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LEAR: It may be so, my lord.
Hear, Nature, hear, dear goddess, hear!Suspend thy purpose if thou didst intend 270To make this creature fruitful.
Into her womb convey sterility.
Dry up in her the organs of increase,And from her derogate body never springA babe to honor her. If she must teem, 275Create her child of spleen, that it may liveAnd be a thwart disnatured torment to her.
Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth,With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks,Turn all her mother’s pains and benefits 280To laughter and contempt, that she may feel-That she may feelHow sharper than a serpent’s tooth it isTo have a thankless child.-Away, away!In this particular monologue, it explores the theme, nature, immediately. Lear implores nature, to which he worships as a ‘goddess’ or deity to listen to his plea. He strongly believes that the god is capable of doing anything. For example, making her daughter sterile and drying up her womb so that no baby can come out.
Before this monologue, Gonerill wishes that Lear would behave in an orderly manner and would listen to her. Lear then starts to question himself and he seems unable to believe that he is listening to his own daughter because he thinks he is their father and therefore should be able to do whatever he wants.
“Are you our daughter?” Lear says.
Later on, the Fool shows regret for Lear’s reduced status. Lear then becomes angry and declares he will go to Regan’s castle instead assuming she would welcome him. Lear attacks Gonerill’s ingratitude and defends his followers’ honour. After this, in rage, Lear curses Gonerill with no children and if she did have children, they would be disobedient and unloving.
“Dry up in her the organs of increase, … derogate body never spring … Createher child of spleen, that it may live … disnatured torment to her. Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth…” Lear curses.
Shakespeare’s King Lear is a play revolving around the themes of human nature, madness and childishness. In the beginning of this play, King Lear is involved in a childish incident where an old king decides to give away his kingdom to the child who loves him the most based on a speech.
“Now, that we have divided in three our kingdom … tell me, my daughters, which of you shall we say doth love us most, that we our largest bounty may extend”Realistically, who would be so foolish ask their children to show their love on some bluffed words and base his will on what they say? (rhetorical question)The words ‘nature’ appear many times in the play. Why is ‘nature’ so important in the play? One major reason is that it is a powerful means of controlling people. Lear along with other characters think that what is ‘natural’ is right. For example, for much of the play, Lear believes everything he does is natural and any person who frustrates him is unnatural, because it is natural that everyone should obey him without question because he is king. Nature herself is a goddess to whom he can talk to.
“Hear, Nature, hear, dear goddess, hear!” As Lear begs.
There are two different views of nature in Shakespeare’s play, a good or a bad way. Characters are classified as good or evil accordingly to their view of nature. In this monologue, Lear is ‘mad’ and has the evil nature in him at the moment. An example of when nature is evil is with the characters, Edmund, Gonerill and Regan. The evil nature in them feeds and motivates them and make them behave like ruthless predatorial animals.
A major type of image used in the play is that of animals. These are used mainly to compare the character’s behaviours and nature with animals. Animals are seen in the play to be insignificant creatures. In the play, Shakespeare suggests that sometimes humans can be as cruel and insignificant as animals are. He uses metaphors about serpents and fanged animals to compare with the evil character in the play.
“How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is,” as Lear would say to curse Gonerill.
“Kind Lear”, William Shakespeare