King Lear—Essay (Act III, Scene 2)
The Storm in Lear’s life
Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanes, spout
Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Smite flat the thick rotundity o' the world!
Crack nature's moulds, and germens spill at once,
That make ingrateful man!
Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain!
Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters:
I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness;
I never gave you kingdom, call'd you children,
You owe me no subscription: then let fall
Your horrible pleasure: here I stand, your slave,
A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man:
But yet I call you servile ministers,
That have with two pernicious daughters join'd
Your high engender'd battles 'gainst a head
So old and white as this. O! O! 'tis foul!
Shakespeare's tragedy “King Lear” is a detailed description of the consequences of one man's decisions. This fictitious man is Lear, King of England, whose decisions greatly alter his life and the lives of those around him. As Lear bears the status of King he is, as one expects, a man of great power but he surrenders all of this power to his daughters as a reward for their demonstration of love towards him. This untimely abdication of his throne results in a chain reaction of events that send him through a journey of hell. In the selected passage, which is a resulting event of Lear giving his kingdom to his two ‘pernicious’ daughters, Lear is out on the heath facing the storm after being treated abusively by Regan and Goneril. One can say that the major theme depicted in this passage is the natural and unnatural. Shakespeare paints the character of King Lear in vivid detail and puts this character through a series of life-altering events. By examining the events and the change that Shakespeare presents, the concept of natural and unnatural behavior can be better understood. In this passage, as the storm continues on the heath. Lear’s mood matches the intensity of nature’s turbulence as he rages against his daughters’ abusive treatment. Lear is trying to face down the powers of nature, an attempt that seems to indicate both his despair and his increasingly confused sense of reality. Both of these strains appear in Lear’s famous speech to the storm, in which he commands, “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow! / You cataracts and hurricanes, spout / Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!”. Lear’s attempt to speak to the storm suggests that he has lost touch with the natural world and his relation to it— or at least, that he has lost touch with the ordinary human understanding of nature. In a sense, though, his outburst against the weather embodies one of the central questions posed by King Lear: namely, whether the universe is fundamentally friendly or hostile to man. Lear asks whether nature and the gods are actually good, and, if so, how life can have treated him so badly. The audience observes how Lear copes with the swell of problems besieging him; which have resulted due to his own actions. As he calls upon the storm to unleash its fury on the world, he also cries out for the destruction of ungrateful man: “Crack nature’s moulds, all germens spill at once / That make ingrateful man!”. By destroying the molds that nature uses to create men, the genetic code of life will be lost. In this instance, Lear is without hope; his hopelessness and dejection is so great that it approaches nihilism, a belief in nothing. One can see that, Lear, who is unused to such harsh conditions, soon finds he is symbolically stripped bare. He has already discovered that his cruel daughters can victimize him; now he learns that a king caught in a storm is as much subject to the power of nature as any...
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