Enjoying "King Lear" by William Shakespeare

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"Cordelia. We are not the first,
Who, with best meaning, have incurr'd the worst.
For thee, oppressed king, am I cast down;
Myself could else out-frown false fortune's frown.—
Shall we not see these daughters, and these sisters?
Lear. No, no, no, no! Come, let's away to prison:
We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage:
When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down,
And ask of thee forgiveness: so we'll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them too—
Who loses, and who wins; who's in, who's out;—
And take upon us the mystery of things
As if we were God's spies: and we'll wear out,
In a wall'd prison, packs and sects of great ones,
That ebb and flow by the moon.
Edmund. Take them away.
Lear. Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,
The gods themselves throw incense."

Free King Lear Essays and Papers - 123HelpMe

Enjoying "King Lear", by William Shakespeare by Ed Friedlander M.D

Free King Lear papers, essays, and research papers.

The following representative parallels to the four rejected stanzas in the Eton MS (see l. 72 n) are intended to stress the mood of Christian Stoicism which underlies the first conclusion to the Elegy and which G[ray]. almost entirely removed in his revision of the poem. Most of the parallels are drawn from James Hervey's popular Meditations among the Tombs (1746) and his other Meditations and Contemplations (references here are to the 4th collected edn of 1748 in 2 vols), a work which acknowledged the influence of Young's slightly earlier Night Thoughts (1742-5). Certain features of the Elegy, in particular the churchyard setting, the silent darkness, the graves, the bell and the owl, although found in other writers, are exploited with sensational effect by Hervey, but the following parallels are confined to the four rejected stanzas:
1-2. Hervey i 72: 'Let Others, if they please, pay their obsequious Court to your wealthy Sons; and ignobly fawn, or anxiously sue, for Preferments; my Thoughts shall often resort, in pensive Contemplation, to the Sepulchres of their Sires; and learn, from their sleeping Dust, - to moderate my Expectations from Mortals: - to stand disengaged from every undue Attachment, to the little Interests of Time: - to get above the delusive Amusements of Honour; the gaudy Tinsels of Wealth; and all the empty Shadows of a perishing World.'
This passage is followed immediately, i 73, by a description of the bell: 'Hark! What Sound is That! - In such a Situation, every Noise alarms. - Solemn and slow, it breaks again upon the silent Air. - 'Tis the Striking of the Clock: Designed, one would imagine, to ratify all my serious Meditations ...'
3-4. Young, Night Thoughts v 253-4: 'Grief! more proficients in thy school are made / Than genius or proud learning e'er could boast'; Hervey ii 12: 'Our Innocence, is of so tender a Constitution, that it suffers in the promiscuous Croud; our Purity of so delicate a Complexion, that it scarce touches on the World, without contracting a Stain. We see, we hear, with Peril. But here Safety dwells. Every meddling and intrusive Avocation is secluded. Silence holds the Door against the Strife of Tongues, and all the Impertinencies of idle Conversation. The busy Swarm of vain Images, and cajoling Temptations; that beset Us, with a buzzing Importunity, amidst the Gaieties of Life; are chased by these thickening Shades.'
5-8. See Elegy 93-6 n (p. 135) for a parallel to this stanza from Thomas Warton's Pleasures of Melancholy (1747).
9-12. Young, Night Thoughts v 195-200: 'auspicious midnight! hail! / The world excluded, every passion hushed, / And opened a calm intercourse with heaven, / Here the soul sits in council; ponders past, / Predestines future action; sees, not feels, / Tumultuous life, and reasons with the storm'; and ibid ix at end: 'Thus, darkness aiding intellectual light, / And sacred silence whisp'ring truths divine, / And truths divine converting peace to pain'; Joseph Warton, Ode to Evening 21-4: 'Now ev'ry Passion sleeps; desponding Love, / And pining Envy, ever-restless Pride; / An holy Calm creeps o'er my peaceful Soul, / Anger and mad Ambition's storms subside'; Hervey i 3: 'The deep Silence, added to the gloomy Aspect, and both heightened by the Loneliness of the Place, greatly increased the Solemnity of the Scene. - A sort of religious Dread stole insensibly on my Mind, as I advanced, all pensive and thoughtful, along the inmost Isle. Such as hushed every ruder Passion, and dissipated all the gay Images of an alluring World'; ibid i 11: 'Drowned is this gentle Whisper, amidst the Noise of mortal affairs; but speaks distinctly, in the Retirements of serious Contemplation'; ibid i 13-14: 'Oh! that we might learn from these friendly Ashes, not to perpetuate the Memory of Injuries; not to foment the Fever of Resentment; nor cherish the Turbulence of Passion; that there may be as little Animosity and Disagreement in the Land of the Living, as there is in the Congregation of the Dead!'; ibid ii xvi: 'The Evening, drawing her Sables over the World, and gently darkening into Night, is a Season peculiarly proper for sedate Consideration. All Circumstances concur, to hush our Passions, and sooth our Cares; to tempt our Steps abroad, and prompt our Thoughts to serious Reflection.'
13-14. Dryden, Lucretius, Latter Part of Book III, Against the Fear of Death 267-70: 'Eternal troubles haunt thy anxious mind, / Whose cause and cure thou never hop'st to find; / But still uncertain, with thyself at strife, / Thou wander'st in the Labyrinth of Life.'"

