Saturday, 31 October 2015

King Lear ( notes continued)

King Lear (Continued)

10.  “Ha, ha!, he wears cruel garters.  Horses are tied by the head, dogs and bears by the neck, monkeys by the loins and men by the legs; when a man’s overlusty at legs, then he wears wooden netherstocks
These words are said by Fool when he saw King Lear shocked at the shameful, miserable condition of Kent imprisoned in the stocks. It is in Act II of Shakespeare’s play “King Lear”.
  On seeing Kent in the stocks, the fool says that Kent wears cruel garters. Horses are tied by their heads, dogs and bears by their necks, monkeys by their loins and men by their legs. The Fool jokingly remarks that Kent has been wearing wooden stocks for his entertainment.
11.  O heavens,
If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
Allow obedience, if yourselves are old,
Make it your cause; send down and take my part!
These words are said by King Lear in the Iind Act of the play.  On seeing Oswald and Goneril, Lear is deeply agitated and prays to gods to give him courage to face the situation. If the gods have any love for the old men, and if the gods also need and expect obedience from people, if gods themselves are old, King Lear requests them to consider his case as their own and help him. He also requests gods to send him messengers to fight against his two wicked daughters.
These lines show the helplessness of King Lear. He is a toy in the hands of his two daughters. They are very cruel and selfish. If the gods don’t believe his words, let them send their messengers to the earth and they can learn how cruel and selfish these two daughters.
12.  When the Mind’s free
The body’s delicate: the tempest in my mind
Doth from my senses take all feeling else
Save what beats there.
These words are said by King Lear in Act III of Shakespare’s play of the same title. The two wicked daughters did not give shelter to Lear and he is now wandering on the heath in heavy rain and storm.  Kent requests Lear to enter the hovel, so that he might be protected from heavy rain and storm. The cruelties of his daughters and the unexpected misery and poverty have made the King a semi-mad man. King Lear speaks about the nature of human mind and body, like a philosopher. When the mind is free from sorrow and pain, human body feels pain and physical sufferings. On the other hand when the mind is full of sorrow and tension, physical body does not feel any pain. Now the King is suffering from great mental pain and sufferings. As a result, he does not feel any physical pain due to the bad weather.
13.  Child Rowland to the dark tower came;
His word was still, - Fie, foh, and fum.
I smell the blood of a British man.
This famous Scottish Ballad lines are recited by Edgar in Act III of Shakespeare’s play “King Lear”. King Lear, Kent, Gloucester and the Fool are on the heath in heavy rain and storm. At the end of the scene, Gloucester requests the King to go with him to the farm house near his castle. But the king said that he would go only with Edgar to the farm house. When they are going to the farm house, Edgar recites the Ballad lines.
The Ballad tells us the story of Child Rowland and the Giant. Child Rowland’s sister Helen was kidnapped by a sea monster and she was imprisoned in a magic castle. Child Rowland travelled many seas and lands to search for his sister and reached the dark castle. Helen helped Child Rowland to hide in a secret place in the tower. But when the giant came, he smelt the blood of a British man. Robert Browning has written a poem based on this Scottish legend.
14.  He childed as I fathered! – Tom away!
These words are said by Edgar in Act III of the play “The King Lear” written by William Shakespeare. Edgar disguises himself as a mad man called “Tom O Bedlam.” Gloucestor comes to the heath where King Lear is sheltered and tells Kent that the cruel daughters planned to kill King Lear. So Gloucestor has made arrangements to take the King safely to Dover. When they all have left the scene, Edgar is alone on the stage. He makes this soliloquy. Edgar says that the sufferings of a man are reduced to minimum, when he sees the sufferings of other important people. Now Edgar watches the sufferings of King Lear and he thinks that his sufferings are smaller than that of the King. The Kings daughters Goneril and Regan have made the King’s life miserable and poor. He was insulted and rejected by them. Similarly Edgar is rejected by his own father whom he loved deeply.  The King has cruel daughters as Edgar has a cruel father. Thus there is a strong parallelism between the main plot and the sub plot.
15.  As flies to wanton boys, are we to gods’
They kill us for their sport.
These philosophical words are said by Gloucester to an old man who helps the blind old Gloucester in his walking along the heath. It occurs in Act IV of Shakespeare’s play “King Lear”. On the way the old man saw Edgar who disguises himself as “Tom O Bedlam”. When the blind Gloucester asked the old man who was there. The old man replied that it was poor mad Tom. Goucester has remarked that in the previous night he was on the heath and saw a mad beggar. The beggar reminded him of his son Edgar who had loved him but Gloucester was cruel to his son and banished him. Now Gloucester is sorry for his mistake. He says that his bastard son Edmund is the cruel villain and Edgar is innocent. Gloucester says that human beings suffer such miseries and sorrows because of the cruel rules of gods. Human beings are mere flies for the entertainment of gods. They kill human beings for their pleasure.
16.  You do me wrong to take me out o’ the grave:
