KING LEAR - Act 4 Scene 6 & 7 analysis

  • Created by: S_F
  • Created on: 22-05-22 12:07
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  • Scene 6
    • Scene 7
      • The fact that Cordelia asks the doctor to speak to Lear first shows her modesty. She seems as reluctant to speak now as she did in act 1, perhaps she finds it hard to express her love.
      • Lear does not seem to recognise Cordelia and falls on his knees (this sense of begging for forgiveness and the use of first person pronouns suggests Lear has accepted his diminished status and has come far in his realisation) showing her that he regrets wronging her. The tragedy of this play is that wisdom comes too late.
      • Through suffering comes insight.
      • Both Cordelia and Lear feel the same emotions; pain, humility and concern. Their mutual caring is shown by the way they finish off each other’s sentences and leave the stage together.
    • Shakespeare chose to set the play in a pagan world as suicide was a sin in  Christianity and so was despairing as it meant you have given up all hope in God.
    • Gloucester says Poor Tom’s voice seems different – the irony is now that he is blind, he is more perceptive of everything around him.
    • It is ironic that Gloucester's change of heart is brought around by deceit and that both sons lie to their father; Edgar to protect and save him, Edmund for his own self gain. Morality appears to be mercurial (constantly changing),
    • His mad speeches do tend to have an undertone of true meaning, there is a subconscious connection of words in his mind. This shows that there is some sort of coherence and perhaps some hope of him regaining his sanity.
    • Lear is dressed with wild flowers. This is significant as we are seeing the disintegration of his mind in a physical portrayal.
    • Edgar’s aside emphasises the pathos (evoking pity) between the exchange between Lear and Gloucester.
    • Lear mistakes Gloucester for Gonerill ‘with a white beard’ and launches into a tirade about female sexuality. Feminist critics take offense of this speech as he is stating that women are animals and fiends. He is condemning female sexuality.  (This is also a prose speech, representing Lear’s fragmented mind.)
    • In madness comes wisdom. This is particularly seen as Lear now believes that rich, powerful men can hide their sins and an outer show of authority can conceal a façade of which evil can hide. Through his madness Lear has learned patience in the face of a human condition that is absurd.
    • In his madness there is an element of cunning. He says “sa, sa, sa” which was used as a hunting cry.
    • Oswald's death gives the audience hope that evil will be defeated.
    • Gloucester is thinking of Lear’s lunacy and wishes he too could be mad as he thinks it will distract him from his reality. A drum is heard afar – this signifies the upcoming war.


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