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King Lear Act 5 Scene 3 Essay, Research Paper

Unseen text-King Lear

(The passage is taken from Act 5,scene 3 and only Lear speaks throughout)

The thing I find most interesting about the language used in this passage, is the dream like image it creates. I think the amount of contradictive language, used in the passage is also of some note as it creates ambiguity.

The first language point that grabbed my attention about this passage is that it seems to contain lots of soft sounding words like ?ebb?, ?flow? and ?pray?, which in tandem with the fact that the passage contains lots of single syllable words, allows it to flow easily when reading aloud thus adding to the dreamy tone it creates.

Another language device I think Shakespeare uses to add to the dreamy tone of the passage is his use of repetition and in particularly Lear?s continuous repetition of the word ?And?. Lear is telling his daughter Cordelia and who ever else will listen about his plans for him and her, and by continuously repeating the word ?and? his plans seem less realistic and more dreamier.

The ambiguity in the passage is created by the amount of contradictive language used. The very first line alone emphasises this. It begins with Lear screaming ?No,no,no,no!? but then his very next word is an imperative verb ?come?. Without any word gaps Lear has immediately switched from the negative to the positive. The next line is just as ambiguous because again Shakespeare uses contradictive language this time in the form of an oxymoron, ?We two alone? And a simile ?Will sing like birds in the cage.? This simile seems to sum the attitude Lear shows throughout the extract because he is pleased to go to prison. He imagines being put in prison as a time of happiness away from Gonerill, Regan and the superficial cares of the court (?gilded butterflies.?). I think Shakespeare?s indirectly maybe even directly uses these contradictions to add to the Irony this passage creates, in relation to Lear?s banishment of Cordelia earlier in the play.

In relation to the rest of the play this passage is the beginning of the end. In this part of the play it seems like we see a complete change in Lear from earlier on in the play. Firstly he seems to have retreated into himself and is a lot less concerned with fairness and justice as he is earlier in the play. He is more relaxed and it his calmness that leads to his unrealistic optimism. This optimism is squashed later on as both Cordelia and Lear die, Shakespeare like in a lot of his other tragedies (Romeo and Juliet), has created a sense of hope for the characters only for it to all end in tears.


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