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TOPIC: King Lear help please

King Lear help please 6 years 5 months ago #1530

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Any ideas on significant issues Shakespeare is asking the audience to wrestle with in King Lear?
I am suppossed to discuss his success in causing these issues to come into sharp focus.

What does Shakespeare achieve in juxtaposing the Lear and Gloucester families?

Why must Gloucester lose his eyes?

Why must Lear go "mad"?

Why must Cordelia die?

Any help or suggestions are greatly appreciated thanks.
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King Lear help please 6 years 5 months ago #1536

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It has been brought to my attention that my posts seem like I am wanting my homework done for me. I just want to let other users know that I am not wanting my homework done for me! I am a home schooled student and I am just trying to get a discussion going on some of the questions I am given to think about and analyzie after each play. I have my own opinion and would just like to hear someone elses opinion and hopefully be able to have a meaningful discussion that allows us all to think about what Shakespeare wanted his audience to learn. I am also looking to enrich my learning experience while studing Shakespeare. So if anyone would like to reply I will post again so we can start a discussion, as you will bounce ideas off eachother.
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King Lear help please 6 years 5 months ago #1544

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Here is what i have been able to come up with:
Significant issues blindness and materialism (caring more about outward appearance than real meaning or true character)

He shows us the parrell between the two men. Their seeming blindness, their foolish decisions, the way their children betray them, as well as the way the rejected children come to their fathers' rescue when they are needed most.


I think Gloucester lost his eyes because it is very sybolic of his "blindness" when it came to his children and it also symbolizes lear's "blindness" in the same aspect, which I think is a part of the juxtaposing. I also think Gloucester lost his eyes because it helps to show the cruelty of Lear's daughter, who has betrayed not only her father but now Gloucester for helping her father. I think the lose of his eyes is also a symbol of the fact that even when he had his vision he wasn't seeing clearly. Gloucester saw more clearly as a blind man. He realized his foolishness and finally saw what he should have seen all along. Any other ideas about why Shakespeare has Gloucester's eyes gouged out?

I think Lear going mad is symbolic for he and Gloucester in a similar way to Gloucester loosing his eyes being symbolic for he and Lear. Lear's madness comes about because of his "blindness" about his daughters, especially Cordelia. Lear goes mad because he finally "sees" how foolish he was in turning Cordelia away. He comes to realize that his care about outward appearence of his daughters' love for him was foolish. He realizes how evil Goneril and Regan are and begins to go crazy because of the way they are treating him. He really looses it when he see clearly how much Cordelia loved him and how much better she would have treated him. I think it really hit him when he sees that Cordelia is more kind to him even after he disowned her and divided her dowary between Goneril and Regan.

I think Cordelia dying is Shakespeare showing his cynicism of justice in society. I think he's almost saying there is no justice in this world for people who try to do good. If he believed there was justice in this world I don't believe that he would have killed off Cordelia. Goneril and regan deserved to die or be punished for the treatment of their father. I think that is another thing Shakespeare wanted the audience to think about, why bad things always seem to happen to good people I also feel that Cordelia's death was another way for Lear to be punished for the way he treated her. any other ideas or suggestions?
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King Lear help please 6 years 4 months ago #1548

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I've lost the use of one hand temporarily so this is going to be quick:

Try stepping back a bit - Germaine Greer comes up with something so obvious everyone ignores both it and its significance: Lear is going senile. It is the cost of a long life.

She references Sonnet LX.

She also claims there are two strands to the play - one optimistic for the future and one 'raging against the dying of the light'.

