ACT 2, Scene 1 – Takes place at Gloucester’s castle- There is talk of Cornwall and Albany planning “likely wars” between each other ( goes against Lear’s wish to prevent “future strife” – A convo between Edgar and Edmund where Edgar follows his brother’s directions to ensure his own personal safety, there is an ambience of darkness in this scene with Edmund whispering which gives way to Edmund shouting and cutting himself
ACT 2, Scene 1 cont – Edmund alleges that his brother tried to incite him to murder Gloucester, and he does not question him at all is calls for Edagr’s exile or death: “Not in this land shall he remain uncaught;/And found, dispatch”- PARALLEL: Edgar’s position can be likened to Kent’s banishment. Gloucester also imitates Lear’s haste and error- Gloucester makes Edmund his legal heir: “Loyal and natural boy, I’ll work the means/ To make thee capable”
ACT 2, Scene 1 contt – Reagan arrives and has heard about the rift between her father and sister- Cornwall praises Edmund’s sense of duty and states that: “Natures of such deep trust we shall much need”- Cornwall is relying on G for support as he is independently wealthy and G calls him his “master”- Reagan comments on the disappearance of Edgar and links him the righteous knights that inflamed her sister – Reagan’s warped interpretation of events have been coloured by the report of events in her sister’s letter
ACT 2, Scene 2 – Kent and Oswald both acting as messengers meet in the courtyard. Kent begins to rail at Oswald for carrying letters full of dishonest reports about Lear- KENT: he is a nobleman, independantly wealthy however, being noble by nature he remains loyal to his master the king. He believes that Goneril is “Vanity the puppet” – Edmund arrives first and steps into part them
ACT 2, Scene 2 cont – Cornwall suggests that Kent is a man who exploits a reputation for frank speaking in order to conceal dishonest and devious intentions- Kent denies being the crafty type and mocks Cornwall in the style of flattery: “Whose influence like the wreath of radient fire/ On flick’ring Phoebus’ front” – Flattery with truth in redundant phrases, making comparisons with classical figures- Kent denies his flattery: ” I know, sir, I am no flatterer” – Cornwall orders for Kent to be put in the stocks and Kent argues that this shows a lack of reverence towards the king. Reagan makes it clear that now the two sisters are in charge- Kent’s Final words are prophetic, with the rising sun he reads a letter from Cordelia, that she will “restore” her father’s “losses” – Kent: “Nothing almost sees miracles,/ But misery: I know ’tis from Cordelia”
Act 2, Scene 3 – You see Edgar’s actual transformation in this scene, he is sometimes nakes such as, in the NT Sam Mendes production- He takes on the Bedlum beggars of shakespeare’s time, he legs are often scarred and torn at the flesh- Kent is still visable at the back of the stage – Edgar and Kent both use disguise for the same reasons…- self-preservation, both risk death, both are caught and undiscovered – As the play continues Kent’s loyalty with the king will be paralled with Edgar’s loyalty to Glouscester
Act 2 Scene 4 – Lear sees Kent in the stocks and suggests that it is “worse than murder”- The fool’s proverbial statement and rhyme emphasise that things are getting worse for Lear – talks about a proverb of wild geese, in which nobleman’s daughter, Lady Wildgoose tried to take over the running of her father’s assets (the message is that a child’s love for its father is conditional on his wealth)- When Lear sees Kent he exlaims “Hysterica passio!”- When Kent returns he sees that Lear’s knights have diminished in numbers and the fool uses winter as a symbol for ill fortune
Act 2 Scene 4, 2 – When Lear retruns his anger is emphasised through repititions in his speech of “they” and says words such as, “fiery” and “quality” – He also insists upon obideince by using imperitives such as, “Fetch”, “command”, “tell” and “Give me”- Lear’s emotional state is reflected in the breathless fractured rhythems of his speech as he explains to Regan what has happned however, she defends her sister’s interest- The critic Harley Granville Barker suggested that when Regan meets Goneril this is ths nadir of Lear’s fortunes, as clear stage blocking can suggest personal and political commitments – Goneril, Regan and Cornwall one one side, Goneril ignores Lear and Lear is on the other side
