Presentation on theme: "King Lear Day One ENGL 305 Dr. Fike. Outlines Thesis statements must be controversial ideas about your focused topics. Regarding your focused topic, ask,"— Presentation transcript:
King Lear Day One ENGL 305 Dr. Fike
Outlines Thesis statements must be controversial ideas about your focused topics. Regarding your focused topic, ask, “So what?” Or ask, “How, why, and with what consequences?” The answer will move you toward a proper thesis. Usually, it’s a good strategy to open the body with a review of previous criticism. Aim for a statement about how your project is different from what other critics have done. You must incorporate at least 5 critical sources (a critical source = an article or book on your play; Shakespeare criticism, in other words). Many of you need to do more research into secondary sources. It is important to include evidence from the play to support your thesis statement. Almost all of you need to do another draft of the outline. It is helpful to have a conference with me about your work in progress.
Issue from Hamlet: Ophelia’s “maimèd rites” ( ); and the Priest at Her obsequies [funeral rites] have been as far enlarged As we have warranty. Her death was doubtful And but that great command o’ersways the order She should in ground unsanctified been lodged Till the last trumpet. For charitable prayers, Shards, flints, and pebbles should be thrown on her. Yet here she is allowed her virgin crants [Bevington’s note: “garlands betokening maidenhood”] Her maiden strewments [“flowers strewn on a coffin”], and the bringing home Of bell and burial. …………………………………………………………. No more be done. We should profane the service of the dead To sing a requiem and such rest to her As to peace-parted souls.
Parallel in MSND Damnèd spirits all, That in crossways and floods have burial, Already to their wormy beds are gone. For fear lest day should look their shames upon, They willfully themselves exile from light And must for aye consort with black-browed night.
Review Elizabethan psychology and Freudian psychology deepen our understanding of Hamlet’s hesitation. –Elizabethan: He is a melancholy man who fears that the devil is messing with him. –Freudian: His superego is highly developed, and his Oedipal hatred is deeply repressed. From a Jungian point of view, we note that Hamlet does make some progress with his shadow, but he does this too late to reengage with the anima.
Outline Day One: –1.1: video and large group discussion – ff.: Gloucester’s speech vs. Edmund’s Day Two: –Draft of research paper due; use turnitin.com; lesson planner(s), please see me about the “long calendar.” –Lear on the heath –The heath vs. “Dover” (4.6): everybody –Trial scenes (3.6, 3.7): divide the class in half Day Three: –Unofficial quiz –Ending: video and discussion –“Shakespeare and the Exorcists”: read and bring this article to class; also bring the “Greenblatt Handout” for help reading the article: Please number the paragraphs in the article.
Main Point Today a lot of things that we have been talking about will coalesce in a way that should clarify them very significantly.
Point from Bedford 259 “Authority in the early modern family rested finally with the father.” In King Lear, this is magnified by the double plot: –A father and two sons: Gloucester, Edgar, and Edmund –A father and three daughters: Lear, Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia In King Lear, the power of the father is also magnified by the absence of mothers.
In Each Plot Each father initially loves his good child best, then reverses judgment with disastrous results. –Disinherits the good child. –Endows the bad one(s) who then take action against him.
What is the son’s pattern with respect to the father? Sons are supposed to return to the father: prodigal son, affirmation of the primogeniture. Edgar has the proper motion, but he circles away from Gloucester not because of his own profligacy/hamartia but because of his father’s misperception and ill treatment: same motion, different motivation.
What is a daughter’s pattern with respect to the father? Daughters are supposed to leave for life with their husbands: not a circular motion but an outward and linear motion: separation new life. Rosalind, AYLI : “But what talk we of fathers where there is such a man as Orlando?”
Desdemona, Othello : I do perceive here a divided duty. To you I am bound for life and education; My life and education both do learn me How to respect you. You are the lord of duty; I am hitherto your daughter. But here’s my husband, And so much duty as my mother showed To you, preferring you before her father, So much I challenge that I may profess Due to the Moor my lord.
