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7. Act 1, Scenes 4-5: Goneril, Lear, and the Fool
About this Lecture
In this module, we read through the second half of Act 1, Scene 4, in which Lear rants and raves at Goneril, as well as the very short Act 1, Scene 5, in which the Fool teases Lear. In particular, we think about: (i) the importance (once again) of the theme of ‘nothing’ (“I am a fool, thou art nothing”, 184-5); (ii) the themes of obedience, disobedience, gratitude and ingratitude (“Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend”, 251); (iii) the idea that Lear is being “unmanned” by his daughter (“I am ashamed | That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus”, 288-9); and (iv) the Fool’s interest in reversal and opposites.
In this twenty-five part course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Shakespeare’s King Lear. We begin with a broad introduction to the historical, political and intellectual context of early 17th-century England. After that, we go through the play scene by scene, providing close reading and detailed analysis, with commentary on character, plot, themes and motifs, language, symbolism – and more.
We use the Arden (Third Series) edition of the play. Students using a different edition of the play may encounter slight differences in both the text and line numbers.
John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.
Cite this Lecture
McRae, J. (2019, February 26). Shakespeare: King Lear - Act 1, Scenes 4-5: Goneril, Lear, and the Fool [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/shakespeare-king-lear-john-mcrae/act-1-scenes-4-5-goneril-lear-and-the-fool
McRae, J. "Shakespeare: King Lear – Act 1, Scenes 4-5: Goneril, Lear, and the Fool." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Feb 2019, https://www.massolit.io/courses/shakespeare-king-lear-john-mcrae/act-1-scenes-4-5-goneril-lear-and-the-fool