Sunday, November 15, 2015

King Lear Blog: Week 4- Act V: Part 2

At the opening of the play, we see Edgar as a victim of Edmund's goal of becoming heir to the throne trying to remove Edgar, who is the legitimate son of their father. Edmund gets Edgar exiled from the kingdom. His father Gloucester says:
"Let him fly far!
Not in this land shall he remain uncaught,
and found - dispatch." (2.1.66-68)
Edgar gives the misconception that he is"mad" by becoming "Mad Tom" to survive. He grows in this role understanding how hard life can be. When Edgar finds Gloucester lost after he was blinded, he comforts and guides Gloucester to safety. Edgar with kindness indicates his compassion, understanding, and acceptance of his father's flaws despite his actions of outlawing him. Gloucester brings out a softer side of Edgar. 

As the play continues, a darker side of Edgar is demonstrated. Inside Edgar's heart is a boiling hatred towards his brother, Edmund for what he did. There is a darker part of Edgar, but it was hidden behind his façade. These evil feelings start to be revealed when Edgar confronts Edmund to get revenge by calling a duel. As a result,  Edgar kills Edmund and does not feel remorseful. From the beginning to the end, Edgar has not hurt a fly, but now he is letting his inner wickedness out. He accuses his brother saying:
"(Despite) thy victor-sword and fire-new fortune,
Thy valor, and thy heart, thou art a traitor,
False to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father,...(5.3.160-162)
Finally at the end of the play, Edgar is one of the last characters standing, and is stronger than ever. He has gone from a victim to a survivor to a brave man throughout the storyline. 

Edgar's brother Edmund also grows significantly in the play King Lear.
Edmund is one of the main characters that has a huge individual development throughout the play. When we are first introduced to Edmund, he is the bastard son who is seen as shameful. From there he development into one of the play's villains. Right from the start, he embraces his desires wholeheartedly and demonstrates his intentions in the play's storyline. His desires include; land and power, and he will go to extreme measures to achieve his goal. 

One of Edmund's motivations is the desire to change his status from bastard son to heir to the throne. Edmund displays a selfish attitude when he  says:  
"A credulous father and a brother noble,
Whose nature is so far from doing harms
That he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty
My practices ride easy. I see the business.
Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit."  (1.2.187-191) 
These actions show his selfishness towards his family.  He will do anything to shift his status and the way he is perceived by his father. Edmund's first cruelty started with taking his brother's status and getting him exiled so that he could inch his way into a position of superiority. Edmund is very captivating to watch as a villain. He did not hesitate or flinch when it came to death or grief, but as the play begins to end, Edmund shows signs of change. 

Near the end of the play, Edmund has a moment, when he realizes that Regan and Goneril had both died for him. Regan and Goneril, loved him and were trying to protect him, but instead they both end up dead as a result of fighting over his love. He starts to recognize their love for him when he reassures himself by saying, 
"Yet Edmund was beloved. 
The one the other poisoned for my sake, 
And after slew herself." (5.3.287-289) 
Edmund's recognition of being loved seems to make him regret every action he has committed over the course of the play. Every action, he has justified, but he cannot undo these mistakes. The grief and guilt he feels, drive Edmund to admit to ordering King Lear and Cordelia to their deaths. Edmund's change of heart makes the audience wonder, if he did these horrible actions, not because he was cruel, but because he wanted to be loved. The audience gets to see a softer side of Edmund that we have not ever seen before, so it makes us feel more sympathetic towards him. Maybe he was just looking to be loved, which he felt he was denied as a child. He wanted a bond of love and affection with someone, which he witness all his life between his father and Edgar. As Edmund recognizes his evil of ordering the killing of the King and Cordelia he tries to make amends by stopping the execution. Edmund demands,
"I pant for life. Some good I mean to do
Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send—
Be brief in it—to th’ castle, for my writ
Is on the life of Lear, and on Cordelia.
Nay, send in time." (5.3.291-295) 
This gesture shows his attempt to make up for all of his cruel actions in the past, but it was too late. Cordelia had already been killed Edmund's effort shows his change of heart, and desire to do a kind deed. Perhaps he died at peace, having tried to correct some of the wrongs he had done. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

