King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1603 and 1606, and is considered one of his greatest works. The play is based on the legend of King Leir of Britain. It has been widely adapted for stage and screen, with the part of Lear being played by many of the world's most accomplished actors. (From Wikipedia)
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Act 1 Scene 1
This play starts in the middle of a conversation between Kent and Gloucester. This literary device is called
Kent is probably gesturing towards Edmund when he speaks this line.
The fact that Gloucester blushes when acknowledging his son most likely means that
In your own words, please explain the meaning of the highlighted text.
Gloucester suggests that it was his son's fault that he was born out of wedlock!
"My liege" is another way of saying "my lord."
What does the term "darker purpose" insinuate?
The Duke of Cornwall and the Duke of Albany are King Lear's sons-in-law; Cornwall is the husband of Lear's daughter Regan, and Albany is the husband of his daughter Goneril.
King Lear's youngest daughter, Cordelia, is still unmarried; the princes of France and Burgundy are vying for her love.
Watch this short video about the request that sets the CONFLICT of this play in motion. (This annotation contains a video)
An aside is a short comment that the audience is meant to hear but the other characters in the play are not.
Cordelia is saying that she loves her father as much as a child should love a parent.
Which of the following accurately paraphrases Cordelia's response to her father?
King Lear disowns Cordelia on the spot for her response, saying that he will not grant her land or love henceforth. (This annotation contains an image)
King Lear will live with each his daughters Goneril and Regan during alternating months.
Shakespeare often used sight and blindness as motifs and symbols in his plays.
King Lear tells Kent he has five days to pack up and get out of town. Like Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Kent is banished.
Please explain what Kent means by the statement "Freedom lives hence, and banishment is here"?
The moment Burgundy decides not to marry Cordelia, Cordelia sees that he is isn't a worthy match for her, since it's clear he is interested in her dowry rather than her love.
These two musical lines contain
Act 1 Scene 1 Quiz
Act 1 Scene 2-3
If you know Shakespeare's work well, then you're probably wondering if Edmund is being earnest when he claims he doesn't want to show Gloucester the letter. It's possible that he's faking it, and that he had the letter out and hid it with the hope and intention that Gloucester would read it. This behavior is characteristic of Shakespeare's villains. (Iago from Othello spends the entire play lying and deceiving to get his way.)
This means "If our father were dead, you could have half of his money."
What literary device is being used in the highlighted text?
In these lines, Gloucester's reaction to his son's supposed betrayal is similar to
The previous comments of Gloucester's reveal that he is
Ursa Major, also known as the Great Bear, is a constellation dominated by the widely recognized Big Dipper. It has mythological significance in numerous world cultures. (This annotation contains an image)
According to Edmund (and his father), the eclipses foreshadow something. The tone of the play suggests that what is to come has a dark element to it. Consider what an eclipse does; what relation do eclipses have to the symbol of blindness; how does an eclipse stand as a metaphor for the events in the play? (This annotation contains an image)
What does Edmund tell his brother to do?
Remember, the Duke of Albany is Goneril's husband.
These lines illustrate that Goneril
Act 1 Scenes 2-3
Act 1 Scene 4-5
Notice that the Earl of Kent is in disguise; he often appears under the disguise of Caius. Remember, Lear banished Kent in the first act after Kent warned his king not to disown Cordelia.
Kent, disguised as Caius, asks King Lear if he can be his servant. It's clear that Kent has ulterior motives. Please explain, based on what you've read thus far, what Kent's motives probably are.
Shakespeare used fools as characters in many of his plays, including tragedies like King Lear. You can read more about Shakespearean fools here: http://suite101.com/article/shakespearean-fools-the-role-of-shakespeares-clowns-a398223 (This annotation contains a link)
"Clotpoll" is another word for idiot.
The Knight notices that everyone is treating King Lear impolitely.
This line tells us that
"Coxcomb" is the word used to refer to the fool's cap. The fool says that if Kent (disguised as Caius) is working for Lear, he is a fool and should wear a fool's cap.
The fool is one of the only characters in the play who is not afraid to speak the truth.
The Fool jokingly refers to King Lear as "nuncle."
According to the Fool, ___________ can be fools, too.
Lear confesses that, though he chides his Fool for speaking the hard truth, he doesn't want him to stop telling the truth.
Using textual evidence, please explain how the Fool feels about Lear's daughters, Goneril and Regan.
