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By Considering the Dramatic Effects Produced by Action and Language, Evaluate How Shakespeare Presents Lear and the Storm in Act 3 Scene 2.

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By considering the dramatic effects produced by action and language, evaluate how Shakespeare presents Lear and the storm in Act 3 Scene 2.

Lear’s elder daughters have stripped him of his power and status, abandoning him to the dreadful storm. As his mind breaks down, he begins to see reality in a new light and to confront unpleasant truths. The style and structure of Lear’s speeches convey the king’s confused, violent state of mind. Shakespeare presents the audience with a man who is surrounded by anger, and a desire for revenge, but more positively, humility and a recognition of previous mistakes.

Lear’s speeches in the storm, also reflect the movements of the storm. Lear’s opening line, is like a crack of thunder “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow” by using onomatopoeia On the Renaissance stage, the sound of thunder was created by rolling an iron ball on a sheet of metal, however Shakespeare is using Lear’s language to create the effects of the storm for the audience. Lear is the storm, his actions have led to misrule in the kingdom, and nature reflects that chaos.

Shakespeare’s use of nature as a metaphor for the emotional turbulence within Lear, is effectively displayed in the speeches during the storm, “You sulph’rous and thought-executing fires, Vaunt- couriers of oak-cleaving thunderbolts.” Lear is encouraging the storm, to become even more violent and commanding the elements to bring about mass destruction. Lear’s phrase “oak-cleaving thunderbolts” reveals his mad character further showing a loss of royal dignity as he irrationally shouts to the storm due to his anger towards his daughters. The “cleaver” he speaks of, a weapon designed to cut through bone, in this case is used to cut through the strongest three “oak” is used to describe the lightning which Lear demands to destroy all man kind, the storm echoes Lear’s inner turmoil and mounting madness: it is a physical, turbulent natural reflection of Lear’s internal confusion. Since the ancient Greeks and tales of the god Poseidon, weather has been used to convey emotions. Storms are a perfect metaphor for human emotions run amok, and Shakespeare utilized them to the fullest extent.

Lear’s second speech is less explosive, but still full of rage, Lear now recognises that he cannot rule the elements. He says with crazy egotism that they owe him no loyalty. These lines continue the theme of “ingrateful man” and sum up the lunatic King’s version of events so far. Lear’s words convey the self-pity he feels: “here I stand your slave,” and “A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man.” This description might be seen as the accurate self-assessment of a man who is beginning to see himself more clearly. Lear’s reference to himself as a slave is significant, in Act 2 Scene 4 he said he would rather work as Oswald’s slave than return to Goneril. Now he begins to see that he has, indeed is, nothing. His paranoid delusion that the storm is in league with his “pernicious daughter,” seems to confirm his arrogant vulnerability.

The Fool’s vulnerability also heightens and reflects Lear’s. He shows the audience an attractive side of Lear’s character. The King now finds time to feel for another, “Come on my boy. How dost, my boy? Art cold?... Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart, That’s sorry for thee.” Lear is attempting to exercise his compassion towards others, which consequently pulls him back to rational behaviour which wasn’t present at the start of the scene. Lear is sane when he is still capable of empathy, and sympathy. Consequently, the storm embodies the awesome power of nature, which forces the powerless king to recognize his own mortality and human frailty and to cultivate a sense of humility for the first time.

The scene is significant for several reasons. Lear’s speeches establish and reflect the properties of the storm. They are full of anger and distress, as he moves swiftly from one topic to another, the violence of the imagery Lear employs reflects his state of mind. Lear’s isolation is shown by his lack of interaction with the other characters on stage, which also indicate that he is now engaged in an internal struggle, Lear is preoccupied by thoughts about filial ingratitude, he is battling to preserve his wits. Therefore, the storm serves as a metaphor for Lear’s and Britain’s plight. Suffering has made the king start to consider issues he took too little care of as ruler, his journey towards greater understanding of himself and the world around him has begun. By using dramatic effects, and language, Shakespeare puts forward to the audience a dramatic storm scene, like Trevor Nunn’s 1976 production, with a man who is beginning his transition into madness.

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