Lear’s Speech

When the audience is first introduced to the character of King Lear, he presents them with a powerful, arrogant speech; setting the scene of his character. His speech is written Iambic Pentameter with a scheme of unrhyming which allows it to be read in a poetic style, sort of forcing the reader to take the whole speech in.

Shakespeare’s character uses words such as “darker purpose” when Lear describes his plans to divide his kingdom into three parts between his three daughters; two of them being evil and one not wanting a single share. He refers to his “age” and “crawl toward death” signifying a sort of retirement from his Kingship but keeping the royalty within their family, giving his daughters the ruling of the land.

Lear also uses demanding language: “Give me” to portray his authority over Gloucester and allowing him to give his direction whilst still being King.

Throughout the continuation of the speech the audience is introduced to the more arrogant, self centred tone of Lear’s character as he used words like “doth love us most” which suggests Lear loves attention and the more his daughters claim to love him the more of the share they will gain. However it is evident that the girls only love their Father’s power rather than him.

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Comparison of openings.

  • Darker scenery in Laurence Olivier’s version, 1983.
  • Clothing is more of a Pagan style( Olivier’s)
  • McGee portrays a less arrogant Lear
  • Olivier’s Lear expects people to bow down to him and makes Cordelia kiss the floor before she speaks to him.
  • Lear’s crown is larger and shiny- shows his power more.
  • Olivier’s Lear makes Goneril kiss the map of the Kingdom before speaking- showing his power- all over the Kingdom
  • Olivier’s Lear seems more emotional-  more wounded by Cordelia’s words, and more hurt by Kent’s attempt to council him.


  • Olivier’s version- Lear throws his crown- decision; split land between daughters.
  • Lear is physically unable to pick up his crown alone- dwells upon weakness
  • Cordelia is more emotional (1983) she cries when she leaves
  • Edmund is more harsh on Edgar- plotting against him- spooky music- repeats the word ‘bastard’ proving a point.


  • Lear is more aggressive
  • Goneril more aggressive- bossy- evil


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Some of Act 2

  • Gossip about a possible war- Cornwall and Albany.
  • Edmund and Edgar fight- swords.
  • Glolucester says Edgar will be caught and punished
  • Regan goes to the castle to avoid Lear
  • Edgar–> Poor Tom
  • Covers himself in dirt
  • Lear calls on the gods to help him and is upset that Regan takes Goneril by the hand. – Believes God has turned them against him.
  • He decides to go then with Goneril as she must love him more if she will agree to fifty knights. At this point, Goneril diminishes her claim, asking him if needs twenty-five, ten, or five?
  • Feels like a slave to his daughters
  • ‘Man more sinned against that sinning’
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‘King Lear’ brief notes

  • 800 BC- Pagan times which allows cruelty.
  • Characters are only loyal to the King’s position not to him


  • Goneril and Regan profess their love to King Lear
  • Daughters in competition with eachother- Each daughter receives land ,and ultimately power, except for Cordelia as she wants nothing from him because she has already received enough from him.
  • Gives Cordelia away to the King of France. Burgundy was asked.


  • Edmund wants to get rid of Edgar in order to inherit Gloucester’s wealth  Edmund –> illegitimate son.
  • Edmund gives Gloucester a letter showing Edgar’s attempt to kill his father
  • >receive his inheritance.
  • Sent out in order to kill Edgar, runs away – stays out in the thunder and lightning.


  • Kent shows his loyalty to Lear by tripping up Oswald – who Lear slapped.
  • Lear leaves to go to Regan’s with his ‘troop’
  • Goneril says that Regan will not accept him and his hundred knights.- She will accept 50 knights but Regan will only accept 25.
  • Goneril claims Lear is weak- Lear calls her a ‘disease in {his} blood’
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Queen Elizabeth’s Pastimes

