Saturday, October 31, 2015

King Lear Blog: Week 2- Act II: Part 2

There are many are references to nature in King Lear Act II, which are analogies. King Lear is compared to nature when people are describing his emotional state, but the comparison is also adding an interesting aspect to the characters. Many of the comparisons in Act II are insulting, and the comparisons range from small to large. Nature is used for simple insults and to demonstrate larger themes, invoke punishment and clarify political situations.

For example, King Lear compares Goneril to a vulture. He says "Thy sister's naught. O Regan, she hath tied sharp-toothed unkindness, like a vulture, here" (2.4.151-152) A larger and stronger illustration is the use of the storm at the end of the Act. This is an example of straightforward insult.  

Nature is used in a more complex manner by the fool to explain to Kent (who is in disguise) that the King is no longer a power to follow. This is a safer way for the fool to describe what is a complex political situation. The Fool is talking to Kent about King Lear before they both set off into the storm. He is comparing King Lear to ants in winter who are hopeless and helpless. The Fools says, "We'll set thee to school to an ant to teach thee there's no laboring i' th' winter. All that follow 
their noses are led by their eyes but blind men, and 
there's not a nose among twenty but can smell him
that's stinking." (2.4.74-78) Winter is a time when ants are unprofitable. Ants gather in the fall and spring so they can store up resources to survive in the winter. In the winter they simply survive.  King Lear is in his winter because his power is declining and is now unprofitable. King Lear is going downhill and becoming depressed and is destroying everything that once was attached to him, such as Kent and his land and control of his kingdom.   

Nature is used in another way when King Lear begins to curse Goneril.  Nature is seen as a powerful force in the time of King Lear. It is seen as the god's way to punish people. King Learn is so angry with Goneril that he wishes harm to come to her as punishment for her actions. He is praying to the gods and nature to do their magical job and deal with his problems instead of him facing them head on. He prays, 
"You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames 
Into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty, 
You fen-sucked fogs drawn by the powerful sun 
To fall and blister!" (2.4.186-1189) 
King Lear here is saying he wishes that she get struck by lightning and fire, so she becomes ugly and gets rained on by acid and get blisters over her body. He is appealing to nature as a force to take action for him since he no longer has the power to punish Goneril.
He does not show any affection towards Goneril or Regan because of their selfish actions. King Lear is angry and when people are enraged, they say and do things at impulse, then soon regret their actions. Lear does not have any sympathy for his daughter in this scene, and he states this.  

The storm at the end of Act II is another major force of nature. King Lear is extremely angry. He calls on the heavens and gods saying, "You heavens, give me patience, patience I need! You see me here, you, gods, a poor old man" (2.4.312-313). Then he goes on to say that he will seek revenge on his daughters. 
"I will do such things - what they are yet I know not, but they shall be the terrors of the earth!" (2.4.322-324) 
Again King Lear goes to nature for a punishment of his daughters. As he expresses his grief, he says, 
"No, I'll not weep. I have full cause of weeping, but this heart shall break into a hundred thousand flaws." (2.4.325-327) 
This is the time when the thunder and storm are heard. King Lear's anger, grief growing madness are being expressed through the nature of the storm.  

Regan and Goneril also use the storm more directly. When Regan and Goneril close the gates after Lear goes out into the storm they are hoping that mother nature will do their job for them and kill him, so they can keep their hands clean of his murder. 

Nature is used in many complex ways in King Lear. It is an organic element of life, and each character uses it in a metaphorical way. Nature was seen as a significant part of life in that period. It's used to emphasize and explain emotions, punishment, curses and insults.  
  

King Lear Blog: Week 2- Act II: Part 1

Clothing & Nakedness are one of the themes that appear in Act II. The action of nakedness is illustrated literally and figurative. Nakedness is a sign of vulnerability. All men are vulnerable and defenseless when naked and there is a loss of authority and power This is a part of what leads to insanity for King Lear later in the play. In Act, II Edgar disguises himself as Poor Tom to avoid his death sentence. 

Clothing is the symbol for taking off sanity and putting on madness. Edgar takes on the character of "Poor Tom of Bedlam". Bedlam was a hospital for people who were mentally ill and the use of "Tom of Bedlam" is a way to communicate that Edgar is taking on a role of madness. Madness is a perfect disguise for Edgar. It is an intentional choice to disrobe and assume the appearance of madness. He puts on the role by taking off his clothing. Edgar says 
"I will preserve myself, and am bethought to take the basest and most poorest shape that ever penury in contempt of man brought near to beast. My face I'll grime with filth, blanket my loins, elf all my hair in knots, and with presented nakedness outfaced the winds and persecutions of the sky" (2.4.6-12). Edgar's action of madness adds depth and character development throughout Act II. 

