19 Oct. Lit Analysis W/S

Part I. Workshop, Lit Analysis Essay

Open up your draft posts on your computers, moving from computer to computer, answer the following questions about your peers’ drafts in the comment section beneath the blog.
  • 1. What arguable claim does your peer’s essay draft make about The History of King Lear and Nature?
  • 2. How does your peer’s essay draft integrate the secondary source?
  • 3. What are the key terms in your peer’s essay and how does s/he define them?
  • 4. How does the close reading in the draft support/develop the claim? Does the close reading develop the argument through an attention to specific linguistic/rhetorical elements of the text?
  • 5. How does your peer plan to develop the workshop draft into the final draft?

Part II. Discussion, KL Scenes 20-24

Pick one of the four questions below and be prepared to point the chunk of text that best answers it:
  • 1.How and why does Edgar “trifle” (20.31) with his father’s “despair” (20.31) in Scene 20?
  • 2. How do Lear and Gloucester comfort one another?
  • 3.How does Lear die?
  • 4.Who gets the last word in The History of King Lear, and what is it

For Next Tuesday, Oct 24

We will cover the following next Tuesday, so be sure to watch Ep. 1 of the Walking Dead. Walking Dead is streaming on Netflix and you can buy the first season, streaming, not HD for $7.99 on Amazon. Remember, Walking Dead is gory and violent, so if you want to read the comics instead, email me and I will set you up with an alternative assignment.
  • 1. Provide an overview of the final unit Walking Dead/Podcast
  • 2. Assign teams
  • 3. Discuss Walking Dead Ep.1 and practice the first “group write”

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?



17 Oct. Conclusions.


If you were absent last Thursday (10/12), download the Quiz, complete it, and return it to me at the start of class on Thursday (10/19): KL Quiz Scenes 8-19

The Final Draft of the Literary Analysis paper is 6-7 pages double spaced. I miscalculated the word count.

Part I. Reflecting on Annotation

Take five minutes to reflect on the following:
  • 1. What is my literary analysis essay claim?
  • 2.How can I incorporate the scholarly article I annotated into my paper?
  • 3. How does the annotation I completed compliment/challenge my understanding of The History of King Lear and/or key terms such as nature, Anthropocene, ecology, etc?

Part II. Writing to Avoid

Read each sentence and then briefly explain how to revise them.

  • 1. For many people, nature may seem closely associated with ecology, it certainly did for me before reading Timothy Morton’s essay. 
  • 2. An imagination of a place, in Morton’s own words, “over yonder”, “where the grass is greener” (The Ecological Thought, page 3).
  • From Morton’s perspective, ecology promotes the idea of a world interconnected like a “mesh”, in which all life is interconnected.
  • 3. On page three of Morton’s introduction he explains that “In order to have ecology we have to let go of nature”.
  • 4. He also distinguishes between nature and nature with the “capital N”. Humans have a tendency to believe that they are not apart of nature. That the interconnectedness between all species involves animals and plants in a nature untouched by humans.
  • 5. In Clark’s epilogue, Nature, Post Nature, he introduces to us the term Anthropocene and proceeds to explain how it questionably defines nature along with the human relationship. “The Anthropocene brings to an unavoidable point of stress the question of the nature of nature and of the human(Clark 79).”
  • 6. Morton in page 2 says referring to ecology, “It has to do with love, loss, despair, and compassion. It has to do with depression and psychosis.” According to Morton, people only think of the common green scenery of trees and other plants.
  • 7. He describes ecology as something that revolves around coexistence. Not only is it about the plants, animals, or minerals that occupy this planet. It is also about human beings and how we live with other human beings and our environment.

Part III. Conclusions

As we watch a portion of Scene 20, keep the following in mind:
  • 1. How Scene 20 start to wrap up the themes we’ve been examining throughout The History of King Lear conclude? Could the characters have done anything differently to change the final outcomes?
  • 2. How do you plan to conclude your paper? What are some characteristics of a successful conclusion? What do you still have time to do to effect the outcome of your papers?


