We did a range of things in today's lesson.
We did some close analysis of the Fool's language and considered his dramatic role in the play. The extracts we considered were from Act II Sc IV. Whilst he displays many of the virtues of Cordelia, honesty, virtue and loyalty, his language contrasts with the plainness of Cordelia's. He is also never punished for his honesty, unlike Cordelia and Kent, and he certainly oversteps the the privileges of his role. In the extracts we looked at, the Fool's loyalty is much like a loyal son; interesting in a play where familial relationships are such a disaster.
In the play as a whole the Fool acts as a social commentator, a 'vehicle for pathos'. He can be played as a comic Fool, bitter Fool or even a tragic Fool. Fools were often kept by the monarchy to provide witticism and to remind the monarch of their humanity. The Fool provides these functions within the play and gives the audience something to laugh about too, particularly in bleak scenes. He reminds the audience of the chaos created by a fatal flaw on society; how the disharmony of those in status had adverse affects upon society at large because Lear has made his daughters his mothers.
We also considered the 'disappearance' of the Fool. There has been much speculation over what happens to the Fool and directors choose to keep, kill or ignore him. Some suggest the Fool is dropped when he is no longer needed. His purpose within the play is to try to get Lear to recognise his mistake; he is a positive character that tries to push Lear to the truth. Some critics think that once his purpose is achieved, Lear recognises his mistake, he is not needed within the play. It could also be that it would be inappropriate for a comic character to be in the bleak, tragic scenes towards the end of the play. It could also be that the Fool is played by the same person that plays Cordelia!
We also looked closely at Lear's fluctuating state of mind in this scene. He moves quickly from extreme anger to distress and despair. The natural law has been disturbed. Lear is in a helpless feminine role and the daughters are in power. It's important to consider how performance can emphasise Lear's madness and Goneril and Regan's cruelty. The juxtaposition of an emotionally broken old man and two very powerful women is captivating for an audience.
Finally, we looked at the Assessment Objectives for the coursework and some exemplar essays. A reminder then that this is worth 20% of your overall grade (40% for coursework. 60% exam). It should be 12oo-1500 words. It is imperative that you look at the AOs that you were given so that you know what to do well. You don't have to do a conventional essay; you can write a re-creative piece. You must write a commentary on this and the two are marked together. The AOs for this are here.
You have two homeworks this week (I know - I'm harsh). Think about the parts of the play you like the most. Don't underestimate how much better it is to write about aspects you like! You need to have chosen your title by next lesson so that I can send it off to the exam board for verification, it will need some tinkering and this is why I don't want you to start writing it yet. You also need to do a written piece in order to refine your writing skills. Therefore, you need to write the essay that you have already planned. As I'm not actually that harsh, it needs to be between 700-900 words. (900 is the absolute limit.) Look at the AOs as you will need to do some research of your own, but ensure it is referenced. If you are unsure about referencing I think this site is easy to understand and will serve you well throughout your further and higher education. We haven't looked at criticism yet, this is the plan for next lesson, so you need not worry about this AO too much (AO3ii).
Let me know if you have any questions. If you don't want to leave a comment you can always email me my school email (lcaldwell).
You will have lots to do before Christmas, but you'll have a nice research task over the holiday so you can rest then!
See you next week