RCS AP King Lear

King Lear the hero of William Shakespeare’s tragedy who was betrayed and mistreated by two of his scheming daughters
Edgar Loyal son of Gloucester
Cordelia Lear’s youngest daughter, disowned by her father for refusing to flatter him. Cordelia is held in extremely high regard by all of the good characters in the play—the king of France marries her for her virtue alone, overlooking her lack of dowry. She remains loyal to Lear despite his cruelty toward her, forgives him, and displays a mild and forbearing temperament even toward her evil sisters, Goneril and Regan. Despite her obvious virtues, Cordelia’s reticence makes her motivations difficult to read, as in her refusal to declare her love for her father at the beginning of the play.
“look there her lips” Most important line in the play. Determines your entire analysis of whether or not Lear is crazy or sane at his death.
Soliloquy speech spoken by a character who is alone on stage. Often, soliloquies reveal insights into a character’s thoughts, emotions, and motives for action.
Aside Words spoken by a character on stage that are meant to be heard by the audience, but not by any other characters who are on stage. The aside is often used to give the audience a unique insight into a character’s interior world. In King Lear, for example, Cordelia addresses the audience several times in the first scene of the play in order to express her in- ner turmoil: “What shall Cordelia do? Love, and be silent.” (I, i).
Subplot A secondary plot that runs alongside the main ac- tion of the play. In King Lear, the story of Gloucester and his two sons functions as a subplot that runs alongside and simultaneously mirrors the plot that is developing between Lear and his three daughters.
Allusion A reference to another text, event, or person with which the audience is presumably familiar. In King Lear, Shakespeare frequently alludes to Roman mythology. Act I, scene i, for example, contains an allusion to Hecate, a goddess from ancient Greek mythology:LEAR: Let it be so; thy truth then be thy dower: For by the sacred ra- diance of the sun, The mysteries of Hecate, and the night; By all the operation of the orbs From whom we do exist and cease to be; Here I disclaim all my paternal care.
Tragic Hero A prevalent feature of the Elizabethan theatre.
Madness Real or pretended, madness was a popular tech- nique employed in Elizabethan plays.
Conflict In any play, conflict between characters and inter- nal conflicts within particular characters drive the plot. In King Lear, the conflict between Lear and his daughters, be- tween old and age and youth, leads to a power struggle of un- expected dimensions. Cordelia represents a character who struggles with an internal conflict when she ponders how to answer her father’s request for an avowal of love truthfully in- stead of superficially. Edgar faces an inner conflict when he leads his father to the cliffs of Dover. He must decide between serving or protecting Gloucester.
Pun A device that achieves emphasis or humor by using two distinct meanings for the same word or for two similar sound- ing words. In King Lear, Shakespeare incorporates a pun in the word “conceive” in Act I, scene i: In answer to Kent’s state- ment, “I cannot conceive you,” Gloucester replies: “Sir, this young fellow’s mother could.” The word “conceive,” here, has two distinct meanings: Kent uses the word “conceive” to mean “understand,” whereas Gloucester uses the word to mean “be- coming pregnant.”
Sight and Insight vs. Blindness and Ignorance Among the most important recurring themes Shakespeare de- velops in King Lear is the idea of SIGHT AND INSIGHT vs. BLINDNESS AND IGNORANCE. Shakespeare continuously repeats and develops this thematic idea on a literal (EYESIGHT/BLINDNESS) as well as metaphorical level (INSIGHT/IGNORANCE).
Nature and Order The plot of King Lear develops around notions of NATURE AND ORDER.a) NATURAL ORDER – FAMILYFamily and birthright are important themes in King Lear. At the onset of the play, for example, Gloucester firmly considers Edgar as his legitimate son. He calls him “a son by order of law” (I.i). Because Edgar is a legitimate son whereas Edmund is a son born out of wedlock, natural family order determines that Edgar not only has a right to the inheritance of his fa- ther’s property and possessions, but also to his father’s re- spect and love. Edmund, on the other hand, is ridiculed and less respected by his father, because he is considered an “un- natural” son without rights.b) NATURAL ORDER – FATE AND THE STARSA number of characters in King Lear refer to the stars or the workings of fate in order to explain particular events in the story. This notion of astronomical influence was common dur- ing the Elizabethan Age. The progressive ideas of Galileo Gali- lei, who offered scientific explanations for the movements of the planets and stars, were, at the time of Shakespeare, still un- accepted by many who clung to the beliefs inherited from me- dieval times.Shakespeare’s play indicates his belief that NATURE cannot determine the ORDER of the world. Neither NATURAL FAM- ILY ORDER nor the NATURAL ORDER OF FATE AND THE STARS can relieve human beings of responsibility of action.
What do you think of the Fool? What is his purpose in the play? The fool’s purpose in the play is to act as a foil for Lear. He and Cordelia are KL’s “eyes” (or insight) until he can see for himself.The fool goes to show that King Lear is more of the fool.
Lear is king of what country? Great Britain (England)
Which one of Lear’s daughters is sent into exile? Cordelia
Which one of Lear’s counselors reprimands the king for exiling his daughter? Kent
Who is Gloucester’s bastard son? Edmund
When Lear visits Goneril, what does she demand of him? That he send away some of his knights
When they hear that Lear is coming to visit them, where do Regan and Cornwall go? to Gloucester’s castle
Why is Kent thrown into the stocks? For beating Oswald with the flat of his sword
When he flees from his father, how does Edgar disguise himself? As a common beggar
When Lear tells Regan that Goneril has wronged him, what does Regan advise him to do? Go to Goneril and ask her forgiveness
After he curses both Goneril and Regan, what does Lear do? Storms out of the castle with the fool
Blank Verse In all of his plays, the predominant rhythmic and metric pattern Shakespeare uses is blank verse, or unrhymed iambic pentameter.
Other standout themes in King Lear MadnessThe Meaning of “Nothing”The Weather—The Recurring Storm.