12 Oct. Interpretation.

Part I. Housekeeping

Arts & Sciences Majors Fair

Close Reading Leftovers

  • Group Four: 11.115-122

  • Group Five: 13.70-75

    Part II. Writing Close Reading

    • 1. What are some of literary/rhetorical features that readers look for when close reading texts?
    • 2. What are some elements that make up successful literary analysis paragraphs?  



    Elements of Analysis Paragraphs

    • 1.Topic sentence: restates claim to transition from previous paragraph and introduces new information to follow.
    • 2. Transition from topic sentence that sets up the citation. Describe the context and/or major theme in the citation you plan to include next.
    • 3. In-text citation in MLA format. Remember format long/block quotes accordingly.
    • 4. Close analysis: give an overview of the passage and then Overview]pick out one or two key features from the bit of text you cite and explain how those features help you understand the passage, the play, and/or the major themes of the paper.
    • 5.Tie your analysis back into the larger goal/claim of the paper and set-up your transition to the next paragraph.


    [Topic Sentence]While human judgement, and not some magical, pre-social idea of Nature, seems to shape the events of the play, characters persist in blaming the stars for the circumstances in which they find themselves. [Transition] During his second, clandestine meeting with the unnamed Gentleman, for instance, Kent does not attribute the differences he perceives between Gonoril and Cordelia to each characters’ judgement. [Signal phrase] Instead, he throws up his hands and exclaims, “It is the stars/The stars above us govern our conditions,/Else one self mate and make could not beget/such different issues” (17.33-36). [Overview] According to Kent, divine intervention is the only explanation for why Cordelia’s disposition is so much different than her sister’s when they share the same parents. [Literary/Rhetorical Features] And yet, Kent’s own syntax belies his world view. The chiasmus, that is the reverse repetition of “stars” suggests he has to convince himself that Nature conditions human life. While he is able to reject both Lear’s divinely sanctioned banishment, as well as the conditions of his birth, Kent still clings to the notion that humans are not responsible for the conditions in which they find themselves. [Back to Claim] In other words, Kent produces the conditions of his life but despite all evidence to the contrary, he continues to blame the stars. [Transition] The reliance on an idea of Nature that precedes and shapes human life, and idea that Kent’s repetition exemplifies, exacerbates the larger ecological catastrophe that the play stages.

    [New Paragraph] The History of King Lear depicts ways human judgement contributes to ecological disaster on a grand scale…

    Part III. Discussion

    The History of King Lear, Scenes 14-19

    Be prepared to point to the text that supports your response to the questions:
    • 1. Why do Regan and Cornwall blind Gloucester?
    • 2. What accounts for Albany’s change of attitude toward his wife? Describe some of the criticisms he levels at her.
    • 3. Why can’t Gloucester recognize his own son?
    • 4. Who, or what, governs our fate according to Kent, and how does his point of view on fate/nature square with his trajectory in the play?
    • 5. How does Cordelia describe Lear at the beginning of scene 18?

    Part IV: Quiz

    Please clear your desk and then complete the following:
    I’ll pass around the quizzes and then you will have the remainder of the class to complete them. Choose two of the five passages and respond to the prompts.

    KL Quiz Scenes 8-19

    If you do not have your book, use the the Internet Shakespeare Quarto Edition

    The equivalent passages are as follows: 9.1701-1714; 11.1881-1888; 14.2128-2138; 16.2301-2303.5; and 18.2351-2360


    RQ: Hist KL, Scenes 14-19


    Keep the following questions in mind as you read King Lear Scenes 14-19. 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 14

    Why do Regan and Cornwall blind Gloucester?

    Are Regan and Cornwall’s “revenges” (14.5) against Gloucester justified, why or why not?

    How does Regan and Cornwall’s interrogation of Gloucester compare with the ‘mock trial’ scene that precedes it? What happens to the rest of the play if the mock trial scene is left out?

    Scene 15

    Why can’t Gloucester recognize his own son?

    Contemporary environmental discourse is often carried on by people who don’t live and work with animals or complex ecosystems. Is Edgar part of this tradition? OR, what might an actual wandering, wildman have to contribute to conversations about environmental justice?

