Saturday, 31 October 2015


King Lear

                                                                                            William Shakespeare
Answer the following in not more than three sentences each:
1.      How does the Fool compare and contrast Goneril and Regan?
The fool in the play King Lear jokingly remarks that only a fool could think there is any real differnce between Regan and Goneril. They differ in the same way a crab differs from a crab apple, both are sour. Similarly both Regan and Goneril are wicked and hot tempered.
2.      What is Goneril’s complaint against King Lear’s men?
Goneril complains that Lear’s hundred knights and squires who are disorderly and drunkards changed the palace into a tavern or brothel.  The palace has been spoiled by their ill manners and their gluttony
3.  How does the Fool compare and contrast truth and flattery?
The Fool identifies himself with truth. He says that truth is an unwanted stray dog driven out of home into a dirty shelter. On the other hand flattery, the bitch enjoys the privileged place. Regan and Goneril are the flattery bitch. Cordelia is the truth.
4.  “Since my young lady’s going into France, sir, the fool hath much pined away”  What do we gather about the relationship between the Fool and Cordelia?
There is great affection between the Fool and Cordelia, because she is full of love for everyone in the palace. That is why the Fool is very sad when Cordelia goes to France.
5.  How do you judge Cordelia’s attitude towards her father?
Cordelia is too honest to practice even a little tactfulness.  There is a close resemblance between Cordelia and her father King Lear. Both of them are rash, impatient and self-willed. A little judgement would have enabled Lear to see through the hypocrisy and insincerity of his two daughters, Regan and Goneril.  Similarly a little judgement would have enabled Cordelia to save her father from the cruelty of his daughters. Thus, both Lear and Cordelia want of a little judgement.
6.  Who is the bastard son of Gloucester? What does he confess to Kent?
Edmond is the bastard son of Gloucester and Edmond was brought up by the expenses of Gloucester.
He says that he has no shame to admit Edmond as his bastard son.
7.  How would King Lear divide his kingdom?
King Lear would divide his kingdom among his three daughters, Goneril the eldest, Regan, the second and Cordelia the third. First of all, King Lear wanted to test their affection for him and the largest share of kingdom would go to the daughter who loves him the most.
8.  Explain the dramatic significance of the problem of deciding the kingdom among the three daughters
The son-in-laws cannot claim that one share is better than the other. The two elder daughters-Goneril and Regan flatter their father to get more, because they know that their father King Lear is very fond of flattery. On the other hand Cordelia is sincere and full of love, but she is as obstinate as her father and her plain speaking makes the King angry and he has rejected Cordelia and the developments become the plot of the play.
9.  Why does Edmund prefer foreign lands?
Edmund has been an outcast thanks to his illegitimate birth. He has been abroad seeking his fortunes there because his illegitimate birth is unknown there.
10. What is the reply that Cordelia gave Lear when asked about her account of love for him?
When Lear asked Cordelia about her love for him, her reply is “nothing”. She says that she loves him neither less nor more than a daughter loves her father.
11. What made Lear strike Osewald?
When King Lear asked Oswald if he knew who Lear was, Oswald replied that Lear was his lady’s father.  This statement infuriated Lear and he struck Oswald.

Write short notes on the following, each in a paragraph of about 120 words

1.      The dramatic significance of the opening scene of King Lear
The opening scene of King Lear is the best example for Shakespeare’ dramatic skill. He introduces almost all the important characters except Edgar on the stage. Secondly he introduces the main plot and the subplot in the opening scene itself. The opening scene strikes the key note of the play which is the foolish and impetuous nature of King Lear which bring to him battalions of misfortunes. The main plot is the foolish impetuous decision of King Lear to divide his kingdom among his three daughters according to the degree of their love for him. Naturally the two elder daughters competed each other using ornamental words and phrases to win the maximum share, because they know well that their father is very fond of flattery. On the other hand, Cordelia is sincere and full of love for her father. But she is as obstinate and self willed as her father and earned his wrath. She gains nothing. The foolish king even banishes his loyal and honest courtier the Earl of Kent for speaking reason.  The King of France notices the real worth and innate goodness of Cordelia and so he says,” most rich, being poor, most choice, forsaken; and most loved, despised! Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon”. Cordelia becomes his wife. The sub plot is concerned with Gloucester and his sons, Edgar and Edmund. Edmund is Gloucester’s bastard son, while Edgar is the legitimate one.  The former is a villain and the latter is full of love, loyalty and valour. He is parallel to Cordelia, while Edmund is to Goneril and Regan. 


