Oswald Character Analysis

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  • Created by: bethg
  • Created on: 20-05-16 20:48
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  • Oswald Character Analysis
    • Key Quotes
      • “This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spar'd At suit of his grey beard-”
        • Act 2, scene 2
          • Oswald’s over-exaggeration of Kent’s age demonstrates the binary opposition of young versus the old throughout the play
        • Dramatisation of the encounter also connotes Oswald's weakness due to his low status
          • Reliant on Goneril for protection, hence his loyalty.
      • “That eyeless head of thine was first framed flesh To raise my fortunes.”
        • Act 4, scene 6
        • The alliteration of ‘f’ creates a very harsh tone, mirroring that of expletives in order to show his aggression towards Gloucester who disobeys Goneril, his mistress.
      • “I may not, madam. My lady charged my duty in this business.”
        • Act 4, scene 5
        • Unquestioning obedience and loyalty to Goneril as connoted by his use of the modal verb ‘must’ to express his certainty
      • “And give the letters which thou find’st about me To Edmund, Earl of Gloucester.”
        • Act 4, scene 6
        • The pronoun ‘thou’ was commonly used to address a person of inferior status
          • Shakespeare uses dramatic irony here as the servant Oswald speaks less of mad Tom, Little does he know that he’s addressing Edgar, Edmund’s brother, and the real, though blind, Duke of Gloucester
        • Oswald's sense of obedience is so great that he even asks the man who has killed him to deliver Goneril's letter to Edmund
      • “What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him; what like, offensive.”
        • The use of the superlative ‘most’ highlights the corruption within the kingdom due to the desire for power
          • good news or success is seen as distressing to those attempting to gain power.
      • “My lady’s father.”
        • Act 1, scene 4
          • Oswald follows Goneril’s instruction to ignore the king
            • By referring to Lear as simply her father undermines whatever authority he had left as even servants are rebelling against him
    • Relationships with other characters
      • Goneril
        • Her steward or chief servant
          • Obeys only her commands
            • Helps her conspiracies throughout the play
            • Absolute loyalty to her
      • Lear
        • Oswald is  rude to the king as he follows Goneril's strict instructions
          • Lear strikes him after Oswald challenges him power
      • Kent
        • Both signifiers of loyalty
        • Upon witnessing his rudeness to Lear, Kent attacks him whilst in disguise
          • Kent is put into the stocks because of this
      • Regan
        • Delivers letters to either sisters on Goneril's behalf
          • She attempts to trap Oswald and to turn him against Goneril
            • Oswald's sense of loyalty is far too great to deceive his mistress
      • Gloucester
        • Oswald attempts to kill him
          • Oswald is killed before he can complete his task
      • Edgar
        • Oswald intercepts Edgar/Mad Tom and Gloucester
          • After attempting to kill his father, Edgar kills Oswald instead
            • Oswald asks the pair to deliver his final letter
    • Oswald's Apperances
      • Act 1
        • Scene 3
          • Goneril and her servant Oswald plan to deal severely with King Lear and his knights, who she complains have grown riotous
        • Scene 4
          • Oswald enters and is rude to Lear who strikes him. Kent trips Oswald, who is then sent away.
            • Goneril despatches Oswald to take a message to her sister Regan to warn her of Lear's imminent arrival.
      • Act 2
        • Scene 2
          • Oswald, bringing Goneril's message to Regan, is attacked by Kent
            • Cornwall condemns Kent for abusing Goneril's servant and puts him in the stocks.
      • Act 3
        • Scene 7
          • Goneril suggests they pluck out Gloucester's eyes and then departs with Edmund and Oswald.
      • Act 4
        • Scene 5
          • Regan detains Oswald to prevent him carrying a letter from Goneril to Edmund
            • She implores Oswald to unseal the letter, but her refuses, despite her claims that Edmund is more suited to her than to her sister
        • Scene 6
          • Hearing that Cordelia is near, Edgar leads his father Gloucester away from the battleground. Oswald intercepts them
            • He is about to kill Gloucester when Edgar intervenes, killing Oswald
              • Edgar finds a letter on Oswald from Goneril to Edmund, vowing to make Edmund her husband if he kills Albany.

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