King Lear’s Speech

Shakespeare introduces Lear in such a way that inclines us to believe that he craves attention, socialisation and respect or authority.

Shakespeare’s first line to Lear is a brash command toward Gloucester to ‘attend’ the other ‘lords’. This suggests to the audience that he is a very authoritative man.

During the speech, Shakespeare presents Lear discussing a ‘darker purpose’ while using ceremonial language – using ‘we’ and ‘our’. This may suggest Lear’s dependency on his court – he may not see himself as an individual but rather he prefers to be surrounded by his loving attendants. This certainly suggests that he may be self-absorbed as he only encircles himself with people he know must be loyal to him and listen to his every word.

As Shakespeare continue to explain that the kingdom has been ‘divided’, and that because Lear is getting old it is his ‘intent’ to ‘shake all cares’. In doing so, he gives his kingdom away confidently to the ‘younger’ people. Shakespeare uses the word ‘unburdened’ to refer to Lear as he retires – suggesting that his rank is a burden to him, which we have only known to be false as Shakespeare presents Lear as a man who commands his subjects without being grateful.

Shakespeare begins to emphasise Lear’s arrogance as he asks his daughters to ‘tell’ him who loves him ‘most’. Lear knows that this will cause his daughters to stroke his arrogance even more – which he is clearly satisfied by as he concludes with ‘where nature doth with merit challenge’, claiming that the more they claim their love the more land they get.

This speech alone contrasts greatly with Lear’s future character and behaviour – this speech is in order to highlight his inevitable downfall during the play.

King Lear’s Speech

King Lear Movie Notes

  • Goneril and Raegan profess their love to King Lear – who is about to split hi land between his three daughters.
  • Each daughter receives land ,and ultimately power, except for Cornelia as she wants nothing from him because she has already received enough from him.
  • Lear is not impressed by this, Kent tries to talk sense to him however Lear doesn’t listen.
  • Lear says Cordelia’s ‘price’ has lowered and gives her away to the King of France.


  • Edmund wants to get rid of Edgar in order to inherit his father’s (Gloucester) wealth – this is due to Edmund be an illegitimate son.
  • Edmund tells Edgar to leave because their father is angry with him.
  • Edmund gives Gloucester a letter showing Edgar’s ‘plans’ to kill his father in order to receive his inheritance.
  • A search party is sent out in order to kill Edgar, who runs away for his own safety.


  • Goneril tells her servants to ignore her father as she complains about him.
  • Kent overhears this conversation.
  • Kent shows his loyalty to Lear by tripping up Oswald – who Lear slapped.
  • Lear leaves to go to Raegan’s
  • Goneril says that Raegan will not accept him and his hundred knights.


King Lear Movie Notes

The Elizabethan Church and Catholics

In 1559, the Religious Settlement – after the coronation of Queen Elizabeth –  essentially caused Catholicism to be illegal. Those who arranged to say mass or participated in mass were sentenced to a death penalty as punishment.

However, the Protestant Queen made no attempt to seek Catholics as long a they behaved themselves and were loyal. She even tried to accommodate the Catholic faith.

After the Catholic threat against Elizabeth from Europe began to dramatically heighten, the government took harsher precautions against the Catholics. One of Elizabeth’s ministers, were very committed to the Protestant cause and wish to persecute the Catholics in England and Wales.

Until 1570, Catholics suffered very little, however the new Pope – Pius V – did not like Queen Elizabeth. Most Catholics and the Pope believed she was illegitimate, and thus had no right to the throne. They also believed that the true heir to the throne was Mary Queen of Scots.

Pius V issued a bull ‘Regnans in Excelsis’ against Elizabeth. This excommunication caused her to be restricted of her rights with the Catholic Church. The Pope also absolved all her subjects from allegiance to her and her laws. This was not approved by many English and Welsh Catholics, as they knew they would face her wrath – an excommunicated person was a disgrace in the Catholic Church, as they were believed to go to hell.

This caused a lot of inner-conflict for Elizabeth’s Catholic royal subjects, as they were torn between two things they swore loyalty to – their Queen and their faith. Most Catholics ignored the conflict and separated their religious life with their secular life. However, Catholics were seen as a great threat to the Queen from that moment on.

1570’s onward, many Catholics were executed from treason as they were asked ‘The Bloody Question’ – ‘Pope or Queen?’.

In 1581 and Act was passed that made it treason to withdraw English subjects from allegiance to the Queen or her Church, and fines for refusing to go to church were increased to twenty pounds – which was a very large amount in the Elizabethan times. The government genuinely believed that the Catholics were a serious threat to the Queens life and reign.

The literature produced by the leaders of the ‘English Mission’, which was an active campaign to restore Catholicism to England and Wales and depose Elizabeth, seems to confirmed the governments suspicions.


The Elizabethan Church and Catholics

Modernist view of how letters and interviews are used in The Help & The Color Purple

Both novels present how important communication is. However the difference is the form of communication.

In her epistolary novel, Walker addresses every letter to ‘God’ – showing how important these letters are to Celie, they are an outlet of her emotions. In the beginning of ‘The Color Purple’, Celie lacks confidence and so she thinks her opinion doesn’t matter – her father says women are ‘only good’ for one thing, sex.

Walker also uses private letters between Celie and Nettie in order for them to contact each over. The letters Mr hides from Celie symbolise Mr starving Celie and Nettie’s relationship and sisterhood – Mr never lets Celie ‘hear from’ Nettie.

However, Stockett uses interviews for communication, which is a more public than a letter.