    Scene 16

    How does Albany react to the news that French forces have landed in France, according to Oswald?

    What does gift does Gonoril joke she’ll give her husband (16.17-18); what gift does she give Edmund?

    What accounts for Albany’s change of attitude toward his wife? Describe some of the criticisms he levels at her. How does Gonoril respond? Which character is most persuasive and why?

    What makes humans into monsters according to Albany, or, perhaps, according to the play?

    How does Cornwall die?

    Scene 17

    How does the [First] Gentleman describe Cordelia?

    Who, or what, governs our fate according to Kent (17.33-36) How does his point of view on fate/nature square with his trajectory in the play?

    Why does Lear refuse to meet with Cordelia according to Kent?

    Scene 18

    How does Cordelia describe Lear at the beginning of the scene?

    What course of treatment does the Doctor prescribe for Lear?

    Scene 19

    What does Regan want Oswald to do and why won’t he do it?

    5 Oct. Sources & Storm

    Part I. Article & Annotation

    Please complete the following tasks:
    • 1. Review the requirements for Blog Post 2
    • 2. Take 10 mins and search for a scholarly source in the MLA database
    • 3. How does the article you chose relate to the paper prompt and/or the claim you drafted?

    Part II. Using Secondary Sources

    Please consider the following as you write your Literary Analysis Essays:
    • 1. How can you incorporate secondary material into your argument/analysis?
    • 2. Where does secondary analysis belong and what does it do?
    • 3. How can you revise your annotations into the final draft of your analysis paper?

    1. “They say, I say”: Joining a Conversation

    2. Developing Argument: Context & Defining Terms3. A Gloss to Your Close Reading

    Part III.Close Reading

    Organize yourselves into groups of five, read the passage assigned to your group, and then (10-15mins)

    1. provide a brief summary of the passage; 2. describe/point out at least two key rhetorical figures/literary devices (metaphor, meter/rhyme, tone, etc.); and 3. explain how your passage may sustain (also support/enhance) an argument about the relationship between The History of King Lear and Nature; 4. Have member of your group write your findings on the white board.

    • Group One: 9.49-60
    • Group Two: 11.24-33
    • Group Three: 11.91-98
    • Group Four: 11.115-122
    • Group Five: 13.70-75

    The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp. Rembrandt, 1632

    3 Oct. Into Nature.

    Part I: Claim/Thesis

    Take 5 mins and respond to the following:

    • 1. What are some characteristics of a successful claim or thesis?
    • 2. What makes a claim or thesis “arguable”?
    • 3. Quickly review the claim/thesis you drafted at the end of class on Thursday. Is it arguable, why or why not?

    Magic (Arguable) Thesis

    Even though it seems as if ___________________________  is _______________________because of ______________________, I’ll argue___________________________.

    Part II: Discussion

    • 1. Describe Kent’s treatment of Oswald. What is your assessment of Kent’s treatment of Oswald and of Cornwall’s treatment of Kent? Is Kent justified? Is Cornnwall?
    • Keep the following in mind as we watch half of Scene 7, from the Trever Nunn and Ian McKellen RSC filmed version of King Lear (2008-9)
    • 2. How does Edgar “preserve” (7.172) himself after he flees his father’s house in Scene 7
    • 3. How does Lear react to Kent’s punishment?
    • 4.Why don’t Cornwall and Regan allow Lear and his train into Gloucester’s castle? Is their decision justified?
    • 5.Does Lear cause the storm at that begins at the close of Scene 7? OR, what is the relationship between the storm and the way Lear’s daughters treat him?

    Part III: Quiz

    Please clear your desk and then complete the following:
    I’ll pass around the quizzes and then you will have the remainder of the class to complete them. All the questions are short answer. Your answers do not need to be in complete sentences, and you do not need to include direct citations from the text for full credit. Bring your completed quiz up to me when you are finished, and then you may leave.

    RQ: Hist KL, Scenes 8-13


    Keep the following questions in mind as you read King Lear Scenes 8-13. 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 8

    Does Lear cause the storm, or vice versa? What is the relationship between the storm and Lear’s “woman’s weapons” (7.435)?