Thou art a soul in bliss; but I am bound
Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears
Do scald like molten lead
These words are said by King Lear to his daughter Cordelia in Act IV of Shakespeare’s play “King Lear”. When the King wakes up, Cordelia greets him with kind words. But the King is ashamed of his own cruelties to his daughter Cordelia and now the king is apologetic. He tells her that she is an angel from heaven, while he is punished by God and sent to hell. Now she has come from heaven and raises him up from his grave. He is attached to the wheel of fire and he is burnt day and night in the hellish world. When the king is burnt alive day and night, his tears are dropped like leaden drops. “Wheel of fire” is an instrument of torture in hell.
In the words of King Lear we can see the echo of guilt and repentence. The king had not given her any share of the kingdom. Instead he has divided his kingdom between his two daughters Goneril and Regan. But they insulted and rejected the king. Still Cordelia loves her father and is willing to look after him.
17.  And take upon’s the mystery of things;
As if we were God’s spies: and we’ll wear out,
In a walled prison, packs and sects of great ones,
That ebb and flow by the moon.                               OR
18.  He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven,
And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes:
The good years shall devour them, flesh and fell
Ere they shall make us weep
These words are said by King Lear to his beloved daughter Cordelia in Act V, scene III. These lines show that love is everlasting. Hear we see King Lear expresses his deep love for Cordelia when they are taken as prisoners of war. The defeat in the war and its consequences don’t upset the old king because his beloved Cordelia is with him in the same cell in the prison. Even the prison is a heavenly place when love rules there!  The war has resulted in the complete defeat of King Lear and his army. Edmund comes victorious. King Lear and Cordelia are taken as prisoners of war. Cordelia asks her father if they can see Regan and Goneril. Lear does not want to see the cruel daughters. But he will be happy in the prison with his dear Cordelia.
In the prison they will sing like birds. When Cordelia wants blessings, the King will kneel down and begs pardon from her for his cruelties to Cordelia.  They will spend time singing and praying together. Just like children, they will laugh at gilded butterflies and hear the stories. They will pretend to be the messengers of god to listen to the life and problems of people. They are like the spies of gods in heaven. The king hopes that the reunion of the father and the daughter will be permanent. If any one wants to separate them, he must possess godly power and drive them out of their union, as foxes are smoked out of their holes.
19.  I pant for life; some good I mean to do
Despite of mine own nature.
These words are said by Edmund, the bastard son of Gloucester in the end of the play “King Lear”. The wheel of fortune has come full circle and Edmund is now facing the retribution. He is mortally wounded by Edgar in the duel. The dead bodies of Regan and Goneril are brought in. Although he won the war, God’s punishment is inevitable for Edmund for his evil doings. Now he has repented. But it was late. He says that he wants to do some good things, although his nature is basically evil. He tells others that he has ordered the death of Cordelia and King Lear. So he asks Edgar to send some one at once to save the lives of both Cordelia and Lear. But alas! Edmund could not save the life of them. That means, he could not do anything good, because it was too late. After some time Edmund himself died of his wounds.
20.  O you mighty gods!
This world I do renounce, and, in your sights,
Shake patiently my great affliction off:
These words are said by Gloucester to gods just before he commits suicide by jumping off the cliff. It occurs in Act IV of Shakespeare’s play “King Lear”.  Edgar has made Gloucester believe that he is at the highest point of the Dover cliff. Edgar has given him a beautiful picture of the cliff. Gloucester falls forward with the plan of killing himself. But he is not even hurt. Before his death, Gloucester has made a prayer to gods. He kneels down and prays to god that he is going to reject this world, because he has been blinded by the Duke of Cornwall and Regan. They plucked away his two eyes and he was asked “to smell his way to Dover.” On the way the blind man met his son Edgar who disguises himself as mad Tom O Bedlam. He is very sad to see his father blinded. He becomes the companion of his father and teaches him a moral lesson. Edgar asks him what thing was it that parted from him on the top of the cliff. Gloucester said that it was a beggar. But Edgar tells him that it was a fiend in the guise of a beggar.
1.      “King Lear is a man more sinned against than sinning”, Discuss
2.      Discuss “Ingratitude” as the theme of “King Lear”
3.      Consider “King Lear” as a typical Shakespearean tragedy
“King Lear” is a typical Shakespearean tragedy. Shakespearean tragedy such as Othello, Macbeth, Hamlet do not exactly follow Aristotle’s concept of tragedy. Aristotle had laid down certain principles for a tragedy. According to Aristotle, a tragedy requires a tragic hero of high standing who must oppose some conflicting force. There should be some tragic fault in the character of the hero and this defect is called hamartia that leads to the downfall of the hero. In Greek Tragedy, for example “Oedipus Rex” Destiny is a great power which brings ruin upon the good and the bad alike.

