Shakes Week 4 Notes
Shakes Week 4 Notes Eng 150B
Popular in Shakespeare: Later Plays
Popular in Foreign Language
This 8 page Class Notes was uploaded by Alyssa Notetaker on Thursday October 22, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to Eng 150B at University of California - Los Angeles taught by Robert Watson in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 21 views. For similar materials see Shakespeare: Later Plays in Foreign Language at University of California - Los Angeles.
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Date Created: 10/22/15
Week Four Lecture Eight King Lear Existentialism You end up feeling there could be some divine plan but humans have to figure petty much everything What choice are you making for your species with your behavior Cognitive dissonance 2 con icting viewpoints about the world existing within one person and causing them feelings of discomfort o If information comes in that doesn t fit our paradigm we explain it to fit our belief I People would rather hold onto con icting beliefs even if it causes them grief than truly see the world selective hearing 0 Shakespeare shows how our view of the world doesn t fit reality and that if you think you re right you re probably just ignoring facts 0 The bigger the belief the more tenacious one s hold on it Shakespeare will never give an answer or at least not one that makes the other con icting view of the world disappear 0 He shows con icting world views without discounting any of them 0 Shows many characters justifications and how each character brings their own perspectives into it and so each probably thinks he or she is doing the right thing 0 Ex nature I Lear calls down nature on his daughters curses Goneril nature as a goddess orderly and beneficentpurposeful I Goneril pretty much says to go out into the storm if he wants to see what nature is nature as without sense I Edmund sees nature as vengeful an innovator as an internal part of his being he was born of nature natural lust nature will make him a force of great power Nature as human disillusion with idea that nature determines who you are 0 But also says he was born under stars that would make him lecherous which he is 0 Even skepticism is presented skeptically Success for him is not that of the established system Edmund as a rewriting of Iago o Envy tricks others does the whole oh I don t want you to think badly of this personquot 0 Plays on Gloucester s fears as an old person fears losing authority and son in his age Also opposite of Iago 0 Opening scene made into a nonperson by his father is humiliated o Harms himself to get father s favor wants the attention on himself rather than on Edgar 0 just doesn t want to be ignored 0 In the end thinks he s finally loved so wants to do well and try to save Cordelia Lear after sentencing them to death I Wants to be more tender and virtuous than he was able to be I Gloucester sees nature as to blame for bad luck rather than human faults actions and choices opposite of Edmund points to what happened with Cordelia Lear Kent as evidence of bad stars Father child relationships and nature cont d quotUnnaturalquot to be unkind to your father Edmund uses Gloucester s fears to undermine him 0 Undermines the system through lies false loyalty 0 Gloucester fears the disruption of the great chain of being of his age and fathership not causing him to be respected and granted authority Gloucester 0 Only after he loses his physical sight can he see that the natural child bastard is the one who is unnatural based on what Gloucester believes a child should be Lear 0 Doesn t see how human action can affect others feelings I Sees nature as punishment for daughter s actions I Wants to see the storm as purposeful as vengeful against his daughters rather than that he s the one out in the cold I Wants to believe he s more sinned against than sinningquot But this doesn t matter The world isn t just waiting to punish those who do bad and reward the good the world doesn t care 0 Kent sees the storm is just a storm not divine I The storm rages on the just and unjust alike 0 Theodicy if there is an omnipotent benevolent god how does evil come into the world I Fundamental cognitive dissonance about nature and morality how good gets good and bad gets punished I Ex finding blessings in tragedy Lear saying the storm is purposeful to spite his daughters I Cognitive dissonance when bad things happen to good people Goneril no help from nature you have to do what you can to get ahead Albany high ethical point of view nature as concordant though humans can disrupt it such as when women are evil says he d hit her if she weren t a woman which is another of his high moral ideas about the world o Messenger tells Albany the person who put out Gloucester s eye is now dead Albany takes it as a sign of heavenly defenders of the good confirmation bias 0 But then it is revealed that Gloucester s other eye was also poked out thereafter More dissonance 0 Albany prays for Cordelia The gods defend herquot I Immediately a stage direction Reenter KING LEAR with CORDELIA dead in his armsquot 0 Servant says heaven help himquot about Gloucester I It doesn t matter it would only help if the person actually physically helps 0 Edgar in Act 5 The gods are just and of our pleasant vices Make instruments to plague us The