Goneril says she's growing tired of Lear's entourage's riotous behavior. Lear is a king, but provides a dose of chaos and immaturity not often associated with authority figures. Consider these two elements (chaos and authority) as you continue reading the play.
The Fool uses a(n) _____________ in the highlighted lines.
In these lines, King Lear seems
The highlighted text contains
In the highlighted text, King Lear uses ______________ to express his feelings towards Goneril.
Do you get the feeling that Goneril is an evil character or not? Please explain your answer using textual evidence.
Which of the following best SUMMARIZES the meaning of the highlighted text?
What is King Lear worried about?
The Royal Shakespeare Company writes of the Fool: "There is no contemporary parallel for the role of Fool in the court of kings. As Shakespeare conceives it, the Fool is a servant and subject to punishment and yet Lear's relationship with his fool is one of friendship and dependency. The Fool acts as a commentator on events and is one of the characters (Kent being the other) who is fearless in speaking the truth. The Fool provides wit in this bleak play and unlike some of Shakespeare's clowns who seem unfunny to us today because their topical jokes no longer make sense, the Fool in King Lear ridicules Lear's actions and situation in such a way that audiences understand the point of his jokes. His 'mental eye' is the most acute in the beginning of the play: he sees Lear's daughters for what they are and has the foresight to see that Lear's decision will prove disastrous."
Act 1 Scenes 4-5 Quiz
Act 2 Scene 1-2
Curan has exited and Edmund is now speaking a soliloquy. A soliloquy is a speech in which a character is alone in the play while speaking his or her thoughts aloud for the audience to hear.
Please explain why Edmund cuts himself.
Edmund tells his father that Edgar attacked him because
In the highlighted lines, Edmund is
Edmund has ingratiated himself to Cornwall with his lies, and here Cornwall says he'd like Edmund to work for him because Edmund is so trustworthy. This is a great example of situational irony; watch the following video to learn more about this literary device. (This annotation contains a video)
Remember, Kent is disguised as Caius, King Lear's servant.
Which of the following phrases from Kent's outrageous lines DOES NOT contain alliteration?
Watch the video below to learn about the difference between literal and figurative language. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following statements describes the figurative meaning of the highlighted text?
In this scene, Kent is
It turns out Kent attacked Oswald because he doesn't like the looks of his face!
In literary terms, this reference to the Greek mythological hero Ajax is called a(n)
The word "stocks" refers to an instrument of punishment consisting of a heavy wooden frame with holes in which the feet, hands, or head of an offender were locked, as seen below. (This annotation contains an image)
Gloucester beseches Cornwall to
Kent has a letter from Cordelia, who knows he is serving King Lear in disguise.
Act 2 Scenes 1-2 Quiz
Act 2 Scene 3-4
This very short scene serves to give us a brief update on Edgar. Notice the setting: a wood. Edgar is in an unnamed forest somewhere, and Shakespeare tells us this so we can visualize him there as he speaks the following soliloquy...
Which of the following does Edgar proclaim in this soliloquy?
At this point, you should know that when the Fool is present, the truth will be revealed.
What is the tone of the preceding dialogue between King Lear and Kent?
The highlighted lines contain a(n) ______________ comparing King Lear to a wheel running uncontrollably downhill, toward death.
In these lines, "the fool" the Fool is referring to is Kent!
Gloucester says that Regan's husband, the Duke of Cornwall, is "fix'd in his own course." In your own words, please explain what this means.
King Lear is terribly frustrated now, due to a good dose of internal conflict. Watch the following clip to learn how to decipher between internal and external conflict; later, you will be asked to remark on King Lear's internal conflict. (This annotation contains a video)
In your own words, please explain what Regan is saying here.
The phrase "struck me with her tongue" is
Given the context of this line, Cornwall probably means
Here, King Lear is using _____________ to beseech Regan to let him stay with her and Cornwall.
A tucket is the sound of a trumpet.
Notice that King Lear is going back and forth between angry rage and submissive timidity. What do you think accounts for these quick changes: old age, insanity, or manipulation?
Are Regan and Goneril being bad daughters, or is what they are asking fair? Please explain your answer using textual evidence.
King Lear says that what he really needs is patience.
Notice the sudden change in weather. This oncoming storm (or "tempest") is a symbol in the play. Consider what it symbolizes as you read on...