Act 2 Scene 4, 3 – Lear struggles to deal with his daughters dismissal of him- He again tries to asses love in measureable terms telling Goneril: “thou art twice her love”- Goneril: “What need you twenty and five? ten? of five?”- Regan: “What need one?” – Lear rejects the notion that human need can be determined by precise calculation. He argues that our requirements are the very basic necessities that human life worth no more than an animal’s – He argued that Regan’s fine clothes are superfluous: “Allow not nature more than nature needs, (…) Why nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear’st”
Act 2 Scene 4, 4 – Lear comes to terms that his daughters are now thinking alike – As his anger and turmoil increases, a storm breaks out and rain pours down and he states “O fool, I shall go mad”-The sisters tell Gloucester to offer to further hospitality to Lear: “Shut up your doors”
Act 3, scene 1 – A very short scene to communicate that information is moving rapidly- Kent is seperated fromhis master and meets a gentlemen officer- The gentlemen officer states that spies in the courts of Albany and Cornwall suggest that they are having disagreements – In the Quarto version there is also a message from Cordelia that she is rallying support for her father in France and giver Kent a ring – This symbolises that appearances can decieve: “I am much more/ Than my out-wall”
Act 3, Scene 2 – The storm comes – “Singe my white head; and thou all-shaking thunder,/ Crack nature’s mould, all germens spill at once” – wants the innihlation of nature – His speech is commanding and passionate with imperitive vocab: “blow”, “crack”, “rage”, “spout” – the storm comes from Lear himself – Harley Granville-Barker argues that the storm’s affect is on Lear, and he must take on the role of the old King as well as impersonating the storm – He is caught up with his own emotional turmoil and ignores the fool’s advice to seek shelter, his mind is obsessed with his “two pernicious daughters”- Lear has his first taste of real pyhysical suffering and echoes the words of Cordelia – “I will say nothing”
Act 3, Scene 2, 2 – Kent cannot first make out Lear and the Fool- the fool refers to himself as a “codpiece” and Lear as “grace”. However, the fool is also questioning which of them truly is the wise man and the fool – Lear emphasises the ferocity of the storm: “Unwhipped of justice” and how it has the capacity to strike fear into the hearts of sinners- Lear welcomes the storm and suggests that he is “a man/ more sinned against than sinning”- This is the first time Lear is seen to care about others as he asks the fool – “How dost, my boy? Art cold?” and agrees to take shelter – The fool’s prophecy recommends making the best of it, some critics argue that his words were written than someone other than shakespeare – The general jist is that after corruption, immorality and unhapiness Britian (Albion) will be returned to normailty and order- This maybe reffering to King James I’s optimistic vision of a unified Great Britain
Act 3, scene 3 – Gloucester confides in Edmund about how Lear is being mistreated- Regan and Cornwall have confiscated his goods – Edmund reacts as: “Most savage and unatural” – this could ironically be describing his own course of action- Gloucester states how he has recieved a letter from Cordelia – Edmund uses this for his personal gain and knows that his father’s estate and title are within immediate grasp
Act 3, scene 4 – kent has lead Lear and the fool to the shelter of a hovel- Lear’s physical suffering relieves anguish in his minds because “where the greater malady is fixed,/ The lesser is scarce felt”- the real storm is Lear’s mind and this is reflected in his short and fractured sentances: ” But I will punish home,/ No, I will weep no more- madness is arguably lear’s greatest fear- However, we see a reversal of order with Lear as he starts to put others before himself such as says to the fool “In, boy, go first”- Some critics argue that this has christian teachings. Lear’s prayer that starts with “Poor naked wretches” suggests that he knows that a King’s duty is to put his subjects before himself
Act 3, scene 4, 2 – ‘political’ critics stress that this shows that the wealthy have an obligation towards the poor (Noblesse Oblige, Benjamin Disareli)- The actor William Macready was said to have directed this at Queen Victoria in a performance she attended – The voice of Tom o’Bedlam is heard (a cry of despair, cackled laughter)- When Lear is confronted with another poor naked wretch he is concerned with what might have brought him so low, a sign of madness that he projects his own misfortunes upon the bedlam beggar (“Didst thou give all to thy daughters?”
