King Lear: Extended Speeches

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An Old Man
In William Shakespeare's play King Lear, three of Lear's extended speeches relate
to the play as a whole and are significant in revealing his character. In Lear's extended
speech beginning with "Peace Kent," (I, i, 123) Lear rages over Cordelia's lack of servility
towards him. Later, Lear denounces both of his evil daughters, Goneril and Regan, in an
extended speech beginning with "O reason not the need." (II, iv, 263) Finally, in act 4,
scene 6, Lear defends adultery and condemns the evil that surrounds him in an extended
In act 1, scene 1, Lear's extended speech relates to the play as a whole and is
significant in revealing his character. After Lear asks Cordelia to show her devotion for
him in exchange for an "ample third of [his] fair kingdom," (I, i, 82) Lear rages over
Cordelia's lack of servility in her answers towards him. He views Cordelia as a
"barbarous Scythian" (I, i, 118) for failing to show him the proper respect. Lear
completely rejects her as his daughter and refuses to help Cordelia find a husband,
"[letting] pride" (I, i, 131) be her dowry. Lear disrupts the law of nature when he rejects
Cordelia's love "according to [her] bond,"(I, i, 95) and ultimately dies as the result of this
inept test of love. Later in the play, Lear gets "heart-struck injuries" (III, i, 17) after his
two evil daughters abandon him in his old age. He realizes that he made a huge mistake in
declaring Regan and Goneril the beneficiaries of his kingdom. The entire play focuses on
Lear's folly; he foolishly rejects Cordelia's "honored love" (V, i, 8) for the fraudulent
affection of Goneril and Regan. Lear is a foolish and senseless man whose folly causes the
loss of countless lives.
Furthermore, in act 2, scene 4, Lear's extended speech relates to the play as a
whole and is significant in revealing his character. Lear denounces his evil daughters after
they strip him of his servants. Disgraced and outraged at what the evil daughters did, Lear
believes that the only thing that separates man from the beast is "more than nature needs."
(II, iv, 265) Addressing the gods as a "poor old man" (II, iv, 271) praying for patience,
Lear seeks "noble anger" (II, iv, 275) as a resource to fight against the villainous plot the
two evil daughters bring before him. Lear denounces both daughters as "unnatural hags"
(II, iv, 277) and declares revenge upon them that will be "terrors of the earth." (II, iv,
281) Later in the play, Lear's anger comes to fruition when he goes outside into an
impetuous storm with an "endless rage" (III, i, 8) while naked. Lear demonstrates his
stamina and courage through the raging storm, demonstrating his unyielding desire to set
things right and defeat his "dark and vicious" (V, iii, 173) daughters plan. This allows
Lear to take action against his evil daughters and try to undo the damage of his folly.
Finally, in Act 4, scene 6, Lear's extended speech relates to the play as a whole
and is significant in revealing his character. In Lear's extended speech beginning with "Ay
every inch a king," (IV, vi, 109) Lear defends adultery and condemns the evil that
surrounds him. Tricked and manipulated, Lear learns that he is not "ague-proof." (IV, iv,
106) Lear believes that "Gloucester's bastard son / was kinder to his father" (IV,
iv,116-117) than Lear's daughters were to him. Lear's defense of adultery demonstrates
his belief that "copulation [thrives]" along with evil in society. (IV, vi, 116) Throughout
the play, an insane Lear acknowledges his role in the folly. Lear r

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