Questions and Answers

King Lear by William Shakespeare (Part 2)


  1. Early modern theater was not particularly concerned with representational realism. What are some the examples from King Lear of moments at which the audience cannot help but be aware of the gap between the performance and reality?
  2. Consider Edgar's words in Act IV Scene 1:

    O gods! Who is't can say 'I am at the worst'?
    I am worse that e're I was.
    And worse I may be yet. The worst is not
    So long as we can say 'This is the worst'.

    The play constantly takes us beyond previous established limits. Describe a series (three or four) events in King Lear in which the suffering of a character outdoes anything that has come before.

My Response:

2. The two greedy daughters come to Gloucester's home and take it over. Before they had manipulated their father, but now they are physically taking something away from a benefactor. Then they throw their father outside in the midst of a storm. Before, they had only worked to strip him of his power and caused emotional harm, but now they are putting him in physical, possibly mortal danger. Finally, the suffering that trumps all of this is the torture of Gloucester. This scene, where his eyes are gouged out is the most gruesome to be performed on the English stage.


I felt pretty good about this one when I turned it in. I think my explanations were good and my explanations were on point. The first example was influenced a bit by our reading of Dante's Inferno in which violence against a benefactor is one of the worst sins. I also got to use an idea that my professor had expressed in our last class about King Lear ("the torture of Gloucester...is the most gruesome to be performed on the English stage.") I got a check plus as a grade for this one.

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