Act 3, scene 4, 3 – At the height of the storm there is a convo between an emotionally unbalanced king, a young man pretending to be crazy, a profesh fool and a sane man endeavoring to restore order however, all talking about preocupations of the play – filial ingratitude, discarded fathers, crimes against family- Lear’s ramblings seem to have a thread of reasoning whereas, Edgar’s ravings are not but have an obsession with justice: “Keep thy/ words’ justice” – Lear takes pity on Lear and his compassion leads him to disrobing- He wants to strip himself of his “lendings” – the robes of authority- When Lear identifies the “unccommodated man”he abandons blank verse and adopts a prose speech and the tendency to sexual innuendo Poor Tom
Act 3, Scene 4, 4 -CONTEXT/ In Jacobean times there had to be references to lightness and darkness constantly. For example, when Gloucester is described as a “walking fire” and the need for people having to constantly identify others in the storm, Kent: “Who’s there? What is’t you seek”- Gloucester feels compassion towards Lear and cannot ignore him, like his leader he is obsessed with filial ingratitude – However, Gloucester unlike Lear does not recognise that he has played a part in his own misfortune and remains deluded – “I had a son/ Now outlawed from my blood”- As they all leave to find better shelter Edgar delivers lines that threat death and destruction: “Child Roland to the dark tower he came./ His word was still ‘fie, fo, and fum’;/ I smell to blood of a British man”
Act 3, scene 5 – The last lines of the previous scene, set the scene- Edmund and Cornwall are at Gloucester’s castle – “dark tower” where Edmund is planning to betray his own father- He shows Cornwall the letter that Gloucester knows about the approach of the French Army that are coming to restore Lear’s kingdom- Cornwall makes Edmund ” Edmund Earl of Gloucester” ( Gloucester’s land and tittle have been given to Edmund) and urges him to find and arrest his father – Edmund: “I will preserver in my course of loyalty, though through the conflict be sore/ between that and my blood” – this claim to be loyal to his blood is a blatant lie
Act 3, scene 6 – Gloucester tries to find better shelter for all, Kent wishes that he will be rewarded for his loyalty however, this is bitterly ironic as Gloucester will suffer at the hands of Regan and Goneril- The mood of the play is dark and Lear imagines representations of the last judgement painted of the walls of churches and exacting revenge on his daughters – “To have a thousand with red burning spits/ Come hizzing in upon ’em!”
Act 3, scene 6, 2 – In the Quarto there are 36 lines where Goneril and Regan are put to trial, it deals with recurring features of the play such as…- The folly of trusting flattering behaviour – “He’s mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf”- Neglect of duty to others – “sleepest or wakest, jolly shepherd?”- ill treatment of parents – “she kicked the poor King her father”- The difference between reality and appearance – “Cry you mercy’ I took you for a joint-stool”- There are theartrical reasons for keeping this section in a production as it can present visual echoes of previous scenes such as, the “love trial” and exemplify Lear’s madness- Edgar steps out of his “counterfeiting” madness and comments on how Lear is truly deranged
Act 3, scene 6, 3 – There is the final exchange between Lear and the Fool: ” Lear: we’ll go to supper i’th’ morning”/ Fool: And I’ll go to bed at noon” – in the NT 2013 and the 1982 RSC production the fool is killed by Lear at this point – Some critics argue that the Fool can no longer help Lear from this point- Gloucester feels as though he needs to save Lear and this is seen with the sense of urgency in his language and the lack of couplet endings suggesting that there might need to be sudden flight- In the Quatro version Edgar has a soliloquy at the end and talks of how isolation increases suffering and fellowship lightens it – “He childed as I fathered”
Act 3, scene 7 – At the start of the scene Cornwall is making military preperations to counter the invading army of France . They have been told that Lear’s diminished but loyal retinue has escaped – Gloucester is bundled in and bound like a criminal “I am tied to th’stake” – CONTEXT/ Jacobean playgoers would have likened this to an image of a helpless, baited bear, chained to a post which was common entertainment in those days. The bear would have been savaged by dogs. Goneril and Regan could symbolise the dogs – Goneril orders for Gloucester’s eyes to be plucked out, this would have been seen as a particurally cruel punishment, Goneril: “Pluck out his eyes”, Gloucester: “Pluck out his poor old eyes”
