King Lear: Melody + Spectacle

Shakespeare uses melody and spectacle in a highly symbolic manner to communicate important ideas about the characters power in the play and their mental state.

Shakespeare does use melody and spectacle in a highly symbolic manner to communicate important ideas about the characters power in the play and their mental state for example, King Lear in the storm as he switches between verse and prose to highlight certain statements, melody.

{1.Provide an explanation of the difference between verse and prose. Identify how verse and prose is being used in the play at the moment.

The difference between verse and prose is that Verse is divided into stanzas and tends to have a regular rhythm whereas Prose is classed as “normal speaking” for that time period and everything that is not poetry is prose. Verse is being used at the moment in the quotation

“He that has and a little tiny wit,

  With hey, ho, the wind and rain,

Must make content with his fortunes fit,

  Though the rain in raineth everyday”

2. Explain the significance of the storm. Find two quotations that support your response. Hint: Look towards the beginning of the act.

The storm is of great significance in this play because it represents Lear and the way he changes from having ‘everything’ to ‘nothing’ almost and it is a massive symbol for ranking and Lear’s relationship with his daughters. A quote which shows the significance of the storm by Lear is;

“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. Then let fall

Your horrible pleasure.Here I stand your slave,

A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man.

But yet I call you servile ministers,

That will with two pernicious daughters join

Your high-endangered battles  ‘gainst a head

So old and white as tis! O, ho! ‘Tis foul!

3. Explain the situation that Gloucester finds himself in during this Act? What horrible thing happens to him and what is ironic about the situation? Find two quotations that deliver this event to the reader.

Gloucester finds himself worried about this situation and a loyal Gloucester decides that he will stay loyal to King lear and follow him into the storm as he is uncomfortable that he has been shut out. Gloucester  and trustingly trusts Edmund with this information which was a fatal mistake as Edmund was untrustworthy and Gloucester gets his eyes gouged out for assisting Lear.

Quotes that deliver this event to the reader:

“ Alack, alack, Edmund, I like not this unnatural

dealing! When I desired their leave that I might pity

Him, they took from me the use of mine own house;

Charged me on pain of perpetual displeasure neither

To speak of him, entreat for him, nor any way sustain him.”

-Gloucester talking to Edmund how he does not agree with this and feels pity, wanting to continue his loyalty to King Lear.

Another quote:

“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”-

-Edmund, who Gloucester Thought he could trust talking about how this information cannot be kept and that Gloucester is a traiter.

4. Lear makes some interesting statements about the weather and its connection to his mental state:

“Thou think’st ‘tis much that this contentious storm invades us to the skin…”

“…this tempest in my mInd doth from my senses take all feeling…”

  • What is a tempest? How does this provide a direct connection between Lear’s mental state and the raging storm outside.

A tempest is a violent and windy storm. This provides a direct connection between King Lear and the raging storm outside because this storm causes him to be swallowed up by insanity with the issue of his daughters and the kingdom becoming too much and the tempest which is the state of the storm shows his inner rage in a practical unrealistic way, connecting a direct connection between Lear and the storm/ tempest.

5. Lear is at the lowest of his fortune in this Act. He is experiencing the full effects of peripetia. He makes a reference to animals as he tears his clothes off in Act 3 Scene 4. Find it and explain how Shakespeare is using a mixture of imagery and the knowledge of the Great Chain of Being to show Lear at the height of his downfall.“LEAR
Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer with thy uncovered body this extremity of the skies.—Is man no more than this? Consider him well.—Thou owest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha! Here’s three on ’s are sophisticated. Thou art the thing itself.
Unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art.—
Off, off, you lendings! Come. Unbutton here. (tears at his clothes)}

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