King Lear • Shakespeare fashioned it out of actual legend (King Leir of Britain, mythological, pre-Roman Celtic King) • Division of the Kingdom between three daughters:, Goneril married to Duke of Albany, Regan married to Duke of Cornwall, and Cordelia who is being wooed by Burgundy and France. • Goneril and Regan suck up to their father, telling him how much they love him, but doing asides to show us that they are lying. Each gets 1/3 of the kingdom.
Cordelia refuses to suck upInstead, she is honest (bottom of 1145-46)Cordelia is given nothing.Burgundy loves her and marries her anyway.
Meanwhile, Gloucester has two sons, Edgar and the bastard Edmund • Edmund pretends to read a paper from Edgar urging him to conspire to get rid of Gloucester. Gloucester therefore disinherits his beloved son, Edgar, who goes out on the moors and strips naked and acts crazy.
King Lear becomes homeless: scene with Kim, Steven, and Priscilla • First, he and his Fool stay with Goneril but they get mad at how they are treated and leave and go to Regan’s castle • Then, Regan won’t have them either, so they are homeless out on the moors
After the scene • The storm itself is sort of an objective correlative – how? • Is King Lear “a man more sinned against than sinning”? • Then, because of his sympathy for Lear, Regan has Gloucester’s eyes ripped out. Meaning? • Now last scene: Grace and Nevin • How do you think King Lear ends? • Lear’s last lines: • And my poor fool is hanged! No, no, no life! • Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, • And thou no breath at all? Thou’lt come no more, • Never, never, never, never, never!
Metaphysical poetry • Their style was characterized by wit and metaphysical conceits—far-fetched or unusual similes or metaphors. Johnson said: "...a kind of discordia concours; a combination of dissimilar images, or discovery of occult resemblances in things apparently unlike." [ • few references to nature or to Greek or Roman mythology • Metaphysical Poetry- a type of poetry that stresses the intellectual over the emotional; it is marked by irony, paradox, and striking comparisons of dissimilar things, the latter frequently being far-fetched to the point of eccentricity. (“Metaphysical Poetry”)
Weirdness of John Donne • Very, very Catholic which was illegal. Because he couldn’t take the Oath of Supremacy, he couldn’t graduate from Oxford or Cambridge. • His brother died in prison, after torture, because of his Catholic faith. Ironically, this led Donne to question his own Catholic faith. • Loved women, literature, travel and spent most of his money
A paradoxical life • Married the niece of his patron, Anne More. Because of that he was put into prison and lost all sources of support. They had 12 kids, many of whom died. • Became a Member of Parliament • Rose high in the Anglican (anti-Catholic) Church and became Dean of St. Paul’s so his over 160 sermons are part of his great work • He preached his own funeral sermon before he died. • Before he died, he looked so skeletal that everybody thought he was just animated bones. He had his portrait done while he was in his burial shroud and kept that portrait by his bed and looked at his every night – the image of himself as a dead body. • None of his poetry was published until two years after his death!!
Where do we see Donne now? • Metallica – “For Whom the Bell Tolls” • Jethro Tull • Lost in Austen • Indie Rock mewithoutYou • Jefferson Airplane • For Whom the Bell Tolls - Hemingway • Howl’s Moving Castle– “Go and Catch a Falling Star”
As you read • Read two or three of the poems out loud and LISTEN. If possible read them to somebody else. • Who is speaking? To whom? Where? • Paraphrase the lines • Explain what is interesting (or not) about the rhymes. • For John Donne, everything has double meanings. Figure out the sex meaning, the religious meaning, the “real world” meaning – and see how they overlap.
Treat the poem like a puzzle • Don’t worry about rhyme and meter. Instead, try to figure out the sentences and the extended metaphors (conceits). • If you can’t figure out the metaphors, focus on the images: How do the pictures the poet develops in your mind contribute to the meaning of the poem?
An Hymn to God the Father • Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun,Which was my sin, though it were done before?Wilt thou forgive that sin through which I run, And do run still, though still I do deplore?When thou hast done, thou hast not done,For I have more.Wilt thou forgive that sin, which I have wonOthers to sin, and made my sin their door?Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shunA year or two; – but wallowed in a score?When thou hast done, thou hast not done,For I have more.I have a sin of fear, that when I’ve spunMy last thread, I shall perish on the shore;But swear by thyself, that at my death thy SonShall shine as be shines now, and heretofore;And having done that, thou hast done,I fear no more.