Act 3, scene 7, 2 – This extreme act of violence would usually take place offstage- At the London’s Old Vic, Johnathan Miller decided to conduct the blinding offstage. However, the extreme violence can be heard in Cornwall’s words: “Upon these eyes of thine I’ll set my foot”- A servent intervenes and is seen to have a voice of compassion and reason and can see evil clearly. Even though he is lower born than his master he is seen to possess a nobler nature- He is stabbed in the back by Regan and only wounds Cornwall- Cornwall finishes the act of Gloucester’s blinding and the final twist can be metaphorical of the heart – Regan reveals that it was his son who informed upon him and ironically Gloucester sees the truth
Act 3, scene 7, 3 – In the Quatro version, the two servants find Tom o’Bedlam to act as a guide and get whites of eggs to sooth his eyes- In Peter Brook’s 1962 production he cut the episode and brought up the house lights whilst Gloucester groped about blindly on stage to heighten the impression of harshness
Act 4, scene 1 – Edgar at the sight of his blind father knows that the worst is yet to come: “The worst is not/ So long as we can say ‘This is the worst'”- Gloucester sees a bleak assessment of human life and how it is insignificant and cruel: “As flies to wanton boys are we to th’gods;/ They kill us for their sport” – Gloucester sees how he was misjudged his legitimate son but how it is too late to set things right, he talks of committing suicide at Dover – Edgar does not reveal his true identity to his father maybe because a mad beggar leading a blind man at this time would attract little attention from political enemies – Edgar reaches out to this father: “Give me thy arm./ Poor Tom shall lead thee”
Act 4, scene 2 – Oswald tells Goneril that Albany has expressed a dislike for her and a favouring of Lear’s cause- She likens this is Albany’s reluctance to engage in a war with France – With a kiss she proposes to take command of Albany’s forces and to carry a message to cornwall and Regan – Goneril’s admiration for Edmund is undisguised: “To thee a woman’s services are due” and her kiss is adulterous- Albany expresses his disgust at how the sisters have behaved towards their father: “Tigers, not daughters, what have you performed? (…) A father, and a gracious aged man, (…) Most barbarous, most degenerate, have you maddened (…) Like monsters of the deep” – Then by a messenger they are informed of Cornwall’s death and Albany sees some kind of justice: “This shows you are above,/ You justicers”- Goneril receives a letter from Regan which suggests that sexual rivalry will now pose a threat
Act 4, scene 2, 2 – In between scene 2 and 3 in the Quatro version there is another scene- There is an exchange of information between Kent and a gentleman about how the King of France has returned to his own country but left an army in Britain- Cordelia is seen to be moved to tears by the news of her father however, remaining “a queen/ over her passion” and her smiles are tears are likened to ” Sunshine and rain at once” – Kent argues that it is stars and not humans that have created daughters so utterly different: “Is it the stars,/ The stars above us, govern our conditions”
Act 4, scene 3 – The opening of this scene starts with beating drums and flags flying- Cordelia is seen as head of the army and has assumed a masculine role, it is evident that she is concerned for her father’s safety: ” All you unpublished virtues of the earth,/ Spring with my tears; be aident and remediate/ In the good man’s distress” – She can be seen in combat dress such as, in the NT 2013 production- Her words echo those of christ in the temple “O dear father/ It is thy business that I must go about” Christ: “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?”- she also makes her motives very clear: “No blown ambition doth our arms incite,/ But love, dear love, and our aged father’s right”
Act 4, scene 4 – Regan and Oswald exchange dialogue and Regan fears that Gloucester’s pitful plight will create enemies and reports that Edmund is now even seeking to kill him – She also starts to become suspicious of Edmund’s and her sister’s liaisons: “She gave strange oeilliads and most speaking looks/ To noble Edmund” – The scene contains much military information and presents a catalogue of evils such as murder and adultery – It also shows that the relationships between the sisters are fracturing
