King Lear: Act 3, Scene 2

The next scene follows Lear as he wanders around the heath challenging the weather to take him on. He asks the weather to do its worst as he thinks about the cruelty of his two daughters. ‘Blow, wind and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!’

The fool begs Lear to go back and talk to his daughter as he says that no man should be out in this night. ‘Here’s a night that pities neither wise man or fool.’

Lear refuses, once again railing against nature for taking the side of his two daughters who have disowned him in such a cruel manner.

Kent enters asking who is there and the fool answers, ‘a wise man and a fool.’ At this point it is clear that the fool is actually a lot wiser than those who are believed to be wise. This paradox is employed by Shakespeare to highlight how stupids some of the characters are behaving, when the fool is seen as the one talking most sense.

Kent tells Lear that even creatures of the night are not out in this weather and that it is the worst weather he has ever seen. ‘Such groans of roaring wind and rain I never remember to have heard.’

Lear says that it is the Gods who have summoned this storm to oust anyone who has escaped justice for crimes they have committed. ‘Tremble and shake, villain, for secretly plotting against human lives.‘ Lear admits that he may have sinned but is adamant that he more sinned against. ‘I am a man more sinned against than sinning.’

Kent begs Lear to go find shelter in a nearby hut and he will go and plead Lear’s case to his two daughters once more.

Lear admits to the fool that he is losing his mind, something he feared earlier in the play. He says that ‘the art of our necessities is strange that can make vile things precious, meaning that he never considered a dirty hut to be precious before now but now that he is desperate, it seems precious. Lear and the fool head for the hut.

Questions:

  1. What does Lear challenge the storm to do?
  2. What does the fool ask Lear to do?
  3. What reason does Lear give for the gods summoning such a storm?
  4. What does Kent tell Lear he is going to do when he and the fool seek shelter? Do you think it will work?
  5. ‘I am a man more sinned against than sinning,’ what do you think this phrase means? Does it hint that Lear may now know that he may have sinned? What sins does he have on his head?
  6. What does this scene show us about humans versus nature?

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