King Lear Lesson Plans

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AP Seminar
Lesson Plans
King Lear
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Act I, Scenes I Group1 questions-ii
 Read Act I, Scene i
 What is the nature of the conversation between Gloucester and Kent?
 What is Gloucester’s tone?
 What is ironic about this scene?
 Why does Lear call everyone together?
 Act I, Scene i, Lines 136-176
 What metaphor does Lear use? What does it suggest?
 How does Kent respond?
 What might Lear’s tragic flaw be? What errors in judgment does it cause?
 Read Cordelia’s monologue to her sisters (I.i.263-270): What literary/poetic
devices are being used? How are they used to establish tone and express theme?
 Edmund’s soliloquy (I.ii.1-22)
 What is Edmund’s argument? How is diction used to establish tone and express
theme?
 What is Edmund’s plan?
 How are Edmund and Edgar set up as foils?
Act I scene ii group2: Edmund and Cassius
Cassius from Julius Caesar
(I. ii. 95-101, 136-142)
I cannot tell what you and other men
Think of this life, but, for my single self,
I had as lief not be as live to be
In awe of such a thing as I myself.
I was born free as Caesar. So were you.
We both have fed as well, and we can both
Endure the winter’s cold as well as he.
Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.
Men at some time are masters of their fates.
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Cassius from Julius Caesar
(I. iii. 46-53)
Those that have known the earth so full of faults.
For my part, I have walked about the streets,
Submitting me unto the perilous night,
And, thus unbracèd, Casca, as you see,
Have bared my bosom to the thunder-stone.
And when the cross blue lightning seemed to open
The breast of heaven, I did present myself
Even in the aim and very flash of it.
Read Edmund’s soliloquy (I.ii.100-112): What are
his views regarding fate and freewill? If you recall
Cassius from Julius Caesar, how do their views
compare?
Act I, Scenes iii-v Group3
 Find examples of nature imagery and the essence of human
nature – write out quotes and analyze for effect.
 Discuss how Oswald and Goneril disrespect Lear – analyze
importance.
 Discuss Cordelia and Edmunds as foils
 The Fool – analyze use as an archetype
Fortune’s Wheel
 What does Kent mean at the end of
Act II, Scene ii when he refers to
“fortune’s wheel”: “Fortune, good
night. Smile once more; turn thy
wheel” (II.ii.188)
 Who might be the controlling figure,
the one who turns the wheel?
 What does the concept of a “wheel of
fortune” suggest about the nature of
human life?
 What is Edmund trying to do to the
“wheel of fortune”? For what is Kent
wishing in the closing lines of Act II,
Scene ii, which are written above?
Act II
 How do the family problems between Lear and Gloucester
parallel each other?
 In what ways to the characters in each family act as foils?
 How does the use of foils advance the theme(s)?
Act III, Scenes i-ii group1
 What do the following lines suggest about the Fool’s role: “None
but the Fool, who labors to outjest/His heart-struck injuries”
(III.i.19-20)?
 Read Kent’s monologue (III.i.21-46). What does Kent reveal about
Albany and Cornwall? What does he reveal about France?
 Read Kent’s monologue (III.i.48-56). What does Kent send to
Cordelia? Why? What is Kent planning to do?
 III.ii.1-27). What might Shakespeare be suggesting about human
nature in these lines?
Act III, Scenes ii group2
 Read the Fool’s lines (III.ii.29-38). What is his suggesting?
How do his observations relate to Lear’s situation?
 Read the Fool’s lines (III.ii.86-103). What is the Fool’s
prophecy?
 What does Gloucester think about the treatment of Lear by
Cornwall, Regan, and Goneril? What information does
Gloucester share with Edmund in Scene iii? What is Edmund
going to do?
Act III Scene ii Group3
Act III, Scene ii, Lines 12-13, 17-20
“O nuncle, court holy water in a dry house is better
than this rain water out o’door.”
 What is the Fool saying?
“Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire are
my daughters,
I tax not you, you elements, with
unkindness.
I never gave you kingdom, called
you children;
You owe me no subscription.”
 What is Lear saying? What do these lines suggest
about Lear’s values?
Act III, Scene ii, Lines 86-102
I’ll speak a prophecy ere I go:
When priests are more in word than matter,
When brewers mar their malt with water,
When nobles are their tailors' tutors,
No heretics burned but wenches' suitors,
When every case in law is right,
No squire in debt nor no poor knight,
When slanders do not live in tongues,
Nor cutpurses come not to throngs,
When usurers tell their gold i' th' field,
And bawds and whores do churches build—
Then shall the realm of Albion
Come to great confusion.
Then comes the time, who lives to see ’t,
That going shall be used with feet.
This prophecy Merlin shall make, for I live
before his time.
What two worlds are being compared? Where do shifts
occur? What will bring Albion (England) “to great
confusion”? What does this mean? What might this
speech foreshadow? Does the Fool think he is going to
live to see it?
Act III, Scenes iv-vii group4
 What does Kent mean when he says: “The tyranny of the
open night’s too rough/For nature to endure” (III.iv.2-3)?
Consider the use of the words tyranny and nature.
