English Literature course: Comments by Randa Saab on:
King Lear – Act 3 scene 2
Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench’d our steeples, drown’d the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Smite flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!
Crack nature’s moulds, an germens spill at once,
That make ingrateful man!
The passage is about nature in its most fierce behaviour and its relationship with anger. It is also about the relationship of Man and the supernatural.
Lear is commanding Nature as a supernatural power to show its utmost ferocity to the extent of drowning the world. This is reflected in Lear’s language. He used onomatopoeia such as “blow, crack, spout, drenched, drowned, singe, strike, spill” to mimic the sounds and intensity of the storm. He used alliteration to intensify the sound of the wind “crack your cheeks”. He used “drenched and drowned”, and used imagery in “ drenched our steeples” to intensify the image of drowning himself and the world, “strike.. thick”, the reader envisages the flood covering Lear’s head.
The supernatural theme is reflected in personification through communicating with and commanding Nature, such as the wind: “crack your cheeks”, as well as hurricanes, fire, thunder; “you thought-executing fires, thou all-shaking thunder..”.
Lear calls for Nature to annihilate all life, “flat… the world, Crack Nature’s moulds, all germens spill at once, that make ingrateful man”. This creates the imagery of Nature in a fit of anger towards Man who is ungrateful to Nature’s offerings. This echoes his curse of barrenness that he threw on his daughter because he thought she was ungrateful to his generosity towards her.