King Lear Blog: Week 4- Act V: Part 1

Appearance Vs. Reality is a theme filled with illusion and misperceptions. In King Lear Act V, the illusions and deceptions come to an end, and the true motives and realities become clear. The main illusions in the play are in the relationships between King Lear and his three daughters: Regan, Goneril, and Cordelia. Another relationship with illusions is between Gloucester and his two sons: Edgar and Edmund. Several characters are deceptive like Edmund, Regan, and Goneril, resulting in the blindness of King Lear and Gloucester. These misperceptions can create a façade mentally and emotionally. As a result, many characters betray each other in the pursuit of the throne that represents power and control. 

The first illusion was Regan and Goneril claiming to love their father. In reality, they just wanted his power and land. Their competition for control of the kingdom resulted in a great exaggeration of their love for the King at the beginning of the play and set the groundwork for the tragedy to come. Cordelia was the only daughter who told the truth and genuinely loved King Lear. She appeared not affectionate towards him because her words were not exaggerated, but they did tell of a real love that she felt for her father. In Act V, King Lear finds himself at war with his two daughters with the opposing side being Cordelia and himself. When the war is lost, he is happy to be with Cordelia.  He has broken through several illusions. He realizes Cordelia loves him and that Goneril and Regan do not, and he also is mostly sane, valuing her love even as they go to prison.
“No, no, no, no. Come let’s away to prison.
We two alone will sing like birds I’ the cage.
When thou dost ask me blessing.  I’ll kneel down and ask of thee forgiveness.  So we’ll live.” (5.3.9-12)

On the other hand, Edgar, who is disguised as "Poor Tom", pretends to be insane, but he is perfectly sane. He disguises himself to survive by giving others an illusion of a mad man and creates a façade personality on the surface. Edgar's acting shows a strategy he is using to his advantage to defeat Edmund. He is clearly sane and guides Gloucester to Dover as well as prevents him from committing suicide. He sheds his disguise when he beats Edmund. He says:
“My name is Edgar and thy father’s son…
The dark and vicious place when thee he got
Cost him his eyes.” (5.3203-207) All illusions of Edmund being a good person are also clear.

An excellent parallel to these two situations is The Beauty and the Beast movie. The storyline is based on the illusion that someone's external looks do not define someone's personality. If people took the time to get to know someone on a personal level, they would recognize the person's real intentions. When Belle first met the Beast, she was terrified and thought of him as a violent monster that wanted to harm her. But, once she got to spend more time with the Beast, she realized that he had a kind, gentle heart, and he needed a chance to show it to someone. Not everyone is what they seem on the outside; it may be a façade, but you don't know until you give it a chance. King Lear needed to pay more attention to Cordelia to evaluate what she was saying. Her simple words held the truth while her sisters used fancy declarations that were false. Gloucester cast his son aside based on circumstantial evidence. He too needed to look below the surface before judging his child.     

This theme is also repeated in another way when Kent comes back disguised as a follower of the King. There are some parallels between the cleverness of Edgar and Kent's disguises, where they use a different identity to deceive others and reach their personal goals. Clothes are also used to create an illusion. For example, Kent lacks the clothes and garments of a knight, and could be perceived as weak because he is dressed poorly but in reality, he is strong, loyal and willing to follow the King no matter what and do whatever it takes to keep King Lear safe. When he reappears in his usual clothes King Lear recognizes him

The illusions Edmund, Goneril, and Regan have created to manipulate their fathers demonstrated the power of acting out an illusion. Anyone can act using gestures, but it's the misperceived emotions as well as actions that are dangerous and troublesome to us. Act V, is the conclusion of revelations, death, recognitions and forgiveness for most of the characters, reality Reigns.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

King Lear Blog: Week 3- Act III & IV: Part 2

Madness is a key element throughout the play and can be demonstrated in the main character King Lear, as well as other characters such as "Poor Tom" (Edgar). King Lear's actions at the beginning of the play foreshadow what is to come in later scenes.  
He demonstrates horrible judgment and bad decision-making. He starts by dividing his kingdom in half and giving up his power and then banishing his beloved daughter Cordelia and his noble friend Kent. King Lear begins to exhibit elements of madness in the following scene. By Act 3, King Lear is fluctuating between madness and sanity.

