Part I: Review
- Why does Lear divide the kingdom?
Lear divides the kingdom b/c he is old and wants to “shake all cares and business off our state” (1.38); he has no male heir and is in a bind; maybe, he’s a really forward thinker, who proposes a radical solution to a complicated problem; OR he never really intended to divide the kingdom, but is only moved by the flattery Gonoril and Regan express.
- Was the kingdom already divided before the scene began?
YES:Lear’s judgement strains old fault lines (1.258-60) to the breaking point, so in a way the kingdoms are already divided. Kent and Gloucester gossip about how Lear plans to divide the kingdoms between his daughters’ husbands, Cornwall & Albany. The love game is a mere formality that takes an unexpected turn b/c of how Lear reacts to Cordelia.
No: the shocking results of the game result in Lear’s decision to divide the kingdom, which also causes a variety of reversals: “The barbarous Sycthian,/Or he that makes his generation/Messes to gorge his appetite,/Shall be well neighbored, pitied, and relieved/As thou, my sometime daughter” (1.108-12); Lear curses where he should bless (1.100-112); plainness confused for pride; “Friendship is hence and banishment is here” (1.170); and ladies in charge of the kingdom; merit is rewarded over blood.
- What key terms, plot points, images engage with eco/environmental ideas?
1.The division of the kingdoms (ex:Of all these bounds even from this line to this,/With shady forests and wide-skirted meads” (1.57-8))Lear dividing his kingdom in his throne room is an image of ways humans assume mastery over nature. Here nature is stuff outside of the courtroom; sets up a potentially in or dangerous nature/culture opposition.
2. Nature is a term with contrary definitions: source from which power is derives that enforces divisions. This shows up when Lear curses his daughters for showing any opposition to him by calling them unnatural: “avert your liking to a more worthier way/Than on a wretch whom nature is ashamed/Almost to acknowledge hers” (1.200-203). By speaking plainly and challenging the values of the all the people in the court, Lear reckons that Cordelia is acting in opposition to her essential identity and/or nature.
3.Nature as the “tendentious postulates serving to underwrite a particular view of the political” (Clark 76) shows up in Lear’s curse: “By all the operation of the orbs,/From whom we do exist and cease to be” (1.103-104).
Part II: Reading Nature
Part III: Discussion, Scenes 3-6 & Woven
- 1. What’s your estimation of how Gonoril treats Lear? At the close of Scene 1, Cordelia warns her sisters, “Time shall unfold what pleated cunning hides” (270). Has time revealed Gonoril’s scheme or is her treatment of her father justified?
- 2. Compare the scheme that Edmund runs on his brother and father to the scheme that Kent runs on Lear and his court. Do the means shape the ends? Does Kent serve Lear as honestly as before he “razed [his] likeness” (4.4)?
- 3. What idea of “nature” does Lear invoke at the end of Scene 4 when he curses Gonoril (264-280)?
- 4. What sorts of imagery does the Fool draw from the natural world to tease Lear?
- 5. What evidence does Edmund offer Gloucester to support his claim that Edgar attempted to “Persuade me to the murder of your lordship” (6.44)?
- 6. According to WOVENText, what’s the purpose of an argument and how do you craft a successful one?
Part IV: Elements of Argumentation
- 1. Make an arguable claim about the relationship between King Lear and Nature.
- 2. List one chunk of text you might use to develop that claim.
- 3. Be prepared to share your claim and point to your evidence.