Act 4, scene 5 – Edgar disguised as Poor Tom tries to protect Gloucester from harm- He lies to his father and pretends that they are ascending a steep hill and that they are at the cliff top near the sea- With sentences full of onomatopoeia and assonance he gives the allusion that there is sea crashing “The murmuring surge,/ That on th’unnumbered idle pebble chafes/ Cannot be heard so high” – Theatrically this is one of the most stunning scene of the play, there needs to be no scenery, only an empty level stage and Shakespeare’s language uses the power of suggestion to create illusions of height and seascape – Such simple staging produces dazzling theatre, charged with dramatic irony
Act 4, scene 5, 2 – Edgar again changes his idenity and takes on the accent of a west country folk, he suggests that Gloucester has been lead to suicide by a horned demon and that Gloucester’s preservation has been miraculous: “Think that the clearest gods, who make them honours/ Of men’s impossibilities, have preserved thee” – the two plot lines merge and Lear enters as he wears flowers and weeds in most productions – his thoughts are nonsensical and disconnected looking at major themes of the play such as kingship, authority and respect – lear’s first utterance is to do with kingship “No they cannot touch me for crying. I am the King himself” . Although Lear is not dressed as a king he believes he still has authority as kings are made not made “Nature’s above art in that respect” – Jacobean audience would have related to the concept of the divine right
Act 4, scene 5, 3 – He also has thoughts that he is counter attacking Goneril and Regan’s army – Something of Gloucester’s appearance reminds him of his daughters and how disrespectful they were “They flattered by like a dog and told me I had the white hairs”- He also recalls the storm and how powerless he felt against it and that at the end of the day he is a man and is subject to human frailty: “They told me I was everything; tis a lie, I am not ague-proof”
Act 4, scene 5, 4 – When Lear sees Gloucester’s wounded eyes which is usually a punishment for adultery he embarks on a rant about sex- He imagines all of nature to be engaged in sex: “let copulation thrive” and shares his disgust about his own daughter’s “Got ‘tween the lawful sheets”- In one of his tortured visions he sees the female genitals become the source of the burning diseases of infected sex: “There’s hell, there’s darkness, there is the sulphurous pit/ burning, scalding, stench, consumption” – Lear and Gloucester have a heart to heart conversation full of references to eyes and seeing- Gloucester states “I see it feelingly” and Lear argues that sight is not the only way through which man can understand things – “look with thine ears”
Act 4, scene 5, 5 – Lear’s symbolic disrobing continues in this scene as he is told to remove his shoes- He goes around barefoot like a child/ beggar- However, he offers his dearest sense (eyesight) to Gloucester and shows a gentleness towards him – Lear realises that on this “great stage of fools” he needs to learn how to defend himself – “And when I have stol’n upon these son-in laws,/ Then Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill” – Lear assumes that Cordelia’s troops have come to arrest him and the gentlemen see the depths to which Lear has sunk “A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch,/ Past speaking of in a King” – Edgar’s requests for reports of the war’s progress takes the scene into its final movement – Oswald sees an oppourtunity for self-advancement in the “proclaimed prize” and tries to kill Gloucester however, is stopped by Edgar who assumes a new accent or the rural style – Edgar wounds Oswald significantly
Act 4, scene 5, 6 – Out of Gloucester’s hearing Edgar opens the letter…- Its states that Goneril is in love with Edmund and wants him to kill Albany- Edgar goes on his way to find Albany and to bury Oswald’s body- Gloucester wishes that he was mad like the king so he could forget his sorrows: “The king is mad. How stiff is my vile sense (…) Of huge sorrows! Better I were distract”