When King Lear is thrown out into the storm, his madness becomes more noticeable. One of his mad actions can be seen when King Lear starts to yell at the storm. He yells,
"Rumble thy bellyful! Spit fire! Spout, rain!
Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire are my daughters.
I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness.
I never gave you kingdom, called you children;
You owe me no subscription." (3.2.16-20)
King Lear is so enraged that he is standing out in a bad storm yelling at the elements that are not going to listen to him. He is talking to the elements as though they are people. Another example of his madness is the trial scene where King Lear in his madness tries his daughters for their crimes when he is homeless and powerless.
Lear:  "Arraign her first: 'tis Goneril. I here take my oath before this honorable assembly, kicked the poor king her father.
Fool: Come hither, mistress. Is your name Goneril?]
Lear:  She can not deny it.
Fool: Cry you mercy, I took you for a joint stool." (3.6.50-55)
Here King Lear is hallucinating that Goneril is there when in reality it's a stool. 

King Lear’s madness is also a parallels the chaos in his kingdom.  When Lear was in power, his kingdom was united and certainly had problems but there was order, and it was clear who was in power.  Since King Lear divided the kingdom between his two daughters, there are disagreements between them and the power structure is collapsing. Kent talks about the results of the tension between Regan and Goneril.
"There is division,
Although as yet the face of it is covered
With mutual cunning, 'twixt Albany and Cornwall..." (3.1.23-25)
There is a kind of madness in the kingdom with torture and betrayal happening on many levels. Some examples are gouging out Gloucester's eyes, putting Kent into the stocks and a servant killing Cornwall. 

King Lear is sane at times within his insanity. Losing all of his power and wealth makes King Lear more humble and allows him to see his kingdom more clearly in the midst of his madness. The insanity he develops opens his eyes to things he was blind to when he was in the position of power. King Lear realizes that his kingdom has poor people and is in terrible shape. Now that King Lear himself is homeless, he sympathizes with the people who are living without shelter. King Lear recognizes and sees,
"Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your looped and windowed raggedness defend
You..." (3.4.32-36)   

From another point of view, Edgar is pretending to act mad. Taking on this role of a mad beggar forces him to endure experiences that cause him to gain the strength to defeat Edmund. 
"Who gives anything to Poor Tom, whom the foul fiend hath led (through) fire and through flame, through (ford) and whirlpool, o'er bog and quagmire; that hath laid knives under his pillow..."(3.4.55-58)
This shows the challenges that "Poor Tom" experiences as a mad beggar. Edgar gains strength from his role of madness. 

Edgar transforms to the character of "Poor Tom" as a survival tactic. By this smartness, he can fool everyone while in reality he is sane and is planning revenge on his brother Edmund. Just like King Lear, Edgar is sane within an insane situation. In the trial scene, Edgar is assigned the role of a man of justice, and he clearly sees King Lear madness. Edgar says,
"My tears begin to take his part so much
They mar my counterfeiting." (3.6.63-64)
Here Edgar is saying that his grief for the King is so great that it may force him out of his role of being mad Tom.

