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How are the locations of action in The Taming of the Shrew and King Lear, both by...

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alice-ramona | eNoter

Posted April 23, 2013 at 5:44 PM via web

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How are the locations of action in The Taming of the Shrew and King Lear, both by Shakespeare, important or symbolic?

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K.P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted June 28, 2013 at 11:53 AM (Answer #1)

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One symbolic importance of the setting/location in The Taming of the Shrew is that the residences of nobility--Kate's father's castle and Petruchio's castle--give opening for the theme of appearance versus reality that is illustrated through the motif of clothing. Petruchio calls forth this symbolic importance when, in talking about Kate's triumphal return to her father's home as Petruchio's excellent wife, he tells her that it is not of importance what clothes are worn but what human honor and dignity shine forth from under the clothes:

And as the sun breaks through the darkest
clouds
So honor peereth in the meanest habit.
What, is the jay more precious than the lark
Because his feathers are more beautiful?

One symbolic importance of setting/location in King Lear is that Lear is left to rage and storm through the betrayals thrown upon him in the midst of a raging wilderness storm crashing upon a loveless heath. He is all but naked, alone in an all but deserted heath, in the heart of a violent storm pouring rain and crashing thunderous lightning. This is important because it symbolizes the destruction his wrong-headed choices have wrought and it symbolizes the further doom that is yet to come upon him and his family. Kent's speech to Lear perfectly sums up the situation as he ends with the statement that human souls are unable to bear unscathed the raging of external storms, which are the symbol of internal storms.

KENT
    Alas, sir, are you here? things that love night
    Love not such nights as these; the wrathful skies
    Gallow the very wanderers of the dark,
    And make them keep their caves: since I was man,
    Such sheets of fire, such bursts of horrid thunder,
    Such groans of roaring wind and rain, I never
    Remember to have heard: man's nature cannot carry
    The affliction nor the fear.

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