What Stacy’s Teaching: King Lear
Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Strike flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!
Crack nature’s moulds, all germens spill at once
That make ingrateful man!
Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! Spout, rain!
Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters:
I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness;
I never gave you kingdom, called you children,
You owe me no subscription: then, let fall
Your horrible pleasure; here I stand, your slave,
A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man. (3.2.1-20)
My Shakespeare class this semester is an English professor’s dream (see: earlier post from September!). There are only ten of us (four English majors and six seniors with majors ranging from Business Management to Environmental Science who are taking the class “for fun”), and we sit around a conference table and just talk. We grapple with issues of morality and ethical dilemmas and what makes a character a “hero” or “villain.”
This week we’re reading King Lear – my favorite Shakespeare play to see and teach and read and ponder. The main character is both hero AND villain, horrible AND simultaneously sympathetic, lucid AND falling into senility and mental chaos.
Read it if you haven’t. Read it again if you have. You won’t regret it.