Reason vs. Insanity in King Lear

In William Shakespeare’s King Lear, we see Lear diminish in both power and sanity within the play. At the beginning of the play, Lear recognizes that he is growing older and will need to divide his kingdom up between his daughters. However, he does it in a way that isn’t practical or smart. Lear asks,  “Which of you shall we say doth love us most,/That we our largest bounty may extend/Where nature doth with merrit challenge” (act 1, scene 1, lines 56-58). Lear gives his oldest two daughters his kingdom based on their false flattery. Goneril manipulates Lear by saying, “Sir, I love you more than word can wield the/matter,/Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty,” (act 1, scene 1, lines 60-62). Already in act 1, Lear trusts Goneril and Regan. When Cordelia tells Lear she loves him no more than a daughter should love her father, and that her actions should speak for her, Lear banishes her for speaking truthfully. Cordelia: “Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave/My heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty/According to my bond, no more nor less” (act 1, scene 1, lines 100-103). The reader begins to think that Lear is insane because he gave his entire kingdom to Goneril and Regan, who are malicious and plotting against him. 

When Lear’s servant Kent tries to warn him of Goneril and Regan, Lear banishes him. Kent: “When Lear is mad. What wouldst thou do, old man?/Think’st thou that duty shall have dread to speak/When power to flattery bows? To plainness honor’s/bound/When majesty falls to folly” (act 1, scene 1, lines 163-166). The King is bowing to Goneril and Regan’s flattery. Lear banishes Kent “Five days we do allot thee for provision/To shield thee from disasters of the world,/And on the sixth to turn thy hated back/Upon our kingdom. If on the tenth day following/Thy banished trunk be found in our dominions,/The moment is thy death” (act 1, scene 1, lines 197-202). Lear banishes his most loyal follower, Kent. Readers are seeing major problems with Lear’s decision making because he bequeathed his kingdom to his lying daughters, and kicked out his trusted servant. This leads readers to question Lear’s sanity.

Later in act 1, Lear admits that he shouldn’t have banished Cordelia. Lear: (regarding Cordelia) “I did her wrong” (act 1, scene 5, line 24). He seems to be reflecting on his past actions. As the play progresses and Goneril and Regan show their true colors, Lear struggles because his own children have betrayed him. Lear: “I will have such revenges on you both/That all the world shall — I will do such things–/ What they are yet, I know not; but they shall be/The terrors of the earth!” (act 2, scene 4, lines 321-323). Lear finally realizes in this scene that his daughters are not who he thought they were, and he has become mad.

Lear rages at the storm due to the unfair treatment of his daughters towards him. He actually asks the weather to strike him with lightning. Lear: “You sulph’ rous anmd thought-executing fires,/Vaunt-couriers of oak-cleaving thunderbolts,/ Singe my white head!” (act 3, scene 2, lines 5-7). Lear is so plagued by what his daughters have done to him that he asks to be hit by a lightning bolt. Another instance when Lear isn’t thinking clearly is in act 4. Cordelia’s servants come to get the King, but he runs off and says they can take him back if they can catch him. “Then there’s life in ‘t. Come, an you get it, you/Shall get it by running. Sa, sa, sa ,sa!” (act 4, scene 6, lines 222-223). In the previous quotation, Lear is acting childish. His actions result in his downfall in the tragedy. And, it leaves readers in suspense to see if he is able to recover and take back his kingdom.

The Legacy of Nipsey Hussle

The song that I chose is called “Letter to Nipsey” by Meek Mill and Roddy Ricch, within the Dreamchasers 5 album. This song is about mourning the death of Nipsey Hussle, who was a rapper, activist, and entrepreneur. Nipsey Hussle was killed and died in March of 2019, and was only 33 years old. He was not only a talented rapper, but he was also a crucial member of his community. He used some of the money that he earned from rapping to give back to his neighborhood. Nipsey Hussle opened a STEM center for kids, he bought shoes for elementary school students, renovated playgrounds, provided jobs for homeless people, and funded funerals for local families. An important quote from Nipsey Hussle is, “Growing up as a kid, I was looking for somebody–not to give me anything–but somebody that cared. . . Someone that was creating the potential for change and that had an agenda outside their own self interests,” from the LA times. Nipsey Hussle embodied the change that he was looking for in the world. He was a pillar of his community, and he helped so many people. The song “Letter to Nipsey” is beautiful yet heartbreaking, and celebrates the incredible life of Nipsey Hussle.

The first set of lyrics that demonstrate the song as poetry are: “Hustle and motivate, turning a one into a two/Two into four, hurt my heart, I seen you on the floor” These lyrics use wordplay to make the meaning more personal to Nipsey. His last name was Hussle, pronounced the same as the word “Hustle” used in the song. Also, the late rapper had written a song called “Hussle and Motivate.” The word “Hustle” in this song represents Nipsey’s strong work ethic, and references both his last name and one of his songs. Later within the lyrics, Meek Mill displays his emotions when he says “hurt my heart” as he mourns the loss of a friend.

The next set of lyrics states, “You the first one that made me feel like I could die, (homie)/’Cause real (homies) never die, you know the vibes (homie)” After Nipsey Hussle’s death, Meek Mill is hit with the realization that he, too, is mortal. The repetition of the word “(homie)” demonstrates their bond. When Meek Mill says, “Cause real (homies) never die” he means that although Nipsey Hussle died, his legacy will live on. He will never be forgotten by the rap community.

Another set of lyrics states, “And as the marathon continue, we keep running (we won’t stop)” The word “marathon” is the key to understanding the line. Meek Mill confirms that he will carry on what Nipsey started. The word marathon is commonly used when describing life, and the rappers know that making the world a better place will not happen quickly, but change is possible over time. Meek Mill uses a metaphor when he compares the “marathon” to Nipsey’s work and charity, and that they must still work to impact the world positively.

Final set of lyrics, “Had to turn of my phone, throw on the shades, and meditate/What you know ’bout wishing goin’ blind to hide your tears?” These lyrics sung by Roddy Ricch are tragic. The emotion of losing a friend is too much to bear, and he wants to shut them off. When he says, “goin blind to hide your tears,” this is a hyperbole because he doesn’t literally want to go blind, he doesn’t want to deal with his emotions. So he puts his sunglasses on.

The overall theme of the song “Letter to Nipsey” by Meek Mill and Roddy Ricch is about dealing with a loss, yet bouncing back. They know that they cannot change what happened to Nipsey, they can only move forward and continue the work that he started. Nipsey Hussle was an amazing person, friend, leader, and rapper, and his life deserves to be celebrated. Meek Mill and Roddy Ricch understood this, and although they are writing about a tragic event, they created an inspirational poem. This song is poetry because it uses poetic elements such as a play on words, metaphors, and hyperboles. These elements are typically what make up a poem. I definitely recommend listening to “Letter to Nipsey.”

Migration in Exit West

In the novel Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, migration is a bittersweet experience for Nadia and Saeed. They have to leave their homes, jobs, and entire lives behind. It is especially heartbreaking because Saeed’s father refuses to come with them