Context King Lear

Bastards in renaissance theater bastards were traditionally agents of distortion and evil
English reformation -ritual theory and practice revolution-Where before priests had acted as mediators between god and men, reformed theology declared the priesthood of all beleivers
Henry VIII Henry VIII had an acknowledged bastard son but declared his own daughters as illegitimate- audience would remember this memorable event
Quasi-legal notion Bastardy was flexible for those of noble blood
Mate Courtly speakers would use “mate” as a colloquial terme.g Richard III does in his greetings to the murderers of Clarence “how now my hardy mates!”
Letter of legitimacy Aristocratic fathers would give theirs sons a letter of legitimization to illegitimate offspring to allow inheritance and title.
Family and Religion -Close knit family-Bible passages on parenthood-Children were property of parents so were commanded to respect them -Religion brought families together as one
Gerontrocracy In Shakespeares England, only a small number of men held all the land, wealth and power
Sound effects Shakespeare’s generation were prior to the digital age, in order to create convincing sound effects Shakespeare would need to use linguistic devices.
What is the inspiration for Gloucester’s sub plot? Sidney’s Arcadia – tells story of a blind King with two sons, one of whom goes against him – when the blind king finds out about this he wishes to throw himself of a cliff – mirrors the story of Gloucester and his two sons.
Religion and the fates The references to astrology and pagan gods in the play remind us that Lear is set in a pre Christian era – Gloucester’s concerns about breaches in nature reflect Jacobean beliefs about witchcraft and magic
What is the significance of Cordelia and France being married There was conflict between England and France at the time, and political marriages were a social convention. To present the union sympathetically (A1S1) was radical.
Machiavellian qualities Immoral Behavior, Killing Innocents, Tyranny, Necessary Evil, Deceptive and oppressive political power, Public and Private Morality.
Edmund- malcontent A malcontent, a character type recognisable to the Jacobean audience as of John Marston’s ‘The Malcontent’.
What is a malcontent character? A character easily recognisable in early drama. Someone who is unhappy with the social structure and other characters. They are frequently outsiders.
What type of fool is King Lears fool? An artificial fool, one who entertains with wit and song, often at the expense of others.
What is interesting about the setting in King Lear? It is unconcerned with historical accuracy and is full of contemporary issues.
Context for “These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us.” (Gloucester) There were two real celestial phenomena around the time of writing, believed to be terrible omens, in this case of the Gunpowder plot.
How does Shakespeare mirror King Lear and James I? By their belief in their god given right to govern and that it was blasphemous to question the king.
What is “The Great Chain of Being”? A concept dating to Plato and Aristotle, the idea that there was a hierarchy of all living things beginning with God and ending in beggars, it reflected the natural and accepted order of society.
What was the effect on the audience of the setting in pre-Christian times? The tragedy of events such as Gloucester’s suicide attempt was lessened as they believed all kinds of ungodly, unnatural things could happen in pagan times.
Which other aspect of setting is confused? Set in pagan times with reference to pagan gods yet has an underlying Christian message in the journey of pain, suffering and humiliation.
What was blinding often a punishment for? A sexual crime
What is the Devil’s triad? The words the devil repeated as he descended into to hell, translating to “We all will perish”
“My father compounded with my mother under the Dragon’s Tail, and my nativity was under Ursa Major, so that it follows I am rough and lecherous.” Ptolemy assigned the fixed stars of Ursa Major like the disposition of Mars and Venus with Mars predominant. Here “rough” seems to correlate with Mars and “lecherous” with Venus. Mars is known as malicious and evil. Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos also saw the time of conception for a nativity as important as the time of birth. By stating, “my father compounded with my mother under the Dragon’s Tail” he implies he was blighted by evil astrological influence.