Cordelia, King Lear O dear Father, It is thy business that I go about; Therefore great France My mourning and importuned tears hath pitied. No blown ambition doth our arms incite, But love, dear love, and our aged father’s right. Soon may I hear and see him!
Lynda Boose’s Thesis Tragedy results from conflicting rituals. See her article, “The Father and the Bride in Shakespeare,” PMLA 97 (1982): (Boose rhymes with goose.) POINT: A ritual is problematic to the extent that it interferes with a daughter’s passage from father to husband.
Video Clip: Questions for Class Discussion 1.What is up with the Gloucester-Edmund segment that opens the play? 2.In what ways is Lear making a mistake? 3.Why would he concoct such a stupid plan? What are his problems? 4.In terms of statecraft, why is Lear’s plan a bad one? What have we learned from the history plays that might help us answer this question?
Question 1 What is up with the Gloucester-Edmund segment that opens the play? Large-group discussion.
Possible Answers to Question 1 Primogeniture Amplification of Lear plot Younger brother stuff
Question 2 In what ways is Lear making a mistake? Work in pairs for 5 minutes: come up with possible answers.
Possible answers to question 2 Primogeniture Conflicting rituals--explain False appearance Oedipal stuff ( ) “strife” (line 44)
Question 3 Why would Lear concoct such a stupid plan? What are his problems?
Possible answers to question and False appearances
Question 4 In terms of statecraft, why is Lear’s plan a bad one? What have we learned from the history plays that might help us answer this question?
Possible answer to question 4 Lines 127ff.: He cannot keep office if he gives up power. 100 knights: He cannot keep even a token show of power if he gives up office. R2: Office and power must be vested in the same person. POINT: Lear is lousy at statecraft.
The other family in which a father gets snookered by a child: : –What is Gloucester’s point of view? Cf. Henry IV and Ulysses re. correspondences. –How does this point of view affect his reading of the letter? –What is Edmund’s point of view? –What does this point of view enable him to do?
Shall we wax literary-theoretical? Gloucester is to the stable sign and to credulity as Edmund is to deconstruction and deviousness. What does this homology mean? Is disorder in the heavens a “floating signifier”?
Floating Signifier “An 'empty' or 'floating signifier' is variously defined as a signifier with a vague, highly variable, unspecifiable or non-existent signified. Such signifiers mean different things to different people: they may stand for many or even any signifieds; they may mean whatever their interpreters want them to mean. In such a state of radical disconnection between signifier and signified, 'a sign only means that it means' (Goldman & Papson 1994, 50)” (emphasis added).(Goldman & Papson 1994, 50) Source: ml ml
Contrast The letter in Hamlet represents stable signification. In King Lear, the letter is a fake.
And So: Matthew 10:21 “Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death....” This process is enacted in our play. And the tragedy that results is bound up with misperceiving things as they are.
Context: Religion, Order Bedford 315: “Such disputes [Catholic vs. Protestant], with their potentially deadly outcomes, form the background for Shakespeare’s obsession, in the English histories and tragedies such as King Lear, with ‘the division of the kingdom.’” Bedford 323: “According to this early critical orthodoxy [see Ulysses’s statement in T&C], the history plays constitute a warning against political division and opportunism, and King Lear represents a passionate exposition of the danger of breaking what Sir John Fortescue over a century later had called the ‘bond of order.’”
POINT Order and hierarchy are really important themes in Shakespeare’s plays.
How Things Come Together Authority of the father Inheritance through primogeniture Motion of sons and daughters with respect to the father Plight of younger brothers Psychological problems drive actions Statecraft: office + power Correspondences, order, degree
Plus One New Concept Conflicting rituals: Lear errs in trying to unmarry his married daughters. In other words, the ritual of dividing the kingdom conflicts with the ritual of betrothal/marriage. END