 In King Lear, the characters suffer from the irrational power of Destiny or Fate. Even in the subplot Gloucester and Edgar suffer from evils of Fate. It is cruel fate that King Lear fathered two “pelican daughters” who have eaten him up. Lear and Cordelia suffer from the cruel judgement of the evil Fate. Cordelia was defeated in the war and made a prisoner of war and finally he was killed by the order of Edmund, the bastard son of Gloucester. Similarly Gloucester was blinded by cruel Fate. His two eyes were plucked out and he was asked “to smell his way to Dover”. Poor Edgar loved his father Gloucester and his reward was banishment.  He had to disguise himself as mad Tom O Bedlam.

In King Lear the tragedy is set in motion when the King foolishly decides to divide his kingdom among his three daughters according to the degree of their love for him. The second stage of the tragedy begins when the curt reply of Cordelia angers the foolish king.  She says that she has nothing to say. The king is shocked at this reply and he says “ nothing will come of nothing”. The King is angry with Cordelia and divides his kingdom between his two daughters Goneril and Regan. Even the trusted companion of Lear is angry and asks the King not to do such injustice. But the foolish King has no tolerance. Kent is banished. The king also banishes Cordelia.  The king of France approves of Cordelia’s inner qualities and marries her. Thus the king has made his own grave with the tool of his foolish decision. His down fall begins when he plans to visit Goneril with his hundreds of earls and knights. The king is humiliated, insulted by her servants such as Oswal. Yes, ingratitude is the theme of Shakespeare’ play “King Lear”.

Tragedy in “King Lear” is three-fold. The first tragedy involves King Lear and Cordelia. The second tragedy comes from the sufferings of Kent for no fault of his. The third tragedy falls on the wicked daughters Goneril and Regan. Both them compete each other to marry Edmund who is a rascal. Both Goneril and Regan are killed.  Edmund is killed by his own brother Edgar. Regan is poisoned to death by her own sister Goneril. Finally Goneril killed herself. Lear and Cordelia are also killed. We can say that Lear is killed by his own foolish ideas. But  why Cordelia is killed. Cruel and irrational Fate has given her a tragic death.  As in Greek Tragedy, internal and external conflicts are essential part of any Shakespearean tragedy. Goneril and Regan are wicked and cruel by nature. On the other hand, Cordelia is angelic, just as Desdimona in “Othello”. Cordelia is full of love for her father. Yet why she cannot express her love to her father in sweet words. Instead she said “ According to my bond; nor more, nor less. As Kent aptly said, “It is the stars, the star above us govern our conditions” - As Kent aptly said, “It is the stars, the star above us govern our conditions” – Yes, it is the cruel Fate that rules every one in the tragedy “King Lear”.

King Lear is intolerant, hot tempered and foolish. Still what crime he has committed to suffer such humiliation from his two daughters? Nothing. He simply gives away his kingdom between his two daughter when they praise him upto the sky. It is not a crime, after all. You can say it is foolish. Goneril and Regan join hands to reject and insult the king. They drive him away from their homes. Now the King is wandering about the heath in heavy rain and storm. He is now escorted by the Fool comforting the king. The sufferings have tortured his mind and he becomes a lunatic.  He is angry with the elements such as violent wind and heavy rain.  When he is at war with the elements he confesses the truth: “I am a man more sinned against than sinning”.  In the height of his insanity, Lear remembers when he was the king of England he could not help the poor people. He also remembers that his madness has been caused by his foolish generosity and his two daughters’ ingratitude.

 When Edgar appears as mad Tom o Bedlam, Lear says that the mad beggar also fathered two “pelican daughters” and they rejected him from their homes. In the farm house close to Gloucester’s castle, Lear makes a mock trial of his ungrateful “pelican daughters” Goneril and Regan. He appoints Edgar, the Fool and Kent as judges. Finally he wakes up from his sleep and meets Cordelia. Lear is no longer mad. He has come back to sense and he says that she is an angel from heaven and he is suffering from God’s punishment. He is upon a “wheel of fire”. But that happiness does not last long. King Lear and his army was defeated and King Lear and Cordelia are prisoners of war. Still King Lear is happy because his beloved daughter is with him in the prison and they will sing songs like birds.But Cordelia is killed by Edmund. The King sits by the deadbody of Cordelia. He cannot believe his eyes. He says “ my poor fool is hanged”. He tries his best to wake her up. But she will never wake up from her eternal sleep. The King falls dead beside the body of Cordelia. As blinded Gloucester says: “ As flies to wanton boys are we to gods; They kill us for their sport”.

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