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Annotated King Lear Essay

In this article Neville’s key ideas are focused on the aspect of fathering. He makes connections between the fathering patterns of Lear, Gloucester and Cornwall. He starts with describing Regan’s reasoning for Edgars ‘recent behavior’. She states that his behavior is at the fault of King Lear’s 100 knights. “Was he not companion with the riotous knights that tend upon my father?”(2.1.94-95), which quickly becomes clear to everyone else that she does have a point, yet she is really just trying to rid Lear of his knights by placing the blame on them.

Newman then shifts the focus to Cornwall who then realizes Edmund’s ‘loyalty’ to his father and almost immediately accepts him into their family, showing Cornwall’s foolishness by just accepting Edmund’s story without checking the verity of it. Newman suggests that “it is, perhaps his own lack of a son that blinds him to Edmund’s duplicity and leads him to, in effect, acclaim Edmund as his stepson.” (Newman, 191). Newman then brings up the irony in Cornwall adopting Edmund into his family. Edmund wanted to change the way society views bastards, that is why he came up with the plan to frame Edgar in the first place, and by having been accepted into a family by a member of this exact society, Edmund has achieved his goal.

He then starts to make connections between the characters. Newman brings up the fact that Cornwall’s relationship with Edmund “…causes us to contrast his willingness to assume the told of father with the overall ineptitude of Lear and Gloucester as father figures.”(Newman, 192). He then brings up another connection between Lear’s concerns to recognize his daughter’s rights to his kingdom and Gloucester’s non-concern with his illegitimate son Edmund. He points out that Edmund was away for nine years therefor not being in contact with Gloucester nor Edgar for such a long period of time and yet Gloucester fully believes his story about Edgar.

Newman says that this little knowledge of his family makes him a bad father and this “paternal failure parallels Lear’s” (Newman, 193). His closing paragraph states that the fact that both Cornwall’s and Gloucester’s eventual willingness to accept Edmund supports their parental ineptitude, which is a feature both men share with Lear. Adams, Robert P. “King Lear’s Revenges.” Modern Language Quarterly 21.3 (1960): 223. Literary Reference Center. Web. 14 Mar. 2013.

Robert P. Adams “King Lear’s Revenges.”

In Adams article he discusses King Lear’s revenges, focusing mostly on Lear’s revenge speech right before he heads out into a storm: I will have such revenges on you both
That all the world shall—I will do such things—
What they are yet I know not, but they shall be
The terrors of the earth. (II.iv.281-84)

He includes different personal views of King Lear from many different editors and authors; ranging in centuries from 1880 to 1950’s giving the reader a fascinating variety of different outlooks on Lear. He includes good and bad varieties as well, so it is not bias, such as the “Lear so confident in the ‘justice of his cause’ that he ‘need hardly formulate his plea’” (Adams, 223) view given from Chambers, a “Lear at the play’s outset ‘moved by injured self-esteem to anger which demands revenge’”(Adams, 223) reasoning giving by Campbell and Knights very different view of Lear, a more ridiculous Lear to which he wondered “’What could be more painfully incongruous, spoken…by an old man, a King, to his daughter? It is not far from the ridiculous.’” (Adams 223).

Many other editors/authors that Adams refers to can relate to Knights view of Lear such as Leech, Hielman and Danby. Adams also includes Goneril’s view of her father as “Old fools are babes again”(I,iii.19). Adams states that “The view of Lear as impotent, absurd, even comic is most readily arrived at by those to tend (as do perhaps a majority of contemporary critics) to accept some version of Goneril’s Lear” (Adams, 224). Adams concludes that he does not agree with Knights statement that “Lear’s revenges provide us with a purgatory”(Adams 227) and sees Lear as a “great and heroic figure” (Adams,227). He also says that though Lear’s suffering he is “enabled in the end once again to accept and return the love he had earlier” (Adams, 227). Adams concludes that Lear’s revenges are to suffer and gain insight, “most of all into the nature of love as opposed to self-love.”(Adams 227). Reflection

These two articles helped me understand and interpret many things about the play. In Newman’s article he made connections between the parenting patterns of three characters Cornwall, King Lear and Gloucester. I related to the connection Newman made between Lear’s concern with his daughters’ rights to the kingdom and how Gloucester spent his life denying and being embarrassed of his illegitimate son Edmund. Yet, the most enjoyable point in the article to me was when Newman pointed out the irony in the fact that both Cornwall and Gloucester finally accept Edmund. Cornwall didn’t accept him because he was a bastard and was frowned upon by society and Gloucester was embarrassed of his son.

This showed me that this was not just a nice gesture by either man, which I had previously thought, yet really it was just an example of their gullibility and their lack of parenting skills. It showed me how both men were actually very stupid in making this decision because neither of them checked in his accusations about Edgar so see if they were even true. Newman also brings Lear into this, saying that the actions of Cornwall and Gloucester are parallel to those of Lear in the topic of fathering. These connections really made me see how each man failed in their own way to be good parents, and also how their parenting techniques were similar as well. Newman also wrote about the “satisfaction then, in seeing Cornwall, a representative of that section of society that has been concerned to exclude Edmund, willingly adsorb him and simultaneous hasten his own destruction.” (Newman, 192).

This was one of my favourite lines in the article because I appreciate irony in literature, and I never fully saw the fact that Cornwall was a member of the same society that wanted bastards,like Edmund,to be gone. Yet he adopted him as a step son in only a few minutes. In Adams article I very much enjoyed all the different views of King Lear and his revenges; he added views of different people, and it was not just a long article about just his view of King Lear. This gave me many different insights of King Lear as a character. I affiliated with Campbell’s reasoning for King Lear’s revenge, that it was his injured self-esteem that caused him to seek revenge.

I already had an idea like this because of how self-obsessed Lear is, yet I thought it was just out of pure anger for the way his daughters’ were acting, not because of an injured ego. I also never considered Danby’s reasoning/view of King Lear. He says that Lear returns to the first-scene mood where he “took himself to be God the rewarder of merits. Now he will be God the avenger of iniquities.” (Adams, 224). I genuinely like this reasoning and relish the way he said it because it almost makes you feel the same way Lear is feeling when he vows to take revenge on his daughters’. It is a very powerful and reasonable retaliation against his daughters’ that makes me think of him as a God in a way: I have given, and I will shall take away! In conclusion these two articles have helped me see three main characters in many different aspects and have helped me define and develop each character in my own personal way.


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