The tempest that begins at the end of this act foreshadows some wild moments to come. To learn more about foreshadowing, please watch the following video. (This annotation contains a video)
Act 2 Scenes 3-4 Quiz
Act 3 Scene 1-4
A heath is a span of open land covered with low shrubs. Again, the setting details enable you to visualize the scene that takes place here.
Which of the following symbols is expressed in the phrase "eyeless rage"?
According to Kent, which of the following is TRUE?
The phrase "here's a night pities neither wise man or fool" contains
Which of the following literary devices DOES NOT appear in the highlighted text?
The "vile thing" Lear is talking about is the fact that he and Kent are seeking refuge in a hovel. A hovel is a small, squalid hut, and for a King to seek shelter in such a place is somewhat bizarre. You can see the profundity of Lear's situation in this scene; remember, he gave his realm over to his daughters, who have forsaken him, which is why he is in this dire situation now.
Albion is the oldest known name of Great Britain.
The "him" in the highlighted text refers to King Lear. This statement illustrates that Gloucester _________________ King Lear.
This is an important line to keep in mind, as it touches upon one of the themes of the book. The video below will help you learn how to identify the theme in a text. (This annotation contains a video)
The storm is a symbol that represents King Lear’s inner turmoil, a comparison Lear makes himself in these lines. He uses the storm as a metaphor for his mounting madness in the lines "the tempest in my mind."
"The foul fiend follows me!" contains
Edgar is disguising himself as a crazy man, and King Lear wonders if Edgar's daughters are responsible for his sad state. Lear is clearly very distraught by Regan and Goneril's betrayal of him, so much so that he sees and feels virtually nothing but their betrayal in the world around him.
Please explain what the term "pelican daughters" expresses about Regan and Goneril. Think about what pelicans do, and how their behavior might compare to Regan and Goneril's treatment of their father. If you're not familiar with pelicans, you can read about them here: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/pelican/
Notice the shift in tone here; the Fool's words are sometimes indecipherable and often full of metaphors, but here he is very direct.
The term "foul fiend" will be repeated over and over by Edgar. This alliterative term "foul fiend" refers to the devil.
From this line, you can infer that
Edgar hears his father speak these words, and starts to get a sense of what's really going on.
Act 3 Scenes 1-4 Quiz
Act 3 Scene 5-7
Edmund is being ________________ in these lines.
Notice that King Lear has been stripped of all of the fine pretensions that made him royal. Though he is still a king by name, he has lost the power and possessions that made him royal.
What do King Lear and Edgar have in common?
Please explain what King Lear, Edgar and the Fool are doing in this scene.
Why are Kent, the Fool and King Lear rushing away?
Are you surprised by Regan and Goneril's brutal responses here? Please explain your answer.
Remember, this scene takes place in Gloucester's castle.
Have you noticed all of the references to plucking out eyes in this scene? At the beginning of the scene, Goneril demands that Gloucester's eyes be plucked out, and now Gloucester says he helped King Lear escape because he didn't want to see Lear's "poor old eyes" plucked out. By now you should know that these references point to one of the symbols in the book: blindness.
The first servant defends Gloucester.
Cornwall fights the first servant, who is defending Gloucester.
What does Gloucester learn in the wake of this violent affair?
The first servant succeeded in wounding Cornwall before he died.
Act 3 Scenes 5-7 Quiz
Act 4 Scene 1-4
This scene takes place in the "heath," which means it takes place
We have established that blindness is a symbol in King Lear; now please explain what blindness symbolizes. Think metaphorically here; choose one character and explain what he or she just can't see. Please support your response using evidence from the text.
In this simile, Gloucester says that the gods treat humans in the same way humans treat flies.
Which of the following statements accurately describes what is happening in this scene?
Given what he says here, what do you imagine Gloucester plans to do when he reaches his destination?
This line contains
A distaff is a stick or spindle onto which wool is wound for spinning. When Goneril says that she must change arms at home and give the distaff to her husband, she means that she is going to have to take charge while Albany remains passive.
Goneril tells Edmund to go back to her brother-in-law's (Cornwall) castle.
A romance is brewing between Goneril and Edmund. Please describe some of the similarities between these two characters.
Which of the following best describes the feelings Albany expresses towards Goneril?
Goneril refers to Edmund as "my Gloucester" here. Though she is happy Cornwall is dead, she worries that Edmund's time with her sister could ruin her own chances of having Edmund herself.
Remember that Cordelia, King Lear's estranged daughter, is married to the King of France.
The queen is Cordelia.
