The Storm

The climax of Lear’s mental/emotional instability is when he is forced to face his own human condition of mortality, madness, and political disarray. The storm to me symbolizes some form of divine intervention on the events of the play, in Lear’s mind anyway, because he finally experiences humility and understands the fact that he is going to die. The thunder, wind and turmoil of the storm reflects what’s going on in our mad king’s mind.

“The body’s delicate: the tempest in my mind
Doth from my senses take all feeling else
Save what beats there. Filial ingratitude!”

(3.4 15-17)

Filial ingratitude is a theme in the play meaning the ungratefulness of children towards their parents. On stage, you can hear the dramatic screaming, the crack of the thunder, and the flashes of lightning to show how truly manic the King is feeling. And he knows his body and mind are fragile, he can feel it physically and emotionally while the storm rages around him.  I think the storm also symbolizes political disarray because the storm is destructive and relentless, and storm’s feel like the big moment of an apocalyptic movie. Just like King Lear’s Britain, where they are on the brink of civil war, divided and destroying all that might be good and stable. And (although we did not discuss Macbeth in this class) in Macbeth storms symbolize the turmoil in Scotland that I think shows that this was one of Shakespeare’s points. Storms=crazy unrest and turmoil in kingdoms, as well as kingdoms of the mind. You know, since it gets almost just as or more crazy in Macbeth than in King Lear.

~Alexandra Watkins

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