When the rain falls down

In Act three of The Tragedy of King Lear, I found the moment in which Lear was locked outside into a storm as a powerful moment in the play. The way in which he deals (or talks) with the storm is as if symbolizing the way the daughters should be acting with him, as king. His tragedy is quickly brought to court in this short scene where the natural becomes something idealized and a mentor.

King Lear begins his rage directed at the storm, asking it to sort of “bring it on” and do as much damage as it can to his “white head” (1274). His reasons, although in the beginning I felt like this was a suicide mission, was not at all one. Rather, I felt as if Lear was viewing the storm as a sign of his Kingship, where he must obey and succumb to the storms wishes and nothing he could do would stop it from its “thunderbolts” just like his subjects were obligated to obey him as King. His main point comes around when he states, “I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness / I never gave you kingdom, call’d you children; / you owe me no subscription.” (1274) where it seems as if he argues that his daughters must obey him solely because he raised them and gave them his kingdom so in turn he expects them to owe him this “subscription.” His statements go on to assert that he regards himself as a “slave” to the storm where the storm acts as agents to destroy him along with his daughters. Here, King Lear makes a foul mistake for the storm’s rage has nothing to do with King Lear’s actions and his two daughters going against him have everything to do with his very own decisions. When King Lear calls himself “more sinn’d against than sinning” he tends to overlook the fact that it was he who was unable to detect his two daughters greediness and it was he who was ungrateful towards Cordelia’s sincere love.

This fall-out in King Lear’s part reflects on the bad decisions that he made in his life. Although he may be considered a good King, he is fully aware of his mistakes yet never reaches out to Cordelia (till this point at least) to try to med ways at the very least with one of his daughters.

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4 thoughts on “When the rain falls down

  1. Darya

    I loved that image too! Nature, especially in literature, is a great reflector and indicator of what's going on in the character's lives, especially emotionally. The storm is like the background music to what King Lear is feeling inside. It is with nature that Lear finally lets his true inner self get loose. Beforehand, he was just letting his oldest daughters step all over him, almost forgetting that he is, by his own true nature, a king. His threatening words toward the storm is like a release of the storm that was building up inside of him after all this time.

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  2. natgiuliano

    I agree. It is interesting that the King did not go out into the storm to die, but rather to be stripped down of all his material components and to leave a structured environment (Regan's home/his kingdom). At first he was talking to nature/the storm as if they were his subjects (or vice versa) because that's the only way he knew how to interact with outside forces, but as he spent more time alone with nature, we saw him questioning and then literally stripping himself from the material world of rank. Nature does seem to mentor him, and maybe he never goes back to Cordelia because he can no longer fathom his relation to that structured world once he's made realizations about its falsehood.

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  3. Cyrus Mulready

    Just to follow up on Samia's post and Natalie's comment, Lear does seem to have a turnabout at the end of the play when faced with the death of Cordelia. Instead of embracing nature, he asks: "Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, / And thou no breath at all?" Whereas previously he imagined himself entwined with nature, in the end he wants to restore an order that places humans outside of nature.

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