Love Like Salt - University of Pittsburgh

"The first notable criticism of the Elegy did not appear until the 1780s. Johnson's brief but eloquent tribute in the Lives of the Poets (1781) was followed in more senses than one in 1783 by John Young's Criticism of the Elegy (2nd edn, 1810), a detailed discussion of the poem in a manner deliberately imitating Johnson's. There is also a chapter on the Elegy in John Scott's Critical Essays (1785) pp. 185-246. Discussion of the poem in the next century tended to be pre-occupied with such matters as G.'s sources, the location of the churchyard and G.'s relationship to the 'Age of Reason', and to attempt little more critically than general appreciation of G.'s eloquence, along the lines of Johnson's tribute. Some recent discussions of the poem, in addition to those mentioned above, which should be consulted are: Roger Martin, Essai sur Thomas Gray (Paris, 1934) pp. 409-36; William Empson, Some Versions of Pastoral (1935) p. 4; Cleanth Brooks, The Well Wrought Urn (1949) pp. 96-113; F. W. Bateson, English Poetry: A Critical Introduction (1950) pp. 181-93; and three essays by Ian Jack, B. H. Bronson and Frank Brady in From Sensibility to Romanticism, ed. F. W. Hilles and H. Bloom (1965) pp. 139-89. Amy L. Reed's The Background to Gray's Elegy (New York, 1924), investigates melancholy as a subject in earlier eighteenth-century poetry, but does not throw a great deal of light on the poem itself.
The crucial fact about the poem, of which by no means all discussions of the Elegy take account, is that we possess two distinct versions of it: the version which originally ended with the four rejected stanzas in the Eton MS, and the familiar, revised and expanded version. Many of the difficulties in the interpretation of the poem can be clarified if the two versions are examined in turn. As has been stated above, Mason's assertion that the first version of the poem ended with the rejected stanzas appears to be fully justified. In this form the Elegy is a well-constructed poem, in some ways more balanced and lucid than in its final version. The three opening stanzas brilliantly setting the poem and the poet in the churchyard, are followed by four balanced sections each of four stanzas, dealing in turn with the lives of the humble villagers; by contrast, with the lives of the great; with the way in which the villagers are deprived of the opportunities of greatness; and by contrast, with the crimes inextricably involved in success as the 'thoughtless world' knows it, from which the villagers are protected. The last three stanzas, balancing the opening three, return to the poet himself in the churchyard, making clear that the whole poem has been a debate within his mind as he meditates in the darkness, at the end of which he makes his own choice about the preferability of obscure innocence to the dangers of the 'great world'. (It is the personal involvement of the poet and his desire to share the obscure destiny of the villagers in this version of the poem which make Empson's ingenious remarks in Some Versions of Pastoral ultimately irrelevant and misleading.)
Underlying the whole structure of the first version of the Elegy, reinforcing the poet's rejection of the great world and supplying many details of thought and phrasing, are two celebrated classical poems in praise of rural retirement from the corruption of the court and city: the passage beginning O fortunatos nimium in Virgil's Georgics ii 458 ff and Horace's second Epode, (Beatus ille ...). For a study of the pervasive influence of these poems on English poetry in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-centuries, see Maren-Sofie Rostvig, The Happy Man (2 vols, Oslo, 1954-58). In the concluding 'rejected' stanzas of the first version of the Elegy the classical praise of retirement is successfully blended with the Christian consolation that this world is nothing but vanity and that comfort for the afflicted will come in the next, although G.'s handling of the religious theme is very restrained. His tact and unobtrusiveness are all the more marked when his poem is compared with the emotional, even melodramatic, effects to which the other 'graveyard' practitioners - Young, Blair and Hervey - are prepared to resort when handling the same themes. The appendix to the poem (see p. 140), giving some parallels between these final stanzas and Hervey in particular, will suggest G.'s relationship to the religious meditators, but he shares none of their cemetery horrors and emotional over-indulgence. The classical or 'Augustan' restraint and balance which preserved him from such excesses is a strength which is manifested similarly in the balanced structure of the poem as a whole, as well as in the balancing effect of the basic quatrain unit.