dark and vicious place where thee he got Cost him his eyesquot I Gloucester got what he deserved for getting an illegitimate child Suggesting his blindness is just as if he had gotten syphilis that slowly robbed him of sight I Could be consoling Edmund it s not your fault but fated I Trying to convince himself that the world still makes sense 0 When the daughters are all dead and brought in I Albany says the gods have made judgment made sure the sisters who were bad died I But then Cordelia is brought in no more ability to get morality and sense out of nature Gloucester and the cliffs of Dover Edgar manufactures the existence of a miracle his survival after quotfallingquot off the cliffs o Creates an illusion of gods having a plan 0 Edgar creates the miracle manmade miracle to give Gloucester back his belief Plus it s hilarious o The whole world starts looking like a play Then Edgar goes away to fight 0 2 lines right next to each other Grace go with you sirquot and then comes back with news of losing the war 0 Situations where you re constantly being slapped down hope of god is constantly dashed away I The response from above if there is any god is never what you expect or want it to be By the end Gloucester s hope of and belief in benevolent gods is gone As ies to wanton boys are we to th gods they kill us for their sportquot Belief as a way to handle a world that makes no sense and people will do anything to preserve their system of belief Kent quotThe stars above us govern our conditions 0 Avoiding cognitive dissonance saving face saving appearances 0 Showing that even when bad things happen to good people it shows that astrology works I Use up your belief in one system use it to prop up another belief Ex people invented many complex systems to try to still believe the earth is the center of the universe before it all crashed down What s avoided at all costs thinking that the world is nonsense o FOOL quotThe reason why the seven stars are no more than seven is a pretty reason 0 LEAR Because they are not eight 0 Everything and everyone just is without purpose or reason Love mysterious not common 0 Maybe instead of asking what makes bad people Lear should be asking what makes a good person like Cordelia Lecture Nine What is it to be a human What is it to be man Lear to have pride power glory comfort to be regarded as essential 0 As soon as he s treated as less he doesn t know if he exists anymore 0 Is man no more than this 0 Don t understand self when you re less than what you thought life was Gloucester quotA man may rot even here there is a point you can reach where it feels better to just give up to be a man is to be just one more mortal creature living pointlessly and then it dies Edgar Men as creatures of duty Edmund Men as violent when at war killing adhere to their duty change to suit their job Captain only a human would take work in conspiracy to kill for no survival reason Kent being a man implies in and of itself loyalty duty uncomplaining stoic Constant questioning of what you thought I thought 9 so long Question what you think is true what you think is human what you think is good and bad Fundamental experience of pain in Lear What they have to lose is EVERYTHING 0 Family position wealth sanity faith 0 Sense of purpose and meaningful life Last scene 0 Takes the masks of the nothingness lack of purpose in life that was hiding in plain sight o Familiar pattern of a fall and recovery but the story seems like it might recover before ending lower than it ever was I Cordelia and Lear both die I Surprise I Also a shock because the story of Lear was wellknown audience thought they knew the ending Not a happy experience not a popular play How can you cope with the human tragedy of living an empty life of pain 0 By the end the tragic energies coalesce and could make everyone feel calm in having gotten through the bad 0 BUT it doesn t end like other plays that say everything will go on and get better having survived the tragedy I It doesn t go down to rock bottom then back up I It goes down until Kent and Gloucester and Edgar and Lear are together when they escape the murderers and reunite with their good children and go to war Woohoo I BUT THEN THEY LOSE THE WAR AND EVERYONE GOOD DIES Rips the world out from under them completely goes off of the expected arc for a play 0 Ends with a feeling that we don t even know if we ve reached rock bottom yet I Pretty much says the world is now a diminished place no reason to even think all the bad happened for a reason And the person who says it is the one who s always optimistic 0 Kent All s cheerless dark and deadlyquot 0 Edgar He is gone indeedquot Makes the outlook on life even dimmer I Moralecrushing I Crushes theories of how the universe can be understood I Crushes capacity to hope Constant countdown to the tragic end 0 Very visible in Edgar s arc the steady reduction in his position and perspective of himself I Edgar thinks he s safe since he s the worst any man could be Poor Tom That s something yetquot And then the storm hits and the military comes to raid the hovel in which he s hiding But still compares self to King Lear and considers himself lucky in his company 0 And when people are trying to kill him at least they re being honest about it I Use of negative superlatives in 41 thinks he s at rock bottom And