There are many different kinds of madness and it is represented in multiple ways. King Lear is clearly going mad, but still have sanity moments within his insanity. Edgar is very sane and uses madness as a cover to deceive everyone. Madness is not always what it seems; sometimes there is sanity within the delusions.  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

King Lear Blog: Week 3- Act III and IV: Part 1

A major theme in Act III and IV is blindness, which is demonstrated t figuratively and through physical actions. The characters go through a progression of blindness and clarity. Not all the characters end up seeing clearly, and they often have clarity about one event and not another. King Lear, Gloucester, and Albany go through the most distinctive transformations. Each is blind in multiple ways but is driven by love. Gloucester is motivated by the love he has for Edmund and believes that his other son Edgar is making a plan to kill him. Then, Albany is blinded by the love he has for Goneril though he is suspicious about her intentions. On the other hand, King Lear situation is more complex then Gloucester's and Albany's. King Lear is blind to the love Cordelia has for him and gives his love to her sisters: Regan and Goneril, who do not love the King. King Lear instead banishes Cordelia and gives her dowries to her sisters. This essay discusses the blindness and clarity of these characters throughout the novel and the revelations they discover about their loved ones.      

At the beginning of at Act III, King Lear has been driven mad by the betrayal of his two daughters: Regan and Goneril. Cordelia is not blinded by her sisters deviousness created to manipulate their father. Cordelia can see what her sisters are doing to their father and has raised an army to try to rescue him.     
A messenger delivers a message saying, "The British powers are marching hitherward." (4.5.24) 
As a result, Cordelia responds "Our preparation stands, 
In expectation of them.---O dear father,
It is thy business that I go about." (4.3.25-27) 
Despite Cordelia bring in an army in defense of King Lear, King Lear is still blind to Cordelia's love towards him.  
King Lear is speaking, "If you have poison for me, I will drink it. 
I know you do not love me, for your sisters, 
Have, as I do remember, done me wrong. 
You have some cause; they have not." (4.7.82-85) 

Gloucester is blind to the betrayal of his son Edmund. Edmund is the illegitimate son who does not inherit anything, which is why Edmund schemes to banish his brother Edgar who is legitimate. Gloucester does not think twice about exiling Edgar because he trusts that Edmund was protecting his safety. Though, in reality Edmund was manipulating his father to his advantage. Edmund states, 
"This courtesy forbid thee shall the Duke
Instantly know, and of that letter too. 
This seems a fair deserving, and must draw me
That which my father loses---no less than all. 
The younger rises when the old doth fall." (3.3.21-25)  
 Edmund does not truly love Gloucester; he is just using him for his power. Gloucester is blind to the fact that Edmund has betrayed his trust and is selling forcing Edgar out. 
Gloucester has his physical sight when he see the banished Edgar, but he is once again blind to his son who is disguised as "Poor Tom" when he is reunited with him during the storm scene. Edgar has transformed into the role of "Poor Tom" and Gloucester does not recognize him.  When Gloucester meet Edgar in the storm, he is confused who he is and asks, 
"What are you there? Your names?" (3.4.135) 
This shows that Gloucester's blindness to Edgar has not changed from the beginning of the novel to this current scene, and it continues. Once blinded Gloucester begins to realize that he was wrong about both Edmund and Edgar. He still does not recognize Edgar, who chooses to help Gloucester get to Dover. 

On the other hand, Gloucester and Kent have clarity about King Lear's situation when he is out in the storm. When it comes to other people's blindness, it often can be identified because it does not focus on your feelings and is less personal. Gloucester and Kent can tell that the King is going mad because of the trauma he has endured from his daughters. They are afraid that the King is losing his sanity and is not going to be able to recover. Kent and Gloucester are talking to each other, Kent first says, 
"Importune him once more to go, my lord. 
His wits begin t' unsettle." (3.4.169-170) Then Gloucester replies,
"Canst thou blame him? 
His daughters seek his death. Ah, that good Kent!.... (3.4.171-172) 
Thou sayest the King grows mad; I'll tell, thee 
I am almost mad myself." (3.4.174-176)
Gloucester can sympathize with King Lear because he has experienced a similar situation with his sons. He can understand why he is going mad and his reasoning behind it.  

All of these characters have weaknesses when it comes to love, Love can make people blind to reality and can have consequences in the long run. Both King Lear and Gloucester didn't get to appreciate Edgar's and Cordelia's love for them and in the end they missed the opportunity before they died. Pushing away loved ones is not always the answer to problems. In the end, always appreciate what you have before it's too late.