The conclusion of the first version of the Elegy ultimately failed to satisfy G., partly perhaps because it was too explicitly personal for publication, but also no doubt because its very symmetry and order represented an over-simplification of his own predicament, of the way he saw his own life and wished it to be seen by society. A simple identification with the innocent but uneducated villagers was mere self-deception. G.'s continuation of the poem may lack some of the clarity, control and authority of the earlier stanzas, but it does represent a genuine attempt to redefine and justify his real relationship with society more accurately by merging it with a dramatisation of the social role played by poetry or the Poet. As G. starts to rewrite the poem, the simple antitheses of rich and poor, of vice and virtue, of life and death, which underlay the first version, are replaced by a preoccupation with the desire to be remembered after death, a concern which draws together both rich and poor, making the splendid monuments and the 'frail memorials' equally pathetic. This theme, which runs counter to the earlier resignation to obscurity and the expectation of 'eternal peace' hereafter, leads G. to contemplate the sort of ways in which he, or the Poet into whom he projects himself, may be remembered after his death, and the assessments he gives in the words of the 'hoary-headed swain' and of the 'Epitaph' (not necessarily meant to be identical) also evaluate the role of poetry in society. The figure of the Poet is no longer the urban, urbane, worldly, rational Augustan man among men, with his own place in society; what G. dramatises is the poet as outsider, with an uneasy consciousness of a sensibility and imagination at once unique and burdensome. The lack of social function so apparent in English poetry of the mid- and late eighteenth-century is constantly betrayed by its search for inspiration in the past. Significantly, G.'s description of the lonely, melancholy poet is riddled with phrases and diction borrowed from Spenser, Shakespeare and Milton. The texture of these stanzas is fanciful, consciously 'poetic', archaic in tone.
If the swain's picture of the lonely Poet is respectful but puzzled, emphasising the unique and somehow valuable sensibility which characterises him, the 'Epitaph', from a different standpoint, assesses that sensibility as the source of such social virtues as pity and benevolence (see l. 120n). G.'s Pindaric Odes of the 1750s were to show his continuing preoccupation with the subject of the function of poetry in society: for all his assertions of its value, the deliberate obscurity of the poems themselves betrays G.'s own conviction that poetry could not and perhaps should not any longer attempt to communicate with society as a whole. The central figure of himself is a not totally unpredictable development of the Poet at the end of the Elegy: more defiant in his belief that poetry and liberty in society are inseparably involved with each other and his awareness of the forces which are hostile to poetry; equally isolated and equally, if more spectacularly, doomed.
Two marginal problems associated with the Elegy may be mentioned in conclusion. The early nineteenth-century tradition that General Wolfe, on the night before the capture of Quebec from the French in 1759, declared, 'I would rather have been the author of that piece than beat the French tomorrow', is examined in detail by F. G. Stokes in an appendix to his edn of the Elegy (Oxford, 1929) pp. 83-8. Stokes also deals in another appendix (pp. 89-92), with the tiresome question of 'The Locality of the Churchyard'. Not surprisingly, no definite identification of the churchyard can be made, in spite of the number of candidates for the honour. (In his own lifetime, G. was already having to deny that he had been describing a churchyard he had never visited.) Anyone versed in the 'graveyard' poetry and prose of the mid-eighteenth-century will be satisfied that G. borrowed the traditional apparatus of his churchyard from no particular location."

