KING LEAR - Act 5 Scene 1, 2 & 3 analysis

  • Created by: S_F
  • Created on: 22-05-22 15:17
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  • Scene 1
    • Albany wants to help Lear and believes he has not been treated right but he cannot be seen to support a French invasion and therefore it is his duty to remove the French invaders. Edmund’s response to this is “sir you speak nobly” – in most productions this would have been said in a sneering tone.
    • His complete indifference of both sisters are very clear (he calls them “these sisters”) – to him they are interchangeable and just pawns to be used and sacrificed as and when is necessary. He compares them both to an ‘adder’ (a snake) and of course snakes are shown in literature to be evil and concerned with the devil’s temptation.  He thinks one will have to die for him to ‘enjoy’ the other.
    • Scene 2
      • Scene 3
        • Cordelia’s rhyming couplets remind us of her speech in the first scene and creates this image of a woman struggling for control.
        • The audience realises that Lear does not fully grasp the fragility and seriousness of his situation.
        • Goneril is going to commit suicide – she could either be seen to die defiantly (she refuses to be taken by the others) or dejectedly and desperately
        • Lear enters with Cordelia in his arms. This entrance is the tragic climax of the play.  Lear is distraught. He was given one glimpse of happiness and now this happens. He committed one last act of heroism; he killed her hangman. He then tumbles into madness again.
        • Society seems restored; the worth are rewarded and the unworthy are punished. But the play is still a tragedy.
        • Lear says “and my poor fool is hanged” Perrett states that “when Cordelia is away her place as the representative of utter truthfulness is taken by the Fool. In this respect, the two characters are”. A.C Bradley argues that Lear’s mind is so broken that he can no longer distinguish between the two people he cherished the most.
      • Edgar telling Gloucester to not still be feeling suicidal seems to highlight that patience and endurance seems to be the human qualities most valuable in the world of King Lear.


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