There are symbolic representations of clothing & nakedness, starting with Edgar disguising himself as "Poor Tom". He strips off his clothes after he is banished from the castle because he is trying to survive. Disguised as "Poor Tom", he can slowly investigate what has happened with his father, and who set him up. He can creep back into the walls of the kingdom. Edgar becomes nothing and nobody in the ideal disguise of the poor beggar. This parallels that fact that Edgar does not exist because he has been disowned and banished.  Someone who is mad lives in the world where nothing is it seems. Edgar admits, "'Poor Turlygod! Poor Tom!' That's something yet. 'Edgar' I nothing am." (2.4.20-21) Edgar takes on being nothing and having no clothes or belongings because a person like that does not have an identity they are nothing. 

Regan's actions are opposite from "Poor Tom's. Regan uses her clothes as signs of power and control, which dehumanizes he. King Lear says that Regan is unable to see the value and importance of her humanity and her clothing represents her greed and desire for power. While, nakedness in this situation is seen as clarity. She can't see clearly that her narrow-mindedness is fogging up her perspective. Lear says to Regan, "Thou art a lady; if only to go warm were gorgeous
Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st
Which scarcely keeps thee warm. But for true
need---..." (2.4.308-312)
She dresses richly, and her clothes represent her true nature, which is not warm or caring about her father but rather indicate the outer covering as beautiful while her true nature is poor, cold and ugly. Goneril and Regan also dress in riches and beautiful gowns to indicate their power and control while King Lear is losing power and control.       

Kent also uses the idea of clothing by saying Oswald is all show, and that he is nothing more than his clothing. Kent believes that Oswald is not truly a man, he is just weak and hiding behind his clothing. This is demonstrated when Kent is referencing Oswald as being tailor-made. Kent states,
"No marvel, you have so bestirred your valor. 
You cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee' a tailor made thee.
Cornwall:  Thou art a strange fellow. A tailor make a man?
Kent: A tailor, sir. A stonecutter or a painter could not have made him so ill, though they had been but two years o' th' trade."  (2.2.54-61)

Kent indicates that even a sculptor or a painter with only a couple of years of experience could have done a better job of creating a man.  Kent is saying that Oswald is a poor picture of a man.  His clothing is all there is to him. In reality, Oswald is a freak and lacks profundity. Oswald is Goneril servant and is reflecting her personality since he is in the subordinate position and she is the superior position. Goneril is also nothing but her clothes and has power but no substance as a human being.  

Overall, clothing & nakedness can be a symbol for a disguise or revealing your emotional state, which both situations are shown in King Lear. Things can make a person go insane, out of their minds, just to present a facade to others to make themselves look superior. 





Sunday, October 25, 2015

King Lear Blog: Week 1- Act I: Part 2

The second theme that is prominent in King Lear Act I is parent/child relationships. There are two main parent/child relationships in separate families, but throughout the story they become intertwined. The first family is the Duke of Gloucester and his two sons: Edgar and Edmund; and the second is King Lear with his three daughters: Regan, Goneril, and Cordelia. These family dynamics are different in many ways because it's daughters vs. father and sons vs. father. As a result, this creates an interesting energy between the two families as they fight for power and control. As the novel progresses, the interactions between the characters become darker and more aggressive. 

Gloucester is a nobleman who is a follower of King Lear, and Edgar is his legitimate son while Edmund is an illegitimate son and bastard. Edmund schemes to incriminate Edgar and have him banished from the Kingdom so that he can inherit land because bastards are given that privilege. 
"For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines
Lag of a brother? why “bastard”? Wherefore “base,”
When my dimensions are as well compact,
My mind as generous and my shape as true
As honest madam’s issue? Why brand they us
With “base,” with “baseness,” “bastardy,” “base,”
“base...” (1.2.5-11) 
Gloucester is treating Edmund poorly because he's a bastard, which is his motivation for why he is trying to discredit his brother Edgar. He wants to be treated as a worthy person which is an important position in the power structure. Edmund continues with his plan and writes a letter pretending to be Edgar and shows it to their father, knowing Gloucester would not question him. Somewhere in Edmund's twisted mind, thinks that Gloucester loves him more than Edgar. Gloucester sees the letter that states, 
"...If our father would sleep till I waked
him, you should enjoy half his revenue forever and
live the beloved of your brother.  Edgar." (1.2.55-57) 
Gloucester gets furious and eliminates Edgar from the kingdom indicating that Edmund will inherit everything. Edmund and Gloucester see their relationship differently as Edmund sees their relationship as economic and inherence, and Gloucester sees it has a "tender" and emotional love. Their inability to see eye to eye makes their interactions more dynamic and bitter. 
  