Source: William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of King Lear, act 1, scene 1
Literary Terms and Definitions C - Carson-Newman …

King Leir - Anonymous - printed 1605 - Elizabethan …

It has been said, and we think justly, that the third act of Othello and the three first acts of LEAR, are Shakespear's great master-pieces in the logic of passion: that they contain the highest examples not only of the force of individual passion, but of its dramatic vicissitudes and striking effects arising from the different circumstances and char-acters of the persons speaking. We see the ebb and flow of the feeling, its pauses and feverish starts, its impatience of opposition, its accumulating force when it has time to recollect ifself, the manner in which it avails itself of every passing word or gesture, its haste to repel insinuation, the alternate contraction and dilatation of the soul, and all "the dazzling fence of controversy" in this mortal combat with poisoned weapons, aimed at the heart, where each wound is fatal. We have seen in Othello, how the unsuspecting frankness and impetuous passions of the Moor are played upon and exasperated by the artful dexterity of Iago. In the present play, that which aggravates the sense of sympathy in the reader, and of uncontroulable anguish in the swoln heart of Lear, is the petrifying indifference, the cold, calculating, obdurate selfishness of his daughters. His keen passions seem whetted on their stony hearts. The contrast would be too painful, the shock too great, but for the intervention of the Fool, whose well-timed levity comes in to break the continuity of feeling when it can no longer be borne, and to bring into play again the fibres of the heart just as they are growing rigid from over-strained excitement. The imagination is glad to take refuge in the half-comic, half-serious comments of the Fool, just as the mind under the extreme anguish of a surgical operation vents itself in sallies of wit. The character was also a grotesque ornament of the barbarous times, in which alone the tragic ground-work of the story could be laid. In another point of view it is indis-pensable, inasmuch as while it is a diversion to the too great intensity of our disgust, it carries the pathos to the highest pitch of which it is capable, by showing the pitiable weakness of the old king's conduct and its irretrievable consequences in the most familiar point of view. Lear may well "beat at the gate which let his folly in," after, as the Fool says, "he has made his daughters his mothers." The character is dropped in the third act to make room for the entrance of Edgar as Mad Tom, which well accords with the increasing bustle and wildness of the incidents; and nothing can be more complete than the distinction between Lear's real and Edgar's assumed madness, while the resemblance in the cause of their distresses, from the severing of the nearest ties of natural affection, keeps up a unity of interest. Shakespear's mastery over his subject, if it was not art, was owing to a knowledge of the connecting links of the passions, and their effect upon the mind, still more wonderful than any systematic adherence to rules, and that anticipated and outdid all the efforts of the most refined art, not inspired and rendered instinctive by genius. One of the most perfect displays of dramatic power is the first interview between Lear and his daughter, after the designed affronts upon him, which, till one of his knights reminds him of them, his sanguine temperament had led him to overlook. He returns with his train from hunting, and his usual impatience breaks out in his first words, "Let me not stay a jot for dinner; go, get it ready." He then encounters the faithful Kent in disguise, and retains him in his service; and the first trial of his honest duty is to trip up the heels of the officious Steward who makes so prominent and despicable a figure through the piece. On the entrance of Gonerill the following dialogue takes place:—

