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King Lear: Storm Seminar

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Kinto Lao

on 21 July 2015

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Transcript of King Lear: Storm Seminar

1579 drawing of the Great Chain of Being from Didacus Valades, Rhetorica Christiana.
A Mirror of Lear's Inner Turmoil
Destruction of Kingdom
3. Chaos in the Kingdom:

The Chain of Being and God's Punishment

Wall, Janet W. "Natural Order in King Lear." Texas Digital Library. N.p., May 1961. Web. 17 July 2015.

Somroo, A.R. "Storm Scene in King Lear." Scribd. N.p., 11 Sept. 2009. Web. 17 July 2015.

Maclean, Norman. "Episode, Scene, Speech, and Word." Norman Maclean. University of Chicago Press, n.d. Web. 17 July 2015.

Viguers, Susan. "The Storm in King Lear." Pembrokeshire Archives and Local Studies. N.p., Mar. 2000. Web. 19 July 2015.
Pathetic Fallacy
The Storm
The Symbolic and Psychological Significance of The Storm
Human emotions and traits are attributed to aspects of the natural world and inanimate objects
State of the world is revealed through this reflection
Nature reflects the emotions and traits of characters

Why do you think this type of theory existed during Shakespeare's time?

What other examples of this belief can be found in King Lear or any other plays?
Climax of the story
It's most relevant occurrence happening when Lear bursts out of Regan's Castle in a mad rage.
The storm scene constitutes the mechanical center in “King Lear”
It is recognized as the dramatic background to the tempest of human emotion.

Revealing Storm Imagery
The storm is evoked through the words and actions of Lear
Four elements are established through Lear's passage: "Rain, wind, thunder, fire" (3.2.15)
Each element reflects an aspect of the nature of the storm
The language "evokes rather than describes" (Viguers 2)the storm
Act 3: Scene 2
A.R. Somroo states the storm reflects Lear’s sufferings and the lessons he learns through these sufferings
The storm is significant for Lear, but he does not care for it, because the storm in his mind is greater than the physical storm
Wind, thunder, rain and lightning are the fitting elements for Lear’s passion
the storm is a mirror of the inner turmoil and madness in Lear’s mind
the raging disturbance inside his mind has been transferred to the setting of the story

Which Act and Scene does the storm make its most significant appearance?

Why does it occur?

in last perception, Lear sees the storm as a sort of redemption
he is commanding the storm to destroy the world and rebuild it.
Janet Wall states: In his next speech, Lear believes that the storm is the herald of justice and judgment

Lear has many different perceptions of the storm
by the end of the passage he has a completely different view of it
A.R. Somroo states it is the rage of storm that awakens in him a great change
In his first stage or perception of the storm, he is encouraging it so that it can destroy him and rid him of his misery.
in Janet Wall’s literary analysis it agrees that as Lear begins to lose his hold on sanity, his evaluation of the storm shifts rapidly from one point to another
first he defies the thunder, challenging it to destroy him and the world

Janet Wall also states: In his next perception he regards the storm as his enemy, the ally of his cruel daughters
seems that nature at this time joins hands with cruelty that has already been shown to Lear by his daughters
What does the violent storm represent?
In King Lear, the storm is tied to the titular character's displacement in the natural order of being. The storm’s psychological and symbolic significance is its reflection of the inner turmoil in Lear’s mind as he descends into madness, and of the chaos within the kingdom and the heavens.

1.Storm parallels the disorder in Britain
2.Storm is the result of disrupting the Natural Order
Prof. A.R.Somroo states, Lear is a society in him, and when a king dies, he does not die alone, but a whole of society dies with him.”
A C Bradley writes, "The storm in King Lear coincides with the storm in the human affairs…”
"The sixteenth century viewed the universe as a harmonious whole, operating under God and ruled by natural law."
Mirror of the Whole of Nature, and the Image of Art
illustrated by Robert Fludd
The Great Chain of Being - image from Shakespeare's Life and Times

The storm symbolizes chaos and disorder in Lear's kingdom. Based on what we have learned in class, what are some examples that foreshadows inevitable destruction of the kingdom in the play?
A. Moral Corruption
As A.C. Bradley states, “Every thing pertaining to morality is symbolized by the storm.”
"The Natural Order... was believed to operate in three spheres;
the cosmic, the social, and the individual. In the cosmos it was seen as
the Great Chain of Being. In the social order, it appeared as the social hierarchy and the family hierarchy. In the individual, it was the rule of
reason over the passions."
Prof. A.R.Somroo writes, “The storm symbolizes the wrath of God and is a warning for the ingratitude and disobedient children and of approaching doom.”
Wall writes, “In Lear's madness, this is one of the reactions: a world of corruption and decay.”

C. Struggles of the Poor
Professor A.R.Somroo notes that, “It is in the storm that he thinks...of the dreadful fate of the world…”
Wall puts it, the “nakedness is particularly inadequate to the cold and stormy night ...becomes a symbol of the defenselessness in the world.”
In the play, the "good" characters suffered from injustice. At the end, do you think that justice is restored?
Wall “civil strife is the Inevitable result of Lear's partition of the kingdom…”

Lear sees the storm as the representation of the chaos and disorder in the kingdom.

In your opinion, do you believe these problems would be resolved if Lear is restored to the throne?

Would the moral corruption, injustice, and the suffering of the poor have occured if Lear was the one ruling?
God = king = father = reason = light = law

Chaos = abdication = disowning = insanity = darkness = civil disorder
Professor A.R. Somroo summaries, “In short, the storm signifies the universal disorder. It symbolizes disturbance in hell, in heaven, in earth, ‘in Lear’s external and internal kingdom, -- it is a symbol of chaos.”
B. Injustice

Prof.A.R. states, "The storm is also a summoner for the suffering of sinful people. The idea of poetic justice is there. Sinners or wrong doers must be punished by law of nature."
Wall believes that “in the system of Natural Order, justice was the primate among the virtues just as the king was primate among men.”
Introduction to Main Points
The storm is a significant scene in the play
not only is it the climax in the play
it also emphasizes the Elizabethan belief of the “Great Chain of Being”
and how disrupting this order will bring divine and natural disasters
is the pathetic fallacy that mirrors the consequences of upsetting the natural order
Hence, the storm is psychological and symbolically significant as it creates an inner turmoil in Lear’s mind and external chaos and disorder in the kingdom

Thanks for listening!
Janet W. Wall states, “The role of Natural Order in the state furnishes further light on the situation in King Lear. The key to all the problems of the state is Lear's abdication and division of the kingdom.”
A. Moral Corruption
B. Injustice
C. The Suffering of the Poor
& Homeless
Chaos in the Kingdom
The purpose of the storm is not confined to marking of emotional climax
It is one of the agencies which assist in carrying it to its height.
A mirror of Lear's inner turmoil
Destruction of the kingdom
The Chain of Being and God's punishment
Analysis by Susan Vigeurs
- Lear = Kingdom
- Lear's Inner Turmoil = Kindom's Turmoil

Naural Order
Kingdom in
Wall states, “The final result of the breakdown of Natural Order is formlessness, or chaos….At the social level, the breakdown becomes nakedness, injustice, civil war, rebellion, treason, and marital discord.”
- society lack morals
Ex: Goneril and Regan leaving their
father out in the storm to die
Natural Order = Justice
of Natural Order
= Injustice
- Lear cries out to heavens for
divine justice
- storm is symbol of hardships the poor faces
- Lear sees the suffering of the homeless as he undergoes them as well
Full transcript