Act , scene 6 – in this scene kent, Cordelia and Lear are united- Cordelia prays for her fathers mental health to be restored- In this scene lear can be in ceremonial robes and sometimes carried in by a chair- Cordelia bestows a kiss of restoration and her words express compassion ” Was this a face/ To be opposed against the warring winds?”- Lear takes a while to revive however, when he does he uses a cosmic image that combines the mythology of the earth, heaven and hell: “Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears/ Do scald like molten lead”
Act 4, scene 6, 2 – Cordelia kneels and asks for her father’s blessing and Lear attempts to do the same but Cordelia stops him – Lear talks of his advanced age simply and genuinely: “Pray do not mock me/ I am a very foolish, fond old man (…) I fear I am not perfect in mind”- suddenly Lear’s madness is evaporated and he recognises others – Lear recognises the wrongs that he has done against Cordelia: ” If you have poison I will drink it (…) You have some cause; they have not”- Cordelia replies with full forgiveness “No cause, no cause” and offers her father her arm – hope, forgiveness, reconciliation and regeneration seem very close but so do the rumble of the drums
Act 5, scene 1 – The splendour of drum and flags starts the act- Regan thinks that Oswald has miscarried- Regan asks Edmund directly if he has slept with her sister and delivers the ominous threat: “I shall never endure her” – The rivalry between the sisters surfaces directly as neither will allow the other to be on their own with Edmund- Edgar hands Albany a letter which reveals the intimacy between Goneril and Edmund and asks him to summon a champion in order to win in battle – Edmund’s solliqiuy shows traits of ruthelessness and self-seeking …- He notes the either Goneril or Regan must die- Albany must die – Lear and Cordelia must die – “for my state/ Stands on me to defend, not to debate”
Act 5, scene 2 – The signal for the battle begins – “Alarrum within”- Edgar sits Gloucester down in a safe spot and states “If ever I return to you again/ I’ll bring you comfort”- the interval between Edgar’s departure and return shows a striking image of an old, blind, helpless man – Edgar brings back bad news that Cordelia and Lear have been held captive – Edgar calls for patience and endurance: “What, in will thoughts again? Men must endure”
Act 5, scene 3 – Edmund’s triumphant entrance signals his rise to the top of the wheel of fortune- Cordelia states that: “We are not the first/ Who with best meaning have incurred the worst” – Lear wants to go straight to prison where he can enjoy time with his daughter “like birds i’th’cage”- he imagines how he will “kneel down/ and ask of thee forgiveness” and “pray, and sing and tell old tales, and laugh/ At gilded butterflies”- He imagines how their walled prison will act as a defence from the fickle nature of the political wrangling: “packs and sects of great ones/ That ebb and flow by th’moon”- CONTEXT: The Jacobeans saw the moon as inconstant, Shakespeare uses it and its influence on the tides here to reflect the instability of the court under its new leadership- Lear believes that in prison they will enjoy immunity from the political circus
Act 5, scene 3, 2 – Lear tells Cordelia how the gods will look kindly upon their sacrifices- Lear cannot believe his good fortune about being reunited with Cordelia “a brand from heaven”- Cordelia’s tears make her father defiant against their enemies: “Wipe thine eyes/ The goodyears shall devour them” – Edmund now puts into action his attention to kill Lear and Cordelia- Moments later Albany, Regan and Cordelia arrive- There is a power struggle between Albany and Edmund which is rather formal. Albany states that he is a subject and now equal and Regan upholds Edmund’s status – She declares that she is going to marry Edmund and uses words of military surrender: “General,/ take thou my soldiers”
Act 5, scene 3, 3 – Albany switches to using familiar pronouns such as “thee” and “thy” rather than respectful pronouns when addressing Edmund and claims that his wife has had prior claim to Edmund- Albany shows his moral and social superior position by throwing down his glove as a direct challenge to Edmund – the challenge is a dual or a combat – Regan has now become very ill and this is only noted by delighted Goneril who suggests that it is “medicine” – Edmund rather than accepting Albany’s duel throws down his own glove this arrogance is lost on Albany as he has a champion waiting and a proclamation already prepared to hand to the Herald