On the other side of the spectrum, there is King Lear and his three daughters which bring a whole new dynamic. At the beginning of the novel, King Lear is in control and gets to decide how and the amount of ownership of power and each will receive. As King Lear relinquishes his land to two of his daughters, they become more powerful, resulting in having more leverage over their father. They soon strike back and withdraw half of his knights and then soon all of them leaving their father will nothing. Their goal was to diminish their father's power.

The roles have been reversed, which leads to an interesting outcome between King Lear and his daughters. They are so bent on destroying one another that they are not paying attention to the damage it's causing their kingdom. The actions of King Lear and his daughters make the reader question who to sympathize with and which side is good and which one is evil. It's hard to tell because the energy changes between the characters so much throughout the novel.      

Also, the distinct relationship between Cordelia and King Lear compared to Regan and Goneril is completely different. Cordelia and King Lear have a more gentle, sweet and honest relationship because she generously loves her father and is not seeking profit from his love. This shows how Cordelia stands out from her sisters,
"You have begot me, bred me, loved me.
I return those duties back as are right fit:
Obey you, love you, and most honor you.
Why have my sisters husbands if they say
They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,
That lord whose hand must take my plight shall
carry, Half my love with him, half my care and duty.
Sure I shall never marry like my sisters,
(To love my father all)." (1.1.106-115) 
King Lear responds by becoming very angry, disowns her and distributes her dowry to her two other sisters. Regan and Goneril take advantage of their father to get powerful and rich. They do not truly, love King Lear. This can be seen when Goneril says, 
"You see how full of changes his age is; the observation we have made of it hath (not) been little. He always loved our sister most, and with
what poor judgment he hath now cast her off
appears too grossly.
REGAN: ’Tis the infirmity of his age. Yet he hath ever
but slenderly known himself." (1.1.334-340) 

In King Lear, it's quite clear that Regan and Goneril and Edmund are willing to destroy their fathers to gain power. In comparison Cordelia and Edgar, want to be loved and do not want to have to fight for ownership, property and do not care as much about power and control. Each one of their relationships changes and evolves as the play progresses, which is interesting to watch and adds more depth to the characteristics of the characters and the story.   

Friday, October 23, 2015

King Lear Blog: Week 1- Act I: Part 1

A major theme that can be seen in King Lear Act 1 is power and control. At the start of the play King, Lear is in charge and has all of the power and control as a ruler. As King Lear is ready to pass the throne on to his daughters, he asks them who loves him the most, and this determines how large the portion of land they receive will be. Cordelia refuses to answer, and the King’s disowns her and she does not receive any dowries. King Lear states, “With my two daughters’ dowers digest the third. (1.1.144) This event changes as he begins to divide his kingdom between his daughters, Regan, and Goneril. As a result, King Lear is giving away his power and land. King Lear is giving Cordelia’s portion of the land to Regan and Goneril. This is one illustration of power presented in the play, where the King is making major decisions about the future without consulting with others. King Lear's power, control, and influence are diminished in the kingdom when he gives power and land to Regan and Goneril.

 He later recognizes his ignorance regarding Regan and Goneril's love for him. Though, their main intentions were to minimize his power and control over the Knights, which would reduce his strength leading to his inability to control his kingdom. The significance of Regan and Goneril eliminating his knights and servants is to decrease his influence and power in the kingdom since knights and attendance are a recognized symbol of royalty ad. A great illustration is when Goneril is speaking to the King and complaining about his knights, 
“What, fifty of my followers at a clap?
Within a fortnight?" (1.4.308-309) 

Progressing further into the novel, Regan and Goneril soon start to attack the King's self-esteem, which makes him doubt his identity and his sanity. "That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus,
That these hot tears, which break from me perforce,
Should make thee worth them. Blasts and fogs upon
thee!" (1.4.313-316) Self-esteem represents confidence and positivity. But if you are deprived of these characteristics you are vulnerable, and weak leaving you easy to control. These actions are displayed when Regan and Goneril say that he is getting older and needs to be taken care of and is not going to be around much longer to rule the kingdom.

