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Practice essay 1

Lear’s removing himself from the kingship created disasters for both himself and those around him.
By violating the principle of the Divine Right of kings, his kingdom was plunged into chaos in a fight
for power. Lear’s daughters, Cornwall and Edmund were absolutely stunning and ruthless in their
quest for power, traits that were mirrored in Machiavelli’s 16th Century text, The Prince where he
stated that in the quest for power the ends justified the means.
This Shakespearean tragedy revolves around the beliefs that were upheld during the Elizabethan era
and presents the devastating after effects of a disruption in the social and political system. Lear’s
intended descent from the throne mirrors the creation of the Church of England when the chain of
being was disrupted and the church’s hierarchy was no longer sacred. Shakespeare uses the
characterisation of Goneril, Regan, Cornwall and Edmund to warn people about the consequences of
a disruption in the Chain of Being. The Fool gives the reader an unbiased perspective regarding
Lear’s ongoing predicament and the reader gains a neutral insight into the plot of the play. The
metaphor and foreshadowing in “She will taste as like this as a crab does to a crab” emphasises
Goneril and Regan’s bitter attitudes as the Fool tries to make Lear aware of the fact that Regan will
be no different than Goneril in her lack of respect and sympathy for Lear, which eventually becomes
evident when Regan renounces her
These characters represent feudalist values such as cunningness, deception, betrayal, rebellion and
manipulation. Goneril possesses a deceptive personality as she flatters Lear to gain half of his
kingdom, however she soon plots with Regan to deprive him is his remaining power. The … she
. feudalist values
The catastrophic after effects of the quest for power
Use flattery to in Lear only
Work collaboratively, plot together to deprive him of his remaining power
Send Lear out in the storm- desensitised, mercilessly
Goneril poisons Regan
Cornwall plots to assassinate Lear
Plots against Edgar to gain inheritance.
Betray his father, Gloucester and becomes Earl of Gloucester.
Plots with Cornwall
Orders the deaths of Cordelia and Lear.
Manipulates Goneril and Regan through his charismatic character.
The chain of being was disturbed when The Church of England was created (The Church's
hierarchy was no longer sacred)
A modern audience would consider Lear's unrealistic expectations of professions from his
daughters as worse than his decision to divide his kingdom.
His foolishness and suffering absorb the reader the most
He demands total obedience from his subjects.
He is a symbolic figure who represents England.
“ More hideous when thou show’st thee in a child than the sea monster” – Lear (page 68)
“And thereto
“ More hideous when
thou show’st thee in a
child than the sea
And thereto add such
reasons of your own
as may compact it
She will taste as like
this as a crab does to a
Is man no more than
O heavens, that this
treason were not, or
not I the detector!
“Yet our power shall
do a courtesy to our
wrath, which men
may blame, but not
Said by
Lear - page 68
Technique and effect
Goneril- page 74
Fool -page 78
Lear – page 166
Edmund – page 174
Cornwall – page 188
Dramatic irony
‘Tis the time’s plague
when madmen lead
the blind’
“I must change names
at home, and give the
distaff into my
husband’s hands.”
“for my state stands
on me to defend, not
to debate.”
“The old man and his
followers cannot be
well bestowed”
“Impetuous people
learn their lessons
from the
consequences of their
own actions:
“If I weren’t feeling a
little sick, I’d give you
my piece of mind:
Foreshadowing – gets
Dramatic techniques
Gloucester – page 204
Goneril – page 208
Edmund – page 274
Regan – page 138
Symbolism, motif