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11. Act 2, Scene 4: Reason Not the Need!
About this Lecture
In this module, we read through Act 2, Scene 4, in which Lear and his retinue (including the Fool) arrive at Regan’s house for food and shelter. In particular, we focus on: (i) the figure of the Fool and the meaning of his ironical, nonsensical comments and jokes; (ii) the potential for a Christian interpretation of the play; (iii) the theme of nature and the natural/unnatural; (iv) Regan’s conversation with her father, in which she comments on his age (“O, sir, you are old”, 143); and (v) Lear’s famous speech in which he loses his temper with his daughters (“O, reason not the need!”, 261ff.)
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 2, Scene 4: Reason Not the Need! [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/shakespeare-king-lear-john-mcrae/act-2-scene-4-reason-not-the-need
McRae, John. "Shakespeare: King Lear – Act 2, Scene 4: Reason Not the Need!." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Feb 2019, https://www.massolit.io/courses/shakespeare-king-lear-john-mcrae/act-2-scene-4-reason-not-the-need