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.  

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