 What do Cornwall and Edmund discuss in Scene v? How
does the conversation reflect Edmund’s Machiavellian
personality?
 What is the effect of the mock trial (III.vi.37-90)? What does
it suggest about Lear’s status and his state of mind?
 Read Edgar’s lines (III.vi.111-126). What is he suggesting
about suffering? What does he realize?
Class Writing: Acts I-III
Find quotes and discuss importance
 Apostrophe:
 Ellipsis
 Fate vs. Freewill:
 Nature Imagery—In addition to direct references to “nature” and what is
“natural” and “unnatural,” identify references to the following:
 Animals
 Eclipses
 Nakedness
 Storms
King Lear, Act IV, Scenes i-iii Group1
Procedure
1. Read and discuss Edgar’s monologue (IV.i.1-12). What is he
suggesting about human nature and life?
2. Read and discuss the dialogue between Gloucester, the old man, and
Edgar (IV.i.19-42). What is the anagnorisis?
3. Discuss the following question: Why does Gloucester want to go to
Dover? (IV.i.80-90) (p. 177)
4. Read and discuss Act IV, Scene ii, Lines 1-83 (pp.177-183). Roles
required are Goneril, Edmund, Oswald, Albany. What do these lines
reveal about Goneril and Albany?
Compare Goneril’s conversation with Edmund and Albany (IV.ii.1-83) to Lady Macbeth’s
Monologue (I.v.39-51) and Lady Macbeth’s conversation with Macbeth (I.vii.31-82).
Consider what both Goneril and Lady Macbeth are suggesting about sex roles, human
nature, and treachery.
The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it! Come to my woman's breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature's mischief!
MACBETH
We will proceed no further in this business:
He hath honour'd me of late; and I have bought
Golden opinions from all sorts of people,
Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,
Not cast aside so soon.
LADY MACBETH
Was the hope drunk
Wherein you dress'd yourself? hath it slept since?
And wakes it now, to look so green and pale
At what it did so freely? From this time
Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valour
As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would,'
Like the poor cat i' the adage?
MACBETH
MACBETH
If we should fail?
LADY MACBETH
We fail!
But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
And we'll not fail. When Duncan is asleep-Whereto the rather shall his day's hard journey
Soundly invite him--his two chamberlains
Will I with wine and wassail so convince
That memory, the warder of the brain,
Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason
A limbeck only: when in swinish sleep
Their drenched natures lie as in a death,
What cannot you and I perform upon
The unguarded Duncan? what not put upon
His spongy officers, who shall bear the guilt
Of our great quell?
MACBETH
Prithee, peace:
I dare do all that may become a man;
Who dares do more is none.
Bring forth men-children only;
For thy undaunted mettle should compose
Nothing but males. Will it not be received,
When we have mark'd with blood those sleepy two
Of his own chamber and used their very daggers,
That they have done't?
LADY MACBETH
LADY MACBETH
What beast was't, then,
That made you break this enterprise to me?
When you durst do it, then you were a man;
And, to be more than what you were, you would
Be so much more the man. Nor time nor place
Did then adhere, and yet you would make both:
They have made themselves, and that their fitness now
Does unmake you. I have given suck, and know
How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums,
And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this.
Who dares receive it other,
As we shall make our griefs and clamour roar
Upon his death?
MACBETH
I am settled, and bend up
Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.
Away, and mock the time with fairest show:
False face must hide what the false heart doth know.
Act IV scene i-iii Group2 : Read the passages from Macbeth. How do Goneril and Lady
Macbeth compare? Cite textual evidence to support your claims. Share your response with a
partner.
King Lear, Act IV, Scenes i-iii Group3
Procedure
1. What news does the messenger bring at the conclusion of Act IV, Scene ii?
How does Albany react to the news? What appears to be Albany’s position
regarding Gloucester and Lear? Cite textual evidence to substantiate your
claims.
2. In Act IV, Scene iii, what do we learn about Cordelia? How has she reacted
to the news of her father’s condition? What does this suggest about her?
Cite textual evidence to substantiate your claims.
3. What does Kent believe “governs our conditions” (IV.iii.39) (p.187)? Why
does he feel this way? How do these views compare to Edmund’s
(I.ii.125-140) (p. 37)? How is Shakespeare characterizing Kent and
Edmund?
4. Read Kent’s monologue (IV.iii.51-57) (p.189). What does Kent reveal
about Lear? What does this suggest about Lear?
5. Based on Act IV, Scene iii, do you think Cordelia will forgive and reconcile
with her father? Cite textual evidence to substantiate your claims.
King Lear, Act IV, Scenes iv-v group4
Procedure: Discuss the following questions.
1. In Act IV, Scene iv, what service does Cordelia request? What does
she offer for this service? What does this suggest about her?
2. According to Cordelia, why has she and the French forces come to
Dover? What is their purpose? What does this suggest about her?
3. What message does Regan ask Oswald to deliver to Goneril? What
does she say regarding Gloucester? What do these actions suggest
about her?
4. Why do you suppose Shakespeare chose to juxtapose these two
scenes? Explain.
King Lear, Act IV, Scenes vi-vii group5
Procedure: Discuss the following questions.
