1. When Lear asks his youngest daughter, “What can you say to draw a third more opulent than your sistersT Cordelia replies, “Nothing, my lord.” When she repeats her answer, Lear reminds her that
“nothing will come of nothing.” This theme of “nothingness” runs throughout the play. Edgar and Lear are reduced to Nothings, Gloucester (literally) and Lear (figuratively) can see nothing. How
does this theme play out in the text? How does it help us to understand what happens to the play’s main characters?
2. Consider Shakespeare’s comparative use of the Fool in King Lear and Feste the Clown in Twelfth Night. What role do these professional Fools play in their respective dramas? Look closely at the
scenes where the fools interact with the major protagonists, look especially at their use of language, the targets of their humor, and their relationships to the other characters. What does the
presence and highlighting of “The Fool” add to each play?
3. Breaking with the classical Aristotelian unities, many of Shakespeare’s plays are double plotted. In King Lear, for example, the Lear – daughters plot is doubled against the Gloucester – Edmund
/ Edgar plot. In the upstairs/downstairs world of Twelfth Night, the Orsino/Olivia/Viola love triangle plays itself against the Malvolio/Sir Toby “war.” In considering both plays, how do the second
plots reinforce and further develop the themes developed in the main plots?
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