RO: King Lear, Scenes 9-15
Keep the following questions in mind as you read King Lear Scenes 9-15. 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.
Does the play in performance give audiences on stage and/or in the theater enough time to understand what the Fool says and sings? Why or why not?
Why don’t Cornwall and Regan allow Lear and his train into Gloucester’s castle? Is there decision justified? What sorts of mistakes do they make?
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?
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? How does Lear’s address compare to the Boatswain’s first few lines in The Tempest?
Is the storm magical or sentient? 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, does is he another counterfeit exposed? Could you even, ever tell the difference between the two? If not, so what?
Is Lear, “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)?
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? Also, did Derrida’s cat really see him naked? Is nakedness a feature of man that separates us from animals?
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)?
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?
Does Lear’s maddness come from inside or outside?
Where are they in Scene 13?
Why do you think that several key lines and actions in Scenes 13 & 14 are missing from F1? (13.15-45; 13.91-105; & 14.96-106). What difference does it make to what comes before or what comes after if these scenes/lines are cut?
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 the all those dogs even as he disperses them?
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?
What does Gloucester see after he looses his eyes?