Tag Archives: King Lear

RQ: Alaimo (476-85) & Lear 6-8



Keep the following questions in mind as you read Stacy Alaimo’s “States of Suspension: Trans-corporeality at Sea,” and King Lear scenes 6-8. 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.

Alaimo, “States of Suspension: Transcorporeality at Sea”

What does Alaimo mean by the following terms: suspension, transcorporeality, new materialism, posthumanism, and environmental justice?

Why does she suggest critics and environmentalists should trace the “substantial interchanges [that] render the human permeable” (477)?

What characteristics of the ocean make it particularly difficult to grasp?

What are some connections between humans and the sea? OR, how are terrestrial humans and marine creatures linked?

How do our environmental commitments shift if we accept that “transcorporeal subjects are always themselves part of global networks of responsibility,” (477)?

What does Alaimo mean by “buoyancy” (478)?

What does she mean when she says, “Most new materialists, would, I think, be skeptical of origin stories. As heretical descendants of postmodernism and poststructuralism, they maintain a critical stance toward foundations and essentialisms” (478)?

What happens when we take the statement “‘My mother is a fish,’ as a literal description of human ancestry” (478)?

Why is Lear (and/or people in general) “disturbed by the idea that their own bodies bear traces of their evolutionary origins in other creatures” (479)?

“Darwin, in a letter, cheerfully proclaimed, ‘Our ancestor was an animal which breathed water, had a swim bladder, a great swimming tail, an imperfect skull, and undoubtedly was a hermaphrodite! Here is a pleasant genealogy of mankind’ (qtd. Zimmer)” (479).

Does “physical relatedness provoke a rich kinship” (480)?

What allows humans “to ignore the current crisis of ocean conservation” (480)?

Is recognition of kinship enough to motivate a ethics of care or an environmental activism that locates humans as part of a cluster and not at the center?

What, according to Alaimo, does Rachel Carson’s personification of the sea accomplish? Does the personification of the sea, air, wind, rain, etc. in King Lear accomplish similar goals? Why or why not?

What does Alaimo value in the book Your Inner Fish? What does she critique

King Lear, Scenes 6-8



RQ: King Lear Intro. & Scenes 1-5



Keep the following questions in mind as you read Stanley Well’s Introduction and King Lear Scenes 1-5. 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.

Well’s Intro. (1-20)

According to Stanley Wells, why does King Lear “pose a nice philosophical problem” (8)?

When was the The True Chronicle of the Life and Death of King Lear and his Three Daughters composed? When was it printed? When was it performed?

When was The Tragedy of King Lear written, printed, and performed?

How have past editors of Shakespeare reconciled the two texts of King Lear?

How does Wells reconcile the two texts? What theories guide his editorial decisions?

Where does Shakespeare derive the plot and characters in his versions of King Lear?

Key terms: Quarto (Q1); Folio (F1); Stationers’ Register; Master of the Revels; Act to Restrain Abuses of Players (1606); and Historia regrum Britannie (1136).

Scene 1

Are the kingdoms already divided?

What is Edmund’s legal status?

Is there a connection between Gloucester’s sexual and verbal incontinence? How is he like Kate and Bianca?

Why does Lear divide his kingdom? How does he decide which sister gets which portion of land?

How much does Gonoril love her father? Does Regan improve Gonoril’s speech? Is it possible to love someone as much as they say they love their father? How much does Cordelia love her father?

Does Cordellia take the contest for the biggest portion of the kingdom too seriously? Does she transform the plot from comedy to tragedy?

What sort of test proves love? Is the entirety of the play a love test? If yes, does the ‘game’ undermine the play’s seriousness?

What are some consequences of Lear’s curse (1.100-12)?

What’s in a name?

What does Kent mean when he says, “Think’st thou that duty shall have dread to speak/When power to flattery bows?” (1.136-7). Is Kent out of line? Does he misread and misspeak in court? Or, are his criticism warranted?

How does Lear do Cordelia a favor by disowning her?

Why does Lear give everyone in his kingdom so much latitude to choose their futures?

When France says, “this is most strange” (1.203), to what does the ‘this’ refer? Do you agree?

What’s the trouble with sophistry? Is there any way around “that glib and oily art” (1.216)?

Compare the use of nature in Scene 1 (1.201 & 1.210) to Edmund’s use of the term in monologue at 2.1-20.

Evaluate Lear’s claim: “Better thou hadst no been born than not to have pleased me better” (1.224-25).

What’s Regan and Gonoril’s final assessment of Lear? Do you agree with them?

Scene 2

What sorts of words carry over from Scene 1 to Scene 2?

What’s the gist of Edmund’s first speech? Are you persuaded?

There is a great deal of repetition in Edmund’s opening speech. How does the meaning of the repeated words or phases shift over the course of the speech?

How/why does Edmund trick Gloucester?

Summarize the contents of the letter.

What steps does Gloucester want to take to ascertain if Edgar wrote the letter?

What’s the source of human behavior, or are eclipses bad omens?

Why does Edgar believe Edmund that Gloucester is angry with him?

Scene 3

Why does Gonoril want Lear to go stay with Regan? How does she plan to accomplish that goal?

Why does she phrase her plan as suggestions, instead of just ordering Oswald to treat her father and his retainers with negligence?

Scenes 4-5



Illumination from 15thc. MS of Historia Regum Britanniae Vortigern and Ambros watching the fight between two dragons

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