According to the text, why won't King Lear go to his daughter Cordelia?
Which of the following literary devices is used to start this scene?
In her final statement in this scene, Cordelia reveals that France has come to Great Britain on her behalf, for King Lear, not for politics.
Act 4 Scenes 1-4 Quiz
Act 4 Scene 5-7
Regan is referring to Albany.
In your own words, please explain what Regan means when she says "where [Gloucester] arrives he moves all hearts against us."
"Oeillades" is the French word for "glances." What is Regan suggesting in this statement?
Gloucester is noting a change in Edgar's speech, which implies his growing awareness of Edgar's identity. Literally, he is blind; metaphorically, he is starting to "see."
What is Gloucester doing in this scene?
Edgar is pretending to be a different man, standing at the bottom of the cliff that Gloucester "jumped" from. Edgar makes Gloucester think he survived miraculously, but in fact Gloucester didn't jump off a cliff at all; he only fell to the ground, and didn't come close to death.
Over the course of the play, King Lear has gone from
King Lear is now coming to terms with (ie seeing) the truth about Goneril and Regan.
Please compose a sentence using the word mortality. Make sure the sentence illustrates your knowledge of the meaning of the word.
The mythological god, Cupid, is often depicted blindfolded and described as blind. (This annotation contains an image)
The next question will ask you to explain a moment of irony. Before answering the question, watch this video to brush up on your knowledge of irony. (This annotation contains a video)
Please explain how this statement exemplifies irony.
King Lear and Gloucester have both been betrayed by their children; this is the most obvious commonality they share. Please explain what else these two characters have in common.
Edgar is still disguised from everyone present; no one has figured out his true identity yet.
The highlighted sentence contains
Remember, Oswald is Goneril's steward, and he helps her in her conspiracies, one of which is to kill Gloucester.
Edgar speaks with an accent here, to hide his identity.
Notice Edgar is now referring to Gloucester as "father."
In this letter to Edmund, the "him" Goneril refers to is her husband Albany. She beseeches Edmund to kill her husband so she can marry Edmund.
The quality of this exchange between Kent and Cordelia is
The daughters King Lear rewarded (Goneril and Regan) have betrayed him, and the daughter he betrayed (Cordelia) is the one who's loyal to him. This state of affairs exemplifies
What is the difference between Cordelia and her sisters, according to King Lear's comments in the highlighted dialogue, particularly the last line?
Which of the following lines contains a simile?
Act 4 Scene 5-7 Quiz
Act 5 Scene 1-3
Edmund is referring to the Duke of Albany, Goneril's husband. Remember, he denounced the cruelty of Regan and Goneril, but he lacks the decisiveness and confidence to be effective, which is what Edmund means when he says Albany is "full of alteration and self-reproving."
What is Regan trying to find out in this scene?
In the highlighted sentence, the word miscarry most nearly means
What important piece of information is conveyed in this scene?
Are you surprised that Edmund has defeated King Lear and Cordelia? Please explain your answer using textual evidence.
Edmund promises to promote the Captain if he
Albany thanks Edmund for his service and asks that his prisoners, King Lear and Cordelia, be turned over to him.
This line expresses a characteristic of Shakespeare's work, mentioned earlier in the play; fools prophesize the future.
The dialogue in this scene expresses _______________.
Why do you think Regan keeps saying she is sick? What has made her so weak, given she was fierce and unrelenting not long before this scene?
Over the course of the play, two story lines (Lear's and Gloucester's) have __________.
In the highlighted lines, Goneril is touting her
Edgar is trying to make moral sense out of what's happening. In this line, he suggests that the gods punished Gloucester for his infidelity (which resulted in Edmund's birth) by causing him to lose his eyes.
"The wheel is come full circle" refers to the concept of
The gentleman explains here that
Edmund says he means to do some good, and confesses that he wrote a letter ordering the deaths of Cordelia and King Lear. He is hoping he's revealed this information in time to stop the brutal order.
This passage reveals that Edmund and Goneril ordered Cordelia's murder to be disguised as a(n)
Which literary device is NOT used in the highlighted passage?
A falchion is a kind of sword, seen here: (This annotation contains an image)
King Lear is referring as his daughter Cordelia as his "poor fool" here. Remember she and Lear's Fool had something in common: they both told the truth.
The three characters alive and present at the end of the play are Edgar, Kent and Albany. Please describe at least one thing these characters have in common.
Act 5 Scenes 1-3 Quiz