Hist KL, Scenes 20-24


Keep the following questions in mind as you read The History of King Lear Scenes 20-24. The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

Scene 20

What does Edgar say he sees when he looks down the cliffside (20.11-24), what he calls the “extreme verge”(20.25)?

How and why does Edgar “trifle” (20.31) with his father’s “despair” (20.31) in this scene?

Does Edgar “cure” his father (20.34)?

Describe Gloucester’s “fall.” How does Edgar “figure” his father’s fall? What’s your assessment of Edgar’s trick?

How does Edgar describe “Poor Tom” (20.69-73)?

Why do you think the characters are so transformed? Are they all “unnacomodated” now? Or are they all monsters or “ruined piece(s) of nature” (20.129)? Why does Shakespeare ask us to watch these transformations?

When Lear enters at 20.80 we haven’t seen him since Scene 13. How has he changed? How has he stayed the same?

How do the two old friends comfort one another?

Why don’t the women go outside?

Why does Edgar lie to his father again at 20.213-15?

How does Oswald die?

Scene 21

Why doesn’t Kent change out of his clothes when Cordelia asks him to, “Be better suited” (21.6)?

What treatments has Cordelia administered to her father?

How do Lear and Cordelia react to one another on their first meeting since Scene 1?

Scene 22

How does Edmund plan to solve his two girlfriend problem?

Scene 24

Review Lear’s speech at 24.8-19. What’s his plan for life in prison? How does he plan to bring the outdoors, in?

How does Edgar describe his final hours with his father? How does his description square with your reading of the play? What finally kills old Gloucester?

How do Gonoril and Regan die?

What good deed does Edmund plan to do before he dies?

How does Lear react to Cordelia’s death?

Who gets the last word in The History of King Lear?



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