Act 5, scene 3, 4 – The sick Regan is escorted to Albany’s tent and the champion is summoned on trumpet call, on the third Edgar’s trumpet is heard in reply – Edgar appears armed and helmeted – Edmund disdains to follow the accepted tradition that gives him the right to know his opponent’s status for him it is enough that the newcomer “looks so fair and warlike”- When Edmund falls, albany orders a reprieve as Edmund is worth more to him alive for the moment – Goneril claims that the fight is unfair and the proper procedure has not been carried out- He orders Edmund to read the letter which reveals Goneril’s plot and she snatches it away- Faced with the incriminating letter Edmund reveal his guilt and asks to know the identity of his opponent and Edgar reveals himself – “the gods are just, and of our pleasant vices/ Make instruments to plague us”
Act 5, scene 3, 5 – Edmund agrees that “the wheel has come full circle”, his fortune once so high has brought him to death- Edgar tells of the death of Gloucester and his own regret that he did not ask his father’s blessing in time – A gentlemen brings the bloody knife of which Goneril has committed suicide with – Albany orders both of the bodies to be brought out on stage- Kent demands Edmund to tell him where Lear and Cordelia are – Edmund: “Be brief in it – to th’castle” – Edmund reveal the full treachery of his plan- Lear enters with Cordelia in his arms: “howl, howl, howl, howl!” } some critics argue that this is reminiscent of Christ’s body being taken down from the cross, most Jacobeans would have seen this as an image of redemption
Act 5, scene 3, 6 – Lear calls for “men of stones” and asks for the sky to crack itself “heaven’s fault” – Lear also looks for signs to see if Cordelia is still alive: “If that her breath will mist or stain the stone/ Why then she lives”, “This feather stirs, she lives” – kent, Albany and Edgar all comment on the tragic sight- Kent asks if its the day of judgement – “the promised end”- Albany’s “fall and cease” seems to call to the heavens to end this human suffering- Kent asks at this moment to ask for Lear’s recognition to help however, Lear is still reluctant to accept it ” Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha?”- Lear recognises Kent who stands before him, but Kent wants him, to realise that Kent has stayed loyal to him throughout his sufferings – News of Edmund’s death has arrived but is dismissed by Albany as irrelevance
Act 5, scene 3, 7 – Albany declares that he will restore Lear to the crown and return titles to Kent and Edgar, he wants to give justice – “The wages of their virtues” – Lear rages at the injustice of Cordelia’s death – “Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life” – Lear dies from a broken heart, Edgar tries to revive him but Kent stops him – Edgar: “He faints. My lord, my lord!”- Kent believes that he will shortly join Lear in death “I have a journey, sir, shortly to go”
Act 5, scene 3, 8 – Edgar takes on the heavy responsibility of ruling a kingdom on his own – His words closing the play signify that he is aware of the demands of his new position – “The weight of this sad time we must obey/ Speak what we feel, not what we out to say/ The oldest hath borne most; we that are young/ Shall never see so much, nor live so long”
King Lear – King Lear is a complex character and this is because he does not have a single tragic flaw- Lear starts as a man “hath ever but slenderly known himself”- However, at the end he is able to accept his weaknesses such as., “I am a very foolish old man”- This self knowledge is a sign that he is recovering from his sanity and his most complete moment of happiness occurs when he is reconciled with Cordelia and looking forward to being with her – The energy of his speeches makes it possible to forget that King Lear is a very old man. He wishes to unburden himself of the “cares and businesses” of government and keep “the name”, the prestige, honours titles and ceremonies and this is a tragic mistake
King Lear 2 – The fatal decision is very much Lear’s free choice, determined by himself and this is arguably a rejection of predestination”- Shakespeare emphasises this by having Kent and the fool tell the king time and time again in the first two acts that he has done the wrong thing Lear however, ignores this and all the warnings of others and this is a denial of reality which is the beginning of his madness- For Shakespeare the division of the kingdom is seen as an image of chair as power cannot be separated from responsibility