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Violence In King Lear
Transcript of Violence In King Lear
Its Nature and Importance
Made by Asucena Di Giovanni, Isabella Piccirilli, and Sabrina Ravenda
The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.
- World Health Organization
Includes physical violence, psychological violence, violence against oneself and violence in nature
Through power, physical force, and natural elements
Results in the gain of power, unity between groups of people, and degredation
Nothing is accidental, all violence in the play is injurious by intention
Introduction to Violence in the Play...
Violence to Gain Power
Unity in Violence
Violence for Justice
While violence is mostly thought to be purely physical, it does include using one's power to pyschologically cause harm or intend to cause harm to another.
While the play is riddled with instances of characters trying to harm another through words, or undermining tactics, we will discuss a few important instances of this occuring.
1) Lear disowning Cordelia and Kent
2) Goneril and Regan constantly undermining Lear's authority
3) Lear cursing Goneril at her castle
4) Edgar talking about demons making him go crazy
5) Regan and Cornwall to Gloucester right before they gouge his eyes out
This happens at multiple points in the play...
...This directly leads to his downfall, as his going mad is the cause of his death.
"Put on what weary negligence you please,/You and your fellows" (1.3.13-14)
Goneril intends to outright disrespect her father in order for him to feel undermined in her rule.
"I pray you father, being weak, seem so" (2.4.196)
Goneril and Regan put their father down psychologically, using his age to insult him.
Also, by taking away his knights, they deprive him of his greatest identity, his kinship. This causes him to further his descent into insanity.
Regan allows for her father's servant to sit in the stocks "Till night...and all night too!" (2.2.135), knowing full well that this is a "violent outrage" (2.4.29), "worse than murder" (2.4.30) on the king.
Power struggle is the basis of all Shakespearean plays. And the only way to gain power? Violence. Violence leads to fear, and fear to submission. In King Lear, all acts of violence are motivated by power and control.
The big storm in Act 3 Scene 2 is more of a symbol than actual violence.
It parallels the violence his daughter's have imparted upon him
Without the shelter of his title to reinforce respect from his daughter's , he is left to the elements of their conniving, power hungry ways
He challenges the violence of the storm because he knows it can do nothing that his daughter's have not already done to him.
"All friends shall taste/The wages of their virtue, and all foes/The cup of their deserving" (5.3.301-303)
In the play as a whole, the violence could be attributed as justice for Lear being a poor king
Yet, it also seems like every character who committed some form of violence ended up a victim of it
Characters also use violence as a way of imparting their own justice
eg. Cornwall gouges out Gloucesters eyes because of his "treason"
Albany and Edgar also dish out some justice in the trial by combat against Edmund
Cordelia takes her armies to England to justify what her sisters did to her father
Edmund orders Cordelias hanging as a result of her bringing in her army
“As flies to wanton boys are we to the Gods;/They kill us for their sport”(4.1, 37-38)
Anyone in the play who wants to gain something all end up victimizing or becoming victims of violence
Good examples of this lie in the behaviour of Lear's daughters
Goneril and Regan pyschologically abuse their father to undermine any remaining power he has left, and to gain it for themselves
Afterwards, they fight eachother to gain Edmund's love. This, in turn results in Goneril poisoning her sister, and killing herself.
Cordelia seeks to gain her father's well being, and in this the power of his good graces
She brings her armies into England to fight with physical violence to gain what she desires
Most physical violence takes place near the end, or climax of the play
Gloucester's eyes get gouged out
Cordelia is hung
Edmund dies in a trial by combat
Goneril poisons Regan
Goneril kills herself
Physical violence requires a large amount of brutality. When we see physical violence take place in the play, it solidifies our impressions of, and creates a rift between the villains and the victims.
*The significance of these events will be touched upon later on
Edmund desires the status, land, and title that accompany his father's position
He sets in motion the violence that is to come for Gloucester by betraying his father
Oswald attempts to murder Gloucester because he desires the reward from Regan
When each group of characters have a common enemy to victimize, they work together, and create a bond to be able to do so
eg. Goneril, Regan, Albany, Cornwall, Edmund
Cordelia, Lear, Kent
Albany and Edgar
Edmund & Regan, Edmund & Goneril
This brings about the idea of fate, and the question of if violence is unavoidable, because it it determined to be so
Everyone experiences violence no matter their status as a good or evil individual
This causes Gloucester to believe that justice doesn't exist and violence occurs endlessly for the satisfaction of the gods
Hurting or having the intention to hurt or kill oneself
Like other types of violence it can be used for the gain of power, but it can also be a result of occured violence, and a sign of hopelessness
When Edmund strikes himself with his sword, he does it to gain power over his brother and his father
Gloucester attempts to kill himself as a result of the physical violence which victimized him, but also as a result of Edmund's conniving ways. He feel hopeless and unable to be forgiven by Edgar. His life subsequently means nothing to him.
Goneril kills herself because of the guilt she feels for her sister and the hopelessness of the situation around her
When they no longer have a common enemy, they become chaotic.
Violence comes to all, just as death comes to all.