1.  “Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
My heart into my mouth; I love your majesty
According to my bond; nor more nor less”
 These lines occurs in the opening scene of William Shakespeare’s famous play King Lear. These words are said by Cordelia to her father King Lear when he asked how much she loved him.
Cordelia heard what her two elder sisters had told the king about their love for him. It was downright hipocricy and there was not an inch of honesty in their reply. They really fooled their father. But Cordelia wants to be sincere. She knows that her love for her father is deeper than that of her two elder sisters. She also thinks that love cannot be described by mere ornamental words and phrases for the benefit of some material gain such as a portion of the kingdom. So Cordelia tells her father that her feelings are so deep that she cannot express them  in mere words. She tells him that she loves him neither less nor more than a child loves her father.
But some critics are of the opinion that Cordelia should not have spoken in such manner to her aged and loving father.
2. The barbarous scythian
Or he hat makes his generation messes
To gorge his appetite, shall to my bossom
Be as well neighboured, pitied and relieved,
As thou my sometime daughter
These angry words are said by King Lear to his daughter Cordelia in the opening scene of the play. The foolish king wanted to test his daughters’ love for him and the two elder daughters Goneril and Regan praised their father lavishly knowing that he loved flattery. But Cordelia did not flatter her father.  Lear is greatly infuriated at the curt reply of Cordelia.
The king denounces his relationship with Cordelia by the name of the Sun, by the underworld demons and the heavenly bodies who are responsible for the life and death of everyone on the earth. He denounces her as a stranger for ever. The king angrily says that he would rather welcome the warlike people(Scythian) who eats his own children to satisfy his hunger than keeping Cordelia to his heart. The whole speech of King Lear shows that he lost his senses and he is on the verge of insanity.
3.  “I loved her most, and thought to set my rest
On her kind nursery”
These words are said by King Lear to the Earl of Kent when he advised the king to stop cursing Cordelia. It occurs in the opening scene of King Lear by William Shakespeare.
The king angrily asks Kent not to come between the dragon and his wrath. Then the king sadly recalls that he loved Cordelia most and wished to spend his last days in the loving care of his youngest daughter. But she does not express her love to him as he had expected from her. In his foolishness the king thinks that she is defiant and cruel to him. The infuriated king asked Kent to get out of his sight and the courtiers are horrified at this.
4.  Reverse thy doom;
And in thy best consideration, check
This hideous rashness: answer my life my judgement
Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least;
Nor are those empty hearted whose low sound
Reverbs no hollowness
5.  Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy doom;
Or, whilst I can vent clamour from my throat,
I’ll tell thee thou dost evil
In the opening scene of Act I in the play King Lear, the Earl of Kent says these words to the king.
When the king denounced Cordelia as his daughter, the Earl of Kent warns the king not to do such foolish thing.  Kent requests the king to withdraw his decree against Cordelia. Kent also says that he is willing to be executed if his judgement is proved wrong. He is sure that Cordelia loves the king more than the other daughters do. ‘Reverse thy doom’ means repeal your sentence or decree. He also requests the king that it is wrong to think that those who speak very little have no love for the king.

Kent declares that if Lear kills him, it will be just like killing one’s own doctor and the illness will not be cured.  Shakespeare uses the term ‘foul disease’ for moral corruption and also for mental disorder. The speech reveals the noble character of Kent who has full of love and respect for his master, King Lear.
6. The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long,
That it had its head bit off by it young,
So out went the candle, and we were left darkling
These words are said by the Fool in scene II of Act I of the play King Lear. The Fool is shocked at the insulting speech of Goneril. Throughout her talk, she accuses and finds fault with her father’s retinue. It is an indirect way of accusing her father King Lear.
The hedge-sparrow carefully looks after and brought up the cuckoo bird and when it grows up, the cuckoo kills the foster mother and eats. Goneril is compared to the cuckoo bird. The Fool concludes that the candle has gone out and the King and himself are in the dark.  The cuckoo laid eggs in other birds nest and cuckoo chicks are having murderous gluttony. Similarly Goneril has taken away more than half of the kingdom and now trying to kill her father with poisoned words!
7.  Ingratitude, thou marble hearted fiend,
More hideous when thou showest thee in a child
Than the sea monster!
These words are said by King Lear to his daughter Goneril in the IIIrd scene Act I of the play King Lear. In her palace, Goneril makes a long speech accusing her father and asks him to reduce the number of knights who are drunken, disordered and gluttonous. At this moment, Goneril’s husband Duke of Albany enters and Lear opens his mind and pours out his grief in the above words.
Lear cries out that Goneril is Ingratitude Personified.  Ingratitude is compared to a marble hearted devil.  It is more fearful than the sea-monster. The king is so sad that Goneril who has received more than half of the share of the kingdom is ungrateful to her aged, loving father. So the king curses her in these words.
8.  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:
These words are said by Edmund to himself, In his soliloquy Edmund says that he has deceived both his father and his brother Edgar. Gloucestor is foolish enough to believe whatever Edmund said. On the other hand Edgar is innocent enough to believe whatever Edmund said.  Edmund is the bastard son of Gloucestor. He knows well that he will not inherit the Earldom of Gloucestor. So he arranged a wicked plan to make Gloucestor and his legitimate son Edgar bitter enemies. Thus Edmund has succeeded in poisoning Gloucester’s mind against Edgar by a forged letter of Edgar. Edmund’s plan is to disinherit Edmund of his father’s wealth.

Now Edmund is happy that the foolish father Gloucester believes whatever he said to him about Edgar. Similarly Edgar is so noble and kind hearted that he also believes whatever his brother Edmund tells him. He does not suspect any one. Poor Edgar does not know his brother Edmond is the villain. Edmund has so far used Edgar as a tool to fool the aged Gloucester for his own selfish motive.     Kjt/31-10-2015

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