then in staggers Gloucester without eyes 9 I I am worse than ere I was And worse I may be yet The worst is not So long as we can say this is the worstquot As long as you are alive pretty much or have any morale there s still something the world can take from you scary thought Hope is almost a punishable crime it seems I Edgar before the fight tells father if he returns it ll be with good news Right after that battle offstage while we watch Gloucester trying to figure out what s going on blindly o 9 They lose and Edgar gives bad news but says let s run away and live to fight another day I Edgar is constantly hoping optimistic but every time he thinks events are at their worst something worse happens I Edgar s beating down parallels Lear s Gradually forced to accept less and less Also visible in the countdown of how many guards Lear was allowed by his daughters I Everything that he cares about he loses by degrees I Lear wanted everything at the start of the play So he refuses anything less Then that option goes away and he wants that option rather than the lesser option now and so on Constantly wants the last thing he was offered once it s too late to accept it 0 Ex Regan offers to keep 25 of his guards o 9 Lear wants the 50 Goneril offered him but he refused that offer indignantly when it was offered We all desire something more than we need 0 the reason not the need Our basest beggars Are in the poorest things super uousquot 0 Why bother being human if all you do is take only what you need to eat and sleep 0 Doesn t need the knights to live but need them to be who he is to be King Lear And he sarcastically mocks begging his daughters for food and shelter to exaggerate the indignity he d feel in going back to Goneril to ask for his knights 0 But soon finds out how nice it is to have food and shelter 0 Finds out the experience of other human beings I Lear is brought out of his bubble of opulence Yells into the storm understanding the plight his poor citizens have been in and wishes them food and shelter 0 I have taken too little care of thisquot 0 One night of bad weather he s pretty much socialist 0 But he still has a harder lesson to learn I 3459 Something however small is more than nothing Turning from the mistake Lear has made earlier in the play claiming things are quotnothingquot I Lear settles for the hovel finally But then they find out murderers are coming so he can t even get shelter I Even after Lear loses the battle he seems to have let go of pretty much everything But it s not enough He is okay with prison as long as he has Cordelia 0 Everything he cared about earlier that made him turn away Cordelia now is not cared about 0 Then she dies 0 All he wants now is for the feather over Cordelia s mouth to move and it would make up for all the sorrow in his life I Breathgt everything else I Wants it so badly he imagines it moves I Says Never 5x I Reaction to extreme tragedy disbelief 0 Beginning vs end I At beginning Lear gets mad at Cordelia saying nothing I At the end she really says nothing since she s dead but now he s so desperate that he says she s just softvoiced but she said something What was nothing before is more than the nothing of death Now he wants the nothing from Act 1 0 But as always it s too late 0 Even tries to please her reconcile telling her he killed her hanger I Again it s still too late I Learning about real lifequot didn t do him any good redemption doesn t cause good Last words 0 Albany The weight of this sad time we must obey Speak What we feel not What we ought to say The oldest hath borne most we that are young Shall never see so much nor live so long Arc of tragedy Goes off the expected Starts high goes low but doesn t go back up 0 Starts going up then falls down lower than ever with a sense that it might even go lower after the play Lots of little anticlimaxes 0 Ex Edgar reveals his life and loyalty to his father finally I Gloucester dies Register shifts o Postmodern farceish 0 Ex Gloucester sans eyes Lear going crazy Edgar as Mad Tom all together Theology Shakespeare placed the more pagan religions in Lear o Idea of atheism unacceptable in Shakespeare s time o Plausible deniability 0 So able to place the questions of a lack of a greater purpose in the play Lear s despondency at the end Kent always loyal to Lear follows and defends him At the end drops his disguise and hopes the reunion and good news will give Lear some sense that the world is right 0 But Lear s responses are lackluster not excited dull 0 Lack of purpose to life lack of even trying to find an explanation for what happened Albany gives good news that he s king again 0 Lear doesn t care just cares about Cordelia o What kind of a universe a god would do this Why should a dog a horse a rat have life And thou no breath at allquot Where does this leave us Any consolation in the play isn t exactly in the play 0 No sense of having seen the worst that can happen Shakespeare hammers away at our senses of what the world is Leaves us something to build on though 0 Shows us overwhelming tragedy yet Shakespeare was able to go on living and even creating plays with more clear redemption 0 It s possible to survive even without the denials we constantly maintain o 9 Shakespeare becomes the tragic hero of King Lear by surviving
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