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Images And Themes In King Lear Notes

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Images 07/10/2014 Images and Themes in King Lear
 Nothing
-An important concept in the play as Lear loses everything and is reduced to nothing and he learns the value of Cordelia's 'Nothing, my Lord'
-Other characters help Lear come to terms with his 'nothingness' with imagery that echoes Cordelia's, the Fool (Act 1 Scene 4) taunts Lear with the concept of nothing
-Act 3 the sight of Poor Tom pushes Lear to ask 'Is man no more than this?' Gloucester is equally taunted by 'nothing', Edmund pretends his fake letter is 'nothing, My Lord', a copy of Cordelia's reply in an ironic alarming way
 Clothing
-Closely linked to the idea about appearance and reality
-Outward appearances are deceptive
-Virtuous characters assume disguises in order to survive
-Significant representation on the Heath when Lear's companions, Kent, Edgar and The Fool are all humbly dressed and yet despite their inferior status, they seem to be the source of hope, charity and justice
-Ceremonial garments and clothing of the court conceal the truth
-Goneril, Regan and Edmund all possess attractive exteriors
-When Lear is forced to face reality, he removes his Kingly garments and the clothing is proof of his folly
-Act 4, Lear has gained wisdom stating 'furred gowns hide all'
-When his sanity is restored he is put in new clothes, he no longer needs his poisonous crown to symbolise his jarred senses

-Poor Tom's back-story as a lustful serving man also enhances the idea that clothing is linked with corruption
 Animal Imagery
-Goneril and Regan are the most prominent examples of where animal imagery is used- they are also likened to monsters and fiends
-Goneril- 'Sharp-toothed, like a vulture' with a 'wolfish visage'
-Regan- 'look black… most serpent like'
-Gloucester says both sisters have 'boarish fangs'
-Albany says they behave like 'monsters of the deep' Edmund- 'toad-spotted traitor', when describing himself
-They are predators and posses inhumane qualities and run via their animal instincts
-Animals are used to convey Lear's plight, the Fool describes Lear like a Hedge sparrow, professing his vulnerability
-On the heath he is reduced to an abject state, recognising himself as a 'a poor bare forked animal'
-Lear's vulnerability is re-enforced in the final scene where he pictures life in prison with Cordelia- 'sing like birds in a cage', it is the first time animal imagery is used attractively yet birds are passive and tame, suggesting Lear's vision of happiness in deluded
 Sight and Blindness
-Importance of seeing yourself and the world clearly is a key issue in King Lear
-Consistent references to light and darkness, sight and blindness and eyes and weeping
-First seen Kent warns Lear 'See better, Lear' and begs his master to remain 'The true blank of thine eye', Lear's reply 'Out of my sight' may suggest that Lear is already blind to goodness and is unable to look open anyone's merits and faults clearly

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