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my essay on King lear's progress in Act 2 from denial to rage to isolation


answers: 13
Jun 22, 2009, 02:29pm   #
this is my essay on King lear's progress in Act 2 from denial to rage to isolation. i would like for someone to read over it and tell me if its okay...im also missing an intro and conclusion so i would also like some ideas on those!..please and thank you

In a short period of time consisting of four scenes, we see how King Lear's emotional condition transforms and deteriorates. King Lear, the title character is flawed with denial as a result of his inability to see the truth in front of him, this leads to his downfall. From Act I, there are clear signs that King Lear is in denial of his daughter's true intensions. He cannot see his daughter's and her husband's true motives, since they are masked by lies and deception. This is apparent when King Lear's nobleman Kent, who has served Lear faithfully for many years, disagrees with the king's actions. Kent tells Lear he is insane to reward the flattery of his older daughters and disown Cordelia, who loves him more than her sisters do. Lear turns his anger on Kent, banishing him from the kingdom and telling him that he must be gone within six days. King Lear's inability to see the truth brings rage upon those who try to shed light to it.

As the play progresses to Act II, the King's first instance of denial is upon his arrival at Gloucester's castle when he spots his nobleman Kent in the stocks. When King Lear is told that this wrong doing has been done by Regan and Cornwall, he refuses to believe that this humiliating punishment of his messenger has been done by the two. "They could not, would not do'tó'tis worse than murder To do upon respect such violent outrage. Resolve me with all modest haste which way Thou mightst deserve or they impose this usage, Coming from us" (King Lear, Act 2, Sc.2, 211) Regan and Cornwall's decision to put Kent in the stocks reinforces the disrespect that has already been seen for Lear as a king and a father. King Lear's choice to disregard what his nobleman has told him shows the King's denial and aptitude for self-deception. Enraged, the King tries to get to the bottom of the situation by calling forth Regan and Cornwall to confront them regarding the issue, "The king would speak with Cornwall, the dear father Would with his daughter speak! Commands-tends-service!" (King Lear, Act 2, sc.2, 95) however his lack of authority does not enable him to give commands like he used to. In the end he chooses to acknowledges that sickness can make people behave strangely, "No, but not yet, maybe he is not well; Infirmity doth still neglect all office whereto out health is bound. We are not ourselves When nature, being oppressed, commands the mind To suffer with the body. I'll forbear, And am fallen out with my more headier will To take the indisposed and sickly fit." (King Lear, Act 2, Sc 2, 283). His curiosity to find out the truth by confronting his daughter and her husband only leads to more deception and denial as he accepts their dismissal of his request and passes the blame on their travel.

As the King continues on a path of denial, he is coaxed into believing that his daughter Goneril's unkind and betraying actions are justified by his increasing age and inability to be reasonable and that he should beg for her forgiveness, "O, sir, you are old: Nature in you stands on the very verge Of her confine. You should be ruled and led By some discretion that discerns your state Better than you yourself. Therefore I pray you That to our sister you do make a return; Say you have wronged her, sir" (King Lear Act 2, Sc 4, 338) Upon hearing this advice the king begins to curse, here we see the first signs of the King's rage, "She hath abated me of half my train, Looked black upon me, struck me with her tongue Most serpent-like, upon the very heart. All the sorted vengeances of heaven fall On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones, You taking airs, with llaemness!" (King Lear, Act 2, Sc 4, 339) Lear's rage and disgust are further established as Goneril arrives at Gloucester's castle and she and Regan plot to ally against their father. Regan refuses to host her father and his full complement of knights. They both tell Lear that he is getting old and weak and that he must give up half of his men, in the end both Goneril and Regan refuse to allow him any servants. Outraged, Lear curses his daughters and heads outside, we see flashes of this anger and madness when he curses Goneril, and then, later, when he declares that instead of returning to Goneril's house without servants, he will flee houses entirely and live in the open air. As Lear begins to see the growing dishonor his daughters have for him, it become more and more painful. Lear was blinded by Regan and Goneril's love in which he denied their corruption. Yet when he had to accept the truth that his daughters were his "corrupted blood," he became filled with anger. "Now I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad: I will not trouble thee, my child. Farewell: We'll no more meet, no more see one another. But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter, Or rather a disease that's in my flesh, Which I must needs call mine. Thou art a boil, A plague sore, or embossed carbuncle In my corrupt blood. But I'll not chide thee: Let shames come when it will; I do not call ut, I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot." (King Lear, Act 2, Sc 4, 393) Lear finds the source of his own corruption in that of his daughters, they have taken a part of his identity from him; his ability to be a king. Lear state of anger indicated that he would much rather live outside under the stars or beg shelter in France than stay in the company of those who disrespect his proper place as father and king, "O, reason not the need: our basest beggars Are in the poorest thing superfluous: Allow not nature more than nature needs, Man's life's as cheap as beast's: thou art a lady" (King Lear, act 2, Sc 4, 291) The king would rather experience a dark and chaotic night, than to keep the companionship of his daughters who demand that he abandons his followers. Regan and Goneril instruct Gloucester not to stop their father from venturing into the night. Regan and Goneril remain unmoved and unconcerned that the old king is going forth into a severe storm.