    Why does Shakespeare give audiences a report of Lear in the storm before we see him out on the heath?

    What secret does Kent tell the First Gentleman in Scene 8? What surety of his story does Kent offer the First Gentleman?

    Scene 9 

    If you were staging Lear, how would you portrait the “Storm” in Scene 9? Why?

    Whom does Lear address in the opening lines of Scene 9?

    Is the storm magical? For instance, how is it possible, in Lear’s assessment, for the storm to “Find out their enemies now” (9.51)?

    Compare the power Lear attributes to the storm in 9.50-60, i.e. the storm can discover who all the villains are even if they are wearing disguises, to 11.25-33.

    Does the storm transform Lear, from a seemingly unsympathetic man to a deeply sympathetic one, OR,  is he another counterfeit exposed? Could you even, ever tell the difference between the two? If not, so what?

    Do you agree that Lear is “More sinned against than sinning” (9.60)?

    What ideas or emotions does the storm convey to stage and theater audience, as well as readers, that words cannot (11.6-20)?

    Scene 11

    What motivates Lear’s pity for Tom? Is Lear sincere? How can you tell and so what? Also, does it matter that Tom is really Edgar, disguised nobleman?

    When Edgar describes Tom’s life before the hovel, is he telling the truth? If yes, assess his character. For instance, are you surprised he chose to take on the costume of a beggar?

    If you were directing this play, would you have Lear take off all his clothes at “Unaccomodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art. Off, off, you lendings! Come on, be true” (11.96-99)? Why or why not? AND, can an actor really ever be naked on stage?

    Where, or even how, do you think Edgar learned to curse?

    What does Poor Tom eat? For what does his diet qualify him?

    What, as Lear asks, is the “cause of the thunder” (11.139)?

    Scene 13 

    Where are they in Scene 13?

    Is Lear’s condemnation of his daughters in the mock trial justified? What does he see when he anatomizes Regan?

    Why does Tom/Edgar taxonomize all those dogs even as he disperses them?

    Does Lear’s madness come from inside or outside?


    RQ: Hist KL, Scene 7

    Scene 7

    What does Kent say that causes him to be put in the stocks? Does Kent accurately represent his encounter with Oswald(7.1-80) in his narration of events to Lear (7.204-23)?

    How does Edgar “preserve” (7.172) himself after he flees his father’s house in Scene 6?

    Assess the quality of Lear’s judgement when he says:

    Fiery? The Duke?–tell the hot Duke that Lear–
    No, but not yet. Maybe he is not well.
    Infirmity doth still neglect all office
    Where unto out health is bound. We are not ourselves
    When nature, being oppressed, commands the mind
    To suffer with the body. I’ll forebear,
    And am fallen out with my more headier will,
    To take the indisposed and sickly fit
    For the sound man.–Death on my state,
    Wherefore should he sit here? This act persuades me
    That this remotion of the Duke and her
    Is practice only. (7.265-75).

    “Nature” and description of the nature world shows up throughout Scene 7. Do the different instances contradict one another? Can we say that all the references to nature and natural imagery add up to a theory of nature/natural world? Consider some of the following: 

    Kent “Nature disclaims in thee; a tailor made thee” (7.51-2)

    Edgar The country gives me proof and precedent
    Of Bedlam beggars who with roaring voices
    Strike in their numbed and mortified bare arms
    Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary (7.179-81)

    Lear Return to her, and fifty men dismissed?
    No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
    To be comrade with the wolf and owl,
    To wage against the enmity of the air
    Necessity’s sharp pinch. (7.364-68)

    Lear’s speech at the end of the scene that begins, “O, reason not the need!…Or ere I’ll weep–O fool, I shall go mad!” (7.423-44)

    28 Sept. Eclipses.

    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

    Keep the following in mind as we watch the Lawrence Olivier (1983) version of King Lear:
    Do humans control nature or does nature control humans? Be prepared to support your response with evidence from Scene 2.

    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

    Drawing on the Freewrite from Tuesday and the short response you wrote to Scene 2 for today, along with what we’ve read so far, complete the following:
    • 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.
    1 2