A newly revealed power and control that can also be represented, in the Act I is the ability to have total control over the life and death of subordinate classes. As a knight and nobleman, Kent has no control over the King's decisions. King Lear banishes Kent from the Kingdom because he has his Knights to express his power and demands, and Kent has no power to rebel against King Lear's decisions. If he stays, he will be sentenced to death. King Lear declares, 
"And on the sixth to turn thy hated back
Upon our kingdom. If on the tenth day following
Thy banished trunk be found in our dominions,
The moment is thy death. Away! By Jupiter,
This shall not be revoked." (1.1.199-203)
The power structure of royalty functions by the dominant class, the King, has control over the subordinate classes such as nobleman, knights, and servants.  King Lear has the physical man force to control others actions, which allows him to keep his power as the King by controlling others. 

On the other point of view, Kent has a moral power by informing King Lear that he is making a mistake when King Lear sends Cordelia into exile and strippes of her dowry, Kent protests. 
"Kill thy physician, and thy fee bestow
Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift,
Or whilst I can vent clamor from my throat,
I’ll tell thee thou dost evil." (1.1.187-190) Kent uses the power of speaking the truth to someone in the position of power regardless of the consequences. Kent then declares his loyalty and dedication to the King. "My life I never held but as (a) pawn
To wage against thine enemies, (nor) fear to lose it,
Thy safety being motive." (1.1.175-178) Kent can risk his behavior towards the King because he only has his life and safety as his my main goals. Kent can say this because he is willing to take a risk and to be honest since he has the King’s best interest at heart. 

A new kind of trust is indicated when Kent returns disguised and with no hesitations is committed to following King Lear once again. Kent's dedication to the King could be a use of his power because he has a firm influence on his men convincing them they are doing it for a good cause.

Power and Control is one of the strongest elements in a hierarchy, but it can be taken and given to other people at any time. It's a powerful thing to have, and if someone is not careful, it could end up in the wrong hands. It all depends on if you are willing to give up the power or get it taken away. Throughout King Lear, the power and control is passed on through the family by force and threats and ends up in the hands of people who are selfish. At the end of the play, everyone dies because of jealousy and heartbreak. Nothing good came out of the situation. Is it worth dying for in the end?  

Friday, October 16, 2015

King Lear Introductory Blog

Throughout the novel, King Lear loses lots of physical and emotional resources. The first physical element King Lear loses at the beginning of the novel is his servant Kent and his youngest daughter Cordelia. This event occurs in the scene when he is first deciding how to divide up his power and land between his three daughters: Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. Cordelia's refuses to proclaim her love for her father, as her sisters did, and King Lear strips her of her dowry and divides it between Goneril and Regan. The King expresses his disgust towards Cordelia saying, 
"By all the operation of the orbs 
From whom we do exist and cease to be, 
Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
Propinquity, and property of blood,
And as a stranger to my heart and me 
Hold thee from this forever." (1.1.123-128) 
The Earl of Kent protests against the King's actions and defends Cordelia, but the King banishes Kent from the kingdom and if he remains he will be executed because of his actions in support of Cordelia. King Lear's plan after giving his land and power to his daughters is to keep a hundred of his knights and switch from Regan's and Goneril's house.

As the novel progresses, King Lear is now living with his daughter Goneril. Goneril expresses her displeasure to King Lear about his knights. She insults his knights saying, "Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires, 
Men so disordered, so debauched and bold,
This our court, infected with their manners.." (1.4.248-250) 
Goneril demands King Lear dismiss half of his knights. Then King Lear prepares to leave for Regan's house. 

In the second Act, King Lear kept on losing resources starting with his two other daughters. King Lear sets off to Regan's house and sends Kent, who is disguised, to Regan's with a letter. Kent arrives at Regan's house and gives the letter to her, but Regan's husband Cornwall punishes him for supporting the King and puts him in the stocks. King Lear reaches Regan's house and is angered hearing his messenger was put in the stocks and then becomes more enraged that Regan and Cornwall declined to see him. Goneril soon arrives, and the daughters each inform King Lear he may stay with them only if he dismisses all of his knights. At this moment, King Lear has lost all three of his daughters and is devastated. As he is grieving, he says, 
"Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws 
Or ere I'll weep.--- O fool, I shall go Mad!" (2.4.327-328) 
Regan and Goneril cut their father's knights to zero, and he sets off into the storm. One of the ideas that are going through King Lear's head is,
"O, that way madness lies. Let me shun that; 
No more of that." (3.4.24-25) 

As King Lear is wandering in the storm with the Fool and Kent he has lost all his treasures: his three daughters, his authority, his knights and above all his sanity.