Walker and Stockett’s writing uses fragmented and discontinuous narratives, which are used regularly in modernist texts. Walker is conscious of Celie’s writing, it develops throughout the novel. At the beginning, Walker uses childish vocabulary and spells words the way they are pronounced – ‘kine’. By the end of the novel, Walker writes in a style that is fluent and uses a larger vocabulary. Walker may be using Celie’s writing as a reflection of Celie at that time.

Modernist view of how letters and interviews are used in The Help & The Color Purple

The Colour Purple by Alice Walker Information

Born in America 1944, Alice Walker is a novelist who wrote ‘The Colour Purple’ in 1982. Walker is also married to a civil rights lawyer.

‘The Colour Purple’ takes place mostly in rural Georgia and addresses numerous issues to do with the main character, an African-American woman, in 1930’s America. Issues include the low position African-Americans had in Southern American social culture.
Historical events around 1930’s:

• 1929: Stock market crashes ending the uneven distribution of wealth within America. The government offered not insurance or compensation for the unemployed and so the consumer economy halted. This is commonly known as the start of the Great Depression.

• 1932: The population are not pleased with the current president as he argued that patience and self-reliance was all the Americans needed in order to get them through this “passing incident in our national lives.”

• 1933: Most banks have shut down taking 2.5 million dollars with them while most citizens are unemployed and doing small jobs in order to get by. A new president is elected, Roosevelt. He proposes a ‘New Deal’ in order to stop the economic downward spiral. The president passed multiple major laws that changed the fundamental aspects of the American economy.

• 1939: World War 2 began which stimulated the war effort in the U.S. years later and effectively ended the Great Depression.

In order to escape these difficult times, many Americans listened to the radio – particularly comedy, soap opera and sport broadcasts. Swing music was very popular and many people went to dance halls to relax. And despite the shortage of money, people went to the cinema to see comedy or gangster films as well as musicals.

In ‘The Colour Purple’, there is use of first person in the narrative voice which gives us the sense of first-hand experience but can also lead to bias opinions and thoughts.

The 80’s, when ‘The Colour Purple’ was written, was a time of patriotism for America. People started to challenge old-fashioned ideas more often.

Themes in ‘The Colour Purple’:
• Sexism
• Racism
• Discrimination
• Disruptions of traditional gender roles
• Sisterhood
• Fallacy of the American Dream
• Colonialism
• Family
• Hero-status
• Homes
• Marriage
• Gender
• Women & Work
• Love
• Sexuality
• Self-awareness
• Self-esteem

The Colour Purple by Alice Walker Information

How does Heaney use animals in ‘Fieldwork’?

In ‘Fieldwork’ we find many poems that focus on the emotions associated with mourning, war conflict or artistic conflict. However, ‘The Otter’ and ‘The Skunk’ are an anomaly to this as they are a pair of distinctively romantic poems.

Heaney describes a woman – ‘when you plunged’ – who may assume to be his wife, by using an extended metaphor in ‘The Otter’. In ‘The Skunk’ Sheers uses the conceit again in order to describe his wife -‘the skunk’s tail’. The difference in animals may suggest Heaney’s development in his relationship with his wife as his tone changes from admiring  – ‘I loved’ – to abject love – ‘ordinary’.

Both poems are similar in their form, Heaney uses quatrain stanzas in the freeverse. Heaney may have decided to use this in order to show that love has no particular rules, similar to form itself. This is emphasised by the lack of meter or rhyme.

In ‘The Otter’, Heaney is reflecting on a memory of his wife. He uses ‘you’ to refer to her as she disturbs the reflection of ‘Tuscany’, a renaissance region in Italy, in the water – ‘wavered’.

Heaney uses the verb ‘smashing’ to describe her ‘crawl’ in the water, this creates vivid imagery of her swimming as ‘smashing’ has powerful connotations and can imply that the movement of her arms. Or as an ambiguous reading, the ‘smashing’ could refer to the sound that she is making when hitting the water.

Using the past tense, Heaney describes himself at that time as sitting ‘on the warm stones’, which may be a symbol for his life at that point – he is watching her from afar and there is a border between them, which is suggested by the use continuous of ‘you’ and ‘I’. However, Heaney suggests that they finally come together as he has ‘hold’ of her by using ‘we’, creating a focus on them as a couple rather than individuals. Heaney uses a metaphor as he describes his ‘two hands’ as ‘plumbed water’, suggesting that he deeply invested in his wife and their relationship – ‘The Otter’.

This story develops more in the immediate next poem in the anthology ‘The Skunk’. Although not a flattering comparison, the suggestion is that Heaney loves his wife nevertheless. Heaney shows the admiration that he had toward his wife in the previous poem by creating imagery of the back in both poems – ‘fine swimmer back’ in ‘The Otter’ and ‘the skunk’s tail’ in ‘The skunk’.

However feelings of yearning take over Heaney as he misses his wife, and he drinks ‘mouthfuls of wine’ which connects to the ‘grape’s and Italy in ‘The Otter’.

(Sorry for the quality of this blog, if needed I will re-do it but I’m feeling quite ill right now so I’m gonna to end the blog here – sorry)

How does Heaney use animals in ‘Fieldwork’?

Bloody Sunday (Bogside Massacre)

30th of January 1972, the Bogside Massacre took place in the Bogside of Derry.

British soldiers shot 26 unarmed civilians during a protest march against the imprisonment (without trial) of 342 people suspected to be part of the Irish Republican Army.

14 died in total, 13 shot and died instantly while the remaining person died months after the event due to the injuries they sustained.


Bloody Sunday (Bogside Massacre)