In King Lear, Act III, Scene 2, explain how language and stylistic choices contribute to the theme and the tone of the passage. Describe its...


In Act III, Scene 2 of King Lear, Lear personifies nature and the elements of the storm. He commands or asks the storm to continue its intensity as if this act of nature acts out his own anguish and the tragedy of (Lear's or humanity's) existence which makes man "ingrateful" (hopeless). This is called the pathetic fallacy; when a character or speaker ascribes human emotion to inanimate objects (or the weather), often as if these objects are empathizing with the character.

Lear takes this to full blown personification with these lines: "But yet I call you servile ministers/That have with two pernicious daughters join'd," (III.ii.1697-1698). Initially, one could say that Lear sees the storm as nature empathizing with his own anguish, but then he notes he has nothing to do with nature, "You owe me no subscription" (1694). But, in the end, he equates the storm with his daughters' evil.

Lear has given his kingdom to his daughters so he is as much at their mercy as he is at the mercy of the storm. His inner turmoil is equally paralleled by the fury of the storm. The fervor with which Lear shouts at nature is his attempt to express his inner turmoil, and by comparing that turmoil with the storm, he might at least give it an inner/outer balance.

Finally, Lear seems to invoke nature (the storm) to inflict more damage. This is a futile feeling of 'why not, how could things get any worse?' Then he resigns himself to silence which could do no worse than shouting. This recalls Cordelia's earlier response that nothing comes from nothing. Stylistically, Lear also sounds like a magician trying to conjure the storm itself, pathetically trying to assume some control over his life/the world.


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