Saturday, 11 December 2010

Right, a bit of help for those that need it...

It is essential to put the play into context. Integrate comments on context into your explanation of language/performance.
The political world had been a time of uncertainty. This site has extensive commentary on the background to King Lear. Don't be put off by the enormity of it! At the other end of the spectrum, if you want a very brief overview, look at Sparknotes.
When it comes to context (depending on your own question) consider politics, social change, justice, religion, madness and death and disease.

The language in King Lear shifts from formal, ceremonious register to informal and conversational. It is a times bombastic and at others restrained. All is used to intensify the dramatic effect upon the audience.

Lear's language is commanding. Even when he's dividing the country his language shows he is very much in charge. Even in the storm he tries to command the elements.
There has been great debate about whether or not King Lear is a religious play. Despite the pagan setting, it is full of Christian terminology. Learning through suffering is a Christian lesson.
The imagery of Cordelia's death could be associated with the pieta. There are prayers, oaths, sermons and parables (The Fool often gives little homilies).

There is distinct poetic imagery in the language: it is vivid and emotive. Again, Christian imagery creates complex links. References to classical mythology contribute to this complexity.
There are clusters of images that repeat through the play: blindness, animals and disease.
Antithesis is used linguistically, perhaps to reflect the conflict in the play. Repetition and lists are used. What is the dramatic effect of using these devices on the audience? Have a look here for more guidance on imagery.

Verse and prose is used unconventionally. Sometimes prose would be used to reflect the status of the character. Conventionally, low status characters speak in prose. However, Gloucester and Edmund are high status, but speak in prose in 1.2. Although high-status, Lear sometimes speaks in prose, particularly with The Fool and Poor Tom. Why might Shakespeare do this? Does it reflect his common humanity or his lack of status? The verse is mostly iambic pentameter (which he would have learnt at school). He's quite experimental in King Lear moving away from end-stopped lines and using caesura and enjambment. Why?

Handy links
If you fancy signing up to enotes, have a look there. Here is an interesting article. Here is a famous essay. This is good! There's even a quiz.

Look though other posts on this blog for more handy links!

Let me know if you have any problems. Nearly there.
Ms :)


  1. i was just wondering how i would start my essay and what should i mention in the introdution? Thanks Manon

  2. Answer the question is the easiest way to go. Remember the essay we looked at the other day? It launched straight into the argument - do that! Say whether or not you agree with the statement and why from the scene selections.
    Ms :)

  3. thanks...
    sorry could i ask you another question? My essay title is:

    The subplot is significant because it heightens the dramatic impact of the tragic outcome of the play. To what extent do you agree with the statement? (Focusing mainly on ACT 1 SCENE 2!)

    Would it be possible if you could give me another Act/Scene that is relivant to my question?

    Oh and i am a little bit confused on how i should interlink peripetia, hubris, hamartia, anagorisis, cathasis and the ekkyklema in to my essay!

    Thanks Manon :)

  4. Your title is about the dramatic impact of the outcome so focus also on the outcome. Look at act 5. You could also look at the blinding scene and consider if this heightens or distracts from the impact of the Lear plot.
    Don't worry about the key terms, Manon, they will come as you write. If they don't, we'll look at how to integrate them into your writing.
    Hope that helps. Let me know if you need anything else.
    Ms :)

  5. yeah thanks Ms this is really useful...
    I think I am getting there, but not sure if i have mentioned them!

    Manon :)

  6. Great. I do realise it's hard. Well done!