Another thing she points out is that, as the evidence for 'God in man' in the play recedes, the need for hope and belief increases - this puts some of your questions into an interesting context.
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King Lear help please 6 years 4 months ago #1550

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Who is this Germaine Greer? That does give an interesting context to some of my questions
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King Lear help please 6 years 4 months ago #1551

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To some nothing more than a femanist; to others one of the best and most original Shakespeare scholars around today.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germaine_Greer

The book I am quoting from, referencing is 'Shakespeare: A Very Short Introduction' which I rate as the best serious introduction to the plays around even though it is a little old now.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shakespeare-Int ... 10&sr=1-18

She has also just published stunning 'Shakespeare's Wife ' "biography"of the woman which gives tremendous background to Shakespeare and some of the dafter male presumptions. :twisted:
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King Lear help please 6 years 4 months ago #1554

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Ok what is your opinion on the relevence of Cordelia's death? On one hand I see that it doesn't have signifigance and is kind of just saying well everyone will die someday but on the other hand it is almost showing that Shakespeare had a cynical view of justice. Yet again you could also say that Cordelia was killed as a result of trying to restore the natural order and to restore order evil must be purged and (truth) Cordelia is a victim of this.

Do you have any thoughts on Cordelia being truth? She and the fool are the only ones willing to tell it like they see it. Which also brings into question the relationship between her and the fool. Are they meant to be one in the same or are they constantly being juxtaposed like the Lear and Gloucester Families?

Do you have a view on justice in the play. It almost seems that Shakespeare is showing cynism toward justice by Cordelia being killed off, especialy considering she is one of the characters who is good and true throughout the whole paly. I only see cynism because I understand the reason for every other characters death. Regan and Goneril die because of the treatment of their father, their decietful and hateful nature, lust, ect..
Other characters all have reasons to die whether it be lying, stealing, cheating
Lear even has reason to be killed off : his treatment of Cordelia because of her unflattering remarks when she is the only daughter who tryuly loved him in the first place.
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King Lear help please 6 years 4 months ago #1555

Cordelia's death I don't believe is just another death to make sure that all the major characters at the end of a Tragedy are dead. She was Lear's favorite child, "our joy". In Lear's poor judgement of her simple, yet loving , reply to his request to hear of her love he cast her out of his love and life. It is common for a Tragic lead character to lose everything because of some misjudgement.
What makes this story a Tradgedy in my opinion, is Cordelia's death. Cordelia is reunited with Lear, he begs forgiveness. Things are looking up. But it is of course too late. Edmund has taken full advantage of the situation caused by Lear's first misjudgement, and she is killed under orders before she can be saved. Thus, Lear loses his last hope, his only remaining joy, everything.
I don't think it's shakespeare showing cynicism toward justice by Cordelia being killed off, but rather a Tragic character who pays the ultimate price for his mistakes: losing all that he loves, followed by his own life.
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King Lear help please 6 years 4 months ago #1556

Cordelia's death may be perceived as the worst possible thing that could have happened to Lear while he was still alive and therefore the "straw that broke the camel's back" in his own death.

There are several schools of thought on the Fool. One says that he was Lear's son from a previous extra-marital encounter. This would make Cordelia and the Fool half-siblings and only Lear would know that. Some say that the Fool only existed in Lear's imagination and was never real — just part of his madness. Partially supporting this is the Fool's mysterious disappearance after his prophecy in III, 2.

The final lines of the play sum it up one way or another...depending on who ends up speaking them.
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King Lear help please 6 years 4 months ago #1557

shakespeare wrote:
...Some say that the Fool only existed in Lear's imagination and was never real — just part of his madness. Partially supporting this is the Fool's mysterious disappearance after his prophecy in III, 2...
I don't even want to comment on the Fool as Lear's illegitimate son, but as for only existing in Lear's imagination, I have to wonder how we would account for the interaction the Fool has with other characters such as Goneril who specifically recognizes his existence:
Not only, sir, this your all-licens'd fool,
But other of your insolent retinue
Do hourly carp and quarrel, breaking forth
In rank and not-to-be-endured riots.

One theory I have heard concerning Cordelia's death is that since she represents France, Shakespeare has her die rather than have her take Britain's throne.

Regards, Charles
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