiterated at V.2 9-11 Ripeness is all.
  • But still he doesnt reveal himself.
  • After the battle, Edgar and Edmund exchange
  • And Edgar holds to a sense of absolute justice
    The dark and vicious place where thee he got/
    Cost him his eyes.
  • But seems to admit his own fault in concealing
    himself from his father ll 193ff.
  • The circumstances suggest a dark and rigid
    justice playing itself out Edmund and Gloucester
    both die.
  • And Edgar, the just son, survives.
  • But how does this compare to the Lear story?