1. Why has Gloucester travelled to the cliffs of Dover? What does he want to do,
and why does he want to do it? What does this suggest about his character?
Explain. Cite evidence from the text to substantiate your claims.
2. How does Edgar trick Gloucester? Why does Gloucester believe him? Explain.
Cite evidence from the text to substantiate your claims.
3. Think-Pair-Share—Edgar says of Lear: “O, matter and impertinency
mixed,/Reason in madness (IV.vi.192-193) (p. 207). What is the “reason in
madness” that Lear expresses? Cite at least three specific examples of Lear’s
“reason in madness” from Act IV, Scenes vi-vii, and explain how each example
illustrates “reason in madness”?
4. How does Lear’s comment, “A man may see how this world goes with no eyes.
Look with thine ears. See how yond justice rails upon yond simple thief ”
(IV.vi.165-167, p. 205), compare to Steinbeck’s The Grapes ofWrath? What do
both suggest about justice, or the façade of justice?
5. Why does Lear run away (IV.vi.220-225) (p. 209)? What does this action
suggest about his character?
6. Edgar kills Oswald and intercepts a letter from Goneril to Edmund. What
does this letter reveal (IV.vi.290-300) (p. 215)?
King Lear, Act IV, Scenes vi-vii group6
Procedure: Discuss the following questions.
1.
Read Cordelia and Kent’s dialogue (IV.vii.1-4) (p. 215) and Cordelia’s monologue
(IV.vii.35-48) (p. 219). What do these lines reveal about character?
2.
(IV.vii.50-85) (pp. 219-221). What is Lear’s initial reaction upon seeing Cordelia? Why
does Lear think Cordelia hates him? How does Cordelia respond? What does her
response suggest about her character? Regarding the interpretations that we just
heard, which delivery would you use if you were directing this play? Why?
3.
Read the final lines of the scene (IV.vii.111-112) (p. 223). What poetic device is being
used? What is Kent foreshadowing?
King Lear Act V
Procedure:
• Group 1 - Read the following lines spoken by Edmund:
o V.i.63-77, pp. 231-233
o V.iii.32-45, p. 237
• What is Edmund planning to do? How do these plans reveal his Machiavellian
character?
• Group 2 - Read the following lines spoken by Edmund:
o V.iii.195-198, p. 247
o V.iii.236-238, p. 251
o V.iii.287-295, pp. 253-255
• Do you think Edmund shows any remorse, or does he play the Machiavellian role
to the very end?
• Group 3 - Listen to Lear’s final lines. How would your characterize Lear at this
point? By the way, who is the “fool” to whom Lear refers?
• Group 4 - Listen to the final lines spoken by Kent and Edgar (V.iii.390-395, p.
261). What poetic form do they take? What do they reveal about their character?
King Lear Act V
Summation Questions – Class Discussion
 Should we allow “the stars above us to govern our conditions,” as
stated by Kent (IV.iii.39, p. 187), or should we “govern our
conditions” ourselves?
 Which characters allow the stars to govern their conditions?
Which characters govern their conditions themselves? What is the
outcome for each character?
 What might Shakespeare be suggesting about fate vs. freewill,
human nature, and justice?
Words of Wisdom Post-reading Writing Activity for King Lear
Objectives:
1. Compare King Lear to famous quotes.
2. Substantiate claims/defend interpretations
with direct references from the text of the
play.
Procedure:
1. Consider how King Lear supports or refutes
your assigned quote.
2. Select at least three direct references to
substantiate your claims and defend your
interpretation.
3. With your number partner, write an essay
that clearly illustrates how King Lear
supports or refutes your assigned quote.
The essay must include at least three direct
references from the text of the play to
substantiate your claims/defend your
interpretations.
 Ones: “When pride is highest,






catastrophe is nearest” (Welsh proverb).
Twos: “Today a king, tomorrow nothing”
(French Proverb).
Threes: “Every man is the architect of
his own fortune” (German proverb).
Fours: “Man is the measure of all things”
(Protagoras, Greek philosopher, 490420 BC).
Fives: “There are none so blind as they
who willfully shut their eyes” (Arabian
proverb).
Sixes: “Govern your passions, otherwise
they will govern you” (Horace, Roman
poet, 65-27 BC).
Sevens: “Only the shallow know
themselves” (Oscar Wilde; Irish poet,
playwright, and novelist; 1854-1900).
Words of Wisdom Post-reading Activity for King Lear
 “When pride is highest, catastrophe is nearest” (Welsh proverb).
 “Evil deeds never prosper” (Homer).
 “Today a king, tomorrow nothing” (French Proverb).
 “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus).
 “Every man is the architect of his own fortune” (German




proverb).
“Man is the measure of all things” (Protagoras, Greek
philosopher, 490-420 BC).
“There are none so blind as they who willfully shut their eyes”
(Arabian proverb).
“Govern your passions, otherwise they will govern you”
(Horace, Roman poet, 65-27 BC).
“Only the shallow know themselves” (Oscar Wilde; Irish poet,
playwright, and novelist; 1854-1900).

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