King Lear A03 and A04 OCR A2 English Literature with Critics

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King Lear A03 and A04
Cross Contextual Tragedies
Text Peripeteia Hamartia Anagnorisis
(Catastrophic event)
Othello Iago preys on His jealousy, pride After killing
Othello's character, and gullible nature Desdemona he finally
exploits his learns of her
understanding of innocence and Iago's
honour and treachery
Hamlet Hamlet's hesitance to His overwhelming
kill his stepfather intelligence, although
when he prays alone an Elizabethan
for fear he might go audience may see it
to heaven as his cowardice or
Romeo and Juliet Death of Mercutio Disobedience and Romeo admits killing
Naivety Tybalt and
recognises the
Macbeth Kills King Duncan His ambition Couldn't stop looking
at the blood on his
King Lear Giving away his land Naïve and Blind After being driven out
between his by his daughters and
daughters left out in the storm he
sees the truth
In Act 5 after he
recovers from his
madness and admits
clearly "I am a very
foolish fond old man"
Critical Analysis
Aristotle Poetics
Tragedy must contain characters of a higher type
Plots are either simple (Othello ­ one plot) or Complex (King Lear ­ various sub
plots which reflect and merge)
The tragedy should come about not as a result of vice but of some great flaw
within the hero. However they are often manipulated e.g. Othello, Macbeth

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Nietzsche The Birth of Tragedy 1871
Before Dionysus caused chaos Greek art was naïve and only concerned with the
superficial The appearance of Apollo was to keep peace and shield from the
innate suffering of the world
Agree because Tragedy exposes true human emotion in every day culture,
society looks like Dionysus not the perfection of Apollo's beauty
However aspects of beauty are needed and we're protected to an extent
because tragic hero's are of high status which creates social distance and their
reactions are…read more

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Bottom in Midsummer Night's Dream, The Gravediggers in Hamlet
Jan Kott, "The Fool...rejects all appearances, of law, justice, and moral order.
He sees brute force, cruelty and lust. He has no illusions"
Michael Reist
The Mediaeval and Renaissance eras of British history were two distinct cultural
Shakespeare's King Lear is a play that straddles the social and political
divisions between these times
Kent displays medieval views as he stands unwaveringly beside the rightful king.…read more

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James did not descend into disunity after this initial spat with
Parliament is down to the likes of Robert Cecil who brought a great degree of
administrative skill
King Lear was written during a time of uncertainty.…read more

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Cordelia's death shatters the moralityplay pattern and send King Lear into the
abyss of tragedy
Cordelia is the logical culmination of the misogyny in the play
Edmund killing Cordelia is the epitome of masculinity slaying femininity
"Pelican Daughters"
1.…read more

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Criticised the lack of justice at the end
2. Found Cornelia's death deeply shocking
19th Century Criticism
Some see Cordelia as a Jesus like figure with Christian values redeeming Lear
like Edgar
1. Believed Shakespeare showed "a firm faith in filial piety" (philosophical
ethical system developed by Chinese philosopher which is the virtue of
respect for ones parents)
1. Struck with the dark fatalism, "requital redemption amends are words with
no meaning here"
George Brandes
1.…read more



This amazing!! Thanks so much I really needed this!


Really great, thorough notes - definitely useful for anyone studying King Lear at A Level!

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