  • The Elizabethan age is celebrated for its literary and dramatic culture, its music and chivalry.
  • The upper class would enjoy playing games and would have great banquets of rich food.
  • Men would participate in sports such as bowls and tennis, whereas the women as well as doing sport would also sew, draw, embroider and play musical instruments.
  • Queen Elizabeth loved to horse ride-> her Councillors were afraid of her injuring herself of worse, killing herself.
  • In 1560, her ministers accused her of neglecting her State as she was more interested in her horse riding.
  • She would hunt deer with her courtiers
  • During the Elizabethan Era, they believed there was no such thing as animal cruelty as they would hurt animals for entertainment and hobbies.
  • Elizabeth loved to play the virginals and the lute.
  • Elizabeth was also an incredibly gifted scholar, and loved learning. She reputedly would often study for two or three hours a day, and was well read in the Classics, as well as having a very extensive knowledge of history.
  • Her skill for languages meant that she could read books in Latin or French, and especially as she grew older, she loved to translate Classic works into English. She also liked to write poetry, and a few of her poems still survive.
  • Elizabeth was also a patron of arts and literature, and loved watching plays, masques, and other dramatic performances. She had her own company of actors, called “The Queen’s Players”, and these would often perform plays for her and her courtiers. Robert Dudley also had his own company, and he would pay them to perform before the Queen.
  • Embroidery was also a popular pastime for women. Mary Queen of Scots was a very gifted embroideress, and Elizabeth too would sometimes spend an evening embroidering with her maids of honour and ladies in waiting.
  • There were also games that the Queen could play on wet days or winter nights, such as backgammon, or chess, or cards. Queen Mary I had been an avid gambler, and it is likely that Elizabeth too enjoyed a wager with her courtiers.
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Feminism in ‘The Help’

‘The Help’ can be interpreted through a feminist point of view as the black women in society are considered less human than the men in society – suggesting  that women are at the mercy of the men, almost indicating they’re less superior to them. This can be seen through the marriage of Minny an Leroy. Words such as ‘smack you’ and ‘wouldn’t know what you’d do’ suggest that Leroy considers his male dominance as acceptable because in his opinion he is keeping his wife ”in line” – women were used to this. This is similar to the marriage of Mr___. and Celie as Celie has been married off to care for Mr___’s children.

Another feminist interpretation can be seen through the character of  Skeeter who seems to be independent as she publishes the black maid’s stories and disagrees with the Jim Crow Laws clearly suggesting she goes against the norms of a white person’s beliefs within a segregated American society. Skeeter can also be shown to be an alternative to marriage unlike her Southern socialite best friends who dropped out of school and are all married off with children- the typical stereotype of her society’s traditions. Likewise within ‘The Color Purple’ the character of Shug Avery is also unmarried.

African-American women depicted in ‘The Help’ had to earn a living as maid in white families participating in the typical jobs for women; cooking, cleaning and becoming wet nurses for their babies. This can be reflected through the characters of Aibileen and and Constantine.

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Form and Structure

Both novels ‘The Help’ by Kathryn Stockett and ‘The Color Purple’ by Alice Walker are similar in their form and structure as they both use flashbacks to convey the horrific society of America during the 1930’s and the 1960’s where racism and the segregation of African-American’s seemed to be the norm.

‘The Color Purple’ is an epistolary novel however this novel is not in a chronological order as Mr___.  hid the letters written by Nettie to her sister Celie throughout the years of her new life in Africa which made Celie believe that her sister was dead. The novel is written in a multi narrative way as there is many voices telling each of their individual stories which is similar to ‘The Help’ as the black maids each have a section to portray their stories about the society in which they are living. However, the method of the first person narrative in both novels consists of opinions and thoughts from the individual themselves therefore the characters throughout both novels may over exaggerate the harshness of the treatment directed at them by the ”white” community; it could be argued though that the black characters within ‘The Help’ may not fully address their utter fear towards the white community as at that time black people would have been severely punished for speaking poorly of a white person.  In addition the first person narrative cannot change the view or opinion of the reader as the issues within the novels can be seen to be the whole truth from other sources at that time.

‘The Color Purple’ controls the readers sympathy  through the abuse of Celie by her step father and then Mr___. Similarly ‘The Help’ controls the readers sympathy through the characters of Minny and her husband Leroy as she also gets beaten up. This was a major issue during the times in which the novels were written as women were seen as being less superior than men – especially black women. At that time women were also seen as an object that their husbands could take their anger out on after a hard days work. Differently to all of the women characters in both novels, the character of Sofia in ‘The Color Purple’ seems to be quite confident as when Harpo decides to assert his male dominance she also fights back and Walker describes their fight as a ‘fight between two men’ also showing the strength of Sofia compared to the likes of Celie and the character of Minny in ‘The Color Purple’.

Overall within both ‘The Color Purple’ and ‘The Help’ both Walker and Stockett use similar writing methods and techniques in their novels which allows them to achieve the clever manipulative tactics placed on the reader to focus their minds on the horrific events black women and sometimes men would go through in a segregated society.

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