Skalliger, a nobleman, follower of King Leir

Perillus, a nobleman, follower of King Leir

"The success of the Elegy was remarkable. The Monthly Review iv 309, for Feb. 1751 (published at the end of the month), commented that 'This excellent little piece is so much read, and so much admired by every body, that to say more of it would be superfluous'. John Hill, in the first of his series of contributions to the Daily Advertiser entitled 'The Inspector' on 5 March 1751 praised the Elegy enthusiastically, asserting that it 'comes nearer the manner of Milton than any thing that has been published since the time of that poet' and comparing it favourably with Lycidas. In 'The Inspector' No. 4 he printed a complimentary poem to the author of the Elegy by 'Musaphil'. The 4th quarto edn of G.'s poem had been published by 7 April and there was a 5th before the end of 1751. By 1763 twelve edns based on Dodsley's quarto had appeared. Inevitably the literary periodicals felt free to publish so celebrated a poem and, apart from the Magazine of Magazines, it had appeared in the London Mag., the True Briton and the Scots Mag. by April 1751. M. Rothkrug, in the article mentioned above, pointed out that the Elegy also appeared in Poems on Moral and Divine Subjects, by Several Celebrated English Poets (Glasgow, 1751); and confirmed that, as had been suspected but not established, it had been published in the Grand Magazine of Magazines in April 1751. Apart from these two publications, the frequent appearances of the Elegy in G.'s lifetime are described in detail by F. G. Stokes in his edn of the Elegy (Oxford, 1929). Stokes, Times Lit. Supp. 1937, p. 92, made an addition to his bibliography of the poem when he noted the inclusion of ll. 1-92 in the 4th edn of a volume of Miscellaneous Pieces, apparently published in 1752 by R. Goadby and W. Owen, the publisher of the Magazine of Magazines. See A. Anderson, The Library, 5th series, xx (1965) 144-8, for a refutation ofStokes's argument for the importance of this text, which was probably not printed in fact until late 1753.
In spite of, or perhaps because of, its popularity, G. rarely mentioned the Elegy after its publication. He made a few comments on it in a letter to Christopher Anstey, who published a Latin translation of the poem in 1762 (Corresp ii 748-9) but otherwise tended to be cynical about its celebrity. During a visit to Scotland in 1765, he spoke to Dr John Gregory of the Elegy: 'which he told me, with a good deal of acrimony, owed its popularity entirely to the subject, and that the public would have received it as well if it had been written in prose' (Sir William Forbes, Life of James Beattie (1806) i 83). Mason also believed this to be G.'s opinion, as he recalled in his 'Memoirs of William Whitehead', in Whitehead's Poems iii (1788) 84: 'It spread, at first, on account of the affecting and pensive cast of its subject, just like Hervey's Meditations on the Tombs. Soon after its publication, I remember that, sitting with Mr. Gray in his College apartment, he expressed to me his surprise at the rapidity of its sale. I replied: ''Sunt Lachrymae rerum, mentem mortalia tangunt.'' He paused awhile, and taking his pen, wrote the line on the title of a printed copy of it lying on his table. ''This,'' said he, ''shall be its future motto.'' ''Pity,'' cryed I, ''that Dr. Young's Night Thoughts have preoccupied it.'' ''So,'' replied he, ''indeed, it is.'' He had still more reason to think I had hinted at the true cause of its popularity, when he found how very different a reception his two odes at first met with.'
Yet if G. at times disliked being a popular author, the 'affecting and pensive' Mr Gray, he was not entirely indifferent to the Elegy's success. A marginal note (apparently added to from time to time) in the transcript of the poem in his Commonplace Book lists, with evident satisfaction, the various edns it passed through, as well as the two Latin translations by Lloyd and Anstey. And he can hardly have been unimpressed by the spate of imitations, parodies and translations into other languages which was already in full flow in his own lifetime; see Northup, Bibliography of G. (1917) pp. 123-45, H. W. Starr's continuation (1953) pp. 33-8, and W. P. Jones, 'Imitations of G.'s Elegy, 1751-1800', Bulletin of Bibliography xxiii (1963) 230-2. This aspect of the Elegy's popularity and influence can be illustrated by John Langhorne's remarks, in his review of An Elegy, Written among the Tombs in Westminster Abbey (Monthly Review xxvi (1762) 356-8), on the number of G.'s imitators: 'An Undertaker was never followed by a more numerous or a more ridiculous tribe of mourners, than he has been; nor is the procession yet over, for, behold, here is another Gentleman in black, with the same funereal face, and mournful ditty; with the same cypress in his hand, and affecting sentence in his mouth, viz. that we must all die! Hark! the Dirge begins.' Langhorne's next review was of Edward Jerningham's The Nunnery, an Elegy, in Imitation of the Elegy in a Churchyard."

The Revenger's Tragedy, by Thomas Middleton - Tech

War is a state of armed conflict between states or societies