When King Lear loses his authority, he turns to isolation, in an effort to regain some purpose in his life before it slips away. Lear flees from civilization leaving the safety and comfort that he has grown accustomed too all his years as a king. In a contrasting move, he leaves his comfort that has now turned into chaos for the confusing natural world that he must figure out how to conform to. He leaves into the storm, and rather than wait for his daughters to reject him one more time, he rejects them. In the natural world, amongst the storm he is able to reflect and go through a purgatorial suffering only to gain some sort of wisdom. He has been stripped of his love for his daughters, his authority as a king and his self centered mind as a human being, Lear sets out into the storm to find a better version of himself.
Jun 22, 2009, 02:45pm   #
It's choppy. You start out by saying "In a short period of time consisting of four scenes, we see how King Lear's emotional condition transforms and deteriorates." (I think you mean deteriorates and transforms.) But then you backtrack and talk about earlier scenes.

Also, I notice some grammar and punctuation errors. For example, in terms of punctuation, this:
King Lear, the title character is flawed with denial as a result of his inability to see the truth in front of him, this leads to his downfall.
should be this:
King Lear, the title character, is flawed with denial as a result of his inability to see the truth in front of him; this leads to his downfall.

But look at the first half of the sentence, which is incoherent. What does "flawed with denial" mean? Is denial something different than "inability to see the truth in front of him"? Do you really need all those words to say that Lear's refusal to face facts led to his downfall?
Jun 22, 2009, 09:23pm   #
EF_Simone:
Is denial something different than "inability to see the truth in front of him"?


And remember, the answer to that question is actually "yes." If he cannot see the truth, he may be described as stupid, slow, dull, etc. But if he is in denial, then he can see the truth, on some level is aware of it, but is refusing to accept it. So, don't confuse the two concepts in your essay.
Jun 22, 2009, 11:44pm   #
kai:
is there anything else i can do to make my essay clearer?

Edit ruthlessly for clarity and concision. As George Orwell said, ask yourself, "What am I trying to say?" and then say it as directly as possible. And, again quoting Orwell, "If it is possible to cut a word out, cut it out."
Jun 23, 2009, 08:18pm   #
EF_Sean:
Or, as he he should have said "Cut every word you can," which would have been more in keeping with his own rule.

Except that he also says to break his rules in order to avoid ugly prose. My guess is that he liked the rhythm of "If you can cut a word out, cut it out." I know that I really enjoy saying it out loud when teaching the "Politics and the English Language" from which it comes.

That said, one of the funny things about that essay is how frequently Orwell fails to take his own advice within it.
Jun 24, 2009, 04:26am   #
EF_Simone:
Except that he also says to break his rules in order to avoid ugly prose.


But what point in having a guidebook to writing better prose if you are already capable of avoiding ugly prose on your own? If in fact his rules are not compatible with beautiful prose, then they are in need of refining. It occurs to me that he could even have said "Cut wherever possible" and saved even more verbiage. What should be cut could be inferred from the context of the book.
Jun 24, 2009, 08:31am   #
Perhaps you should read the essay -- it's called "Politics and the English Language" and is widely available online -- before we continue to discuss it. I find its guidelines to be extremely useful, so much so that they are (or, rather were -- I just moved) taped to the wall over both of my writing desks. I also think that the premise of the essay -- that lazy, conventional writing leads to lazy, conventional thinking (and vice versa) -- is consistent with your views.
Jun 24, 2009, 01:48pm   #
The essay is interesting and well-written. Mostly he is giving the advice we always give, to write clearly and concisely, preferring the specific to the general. His point about using Saxon rather than Latin or Greek based words to get strong writing has been noted before. Churchill, for instance, wrote such strong speeches largely by picking Saxon words over the alternatives.

I find it interesting, though, that you interpret him as saying "to break his rules in order to avoid ugly prose." His actual phrasing is "Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous," which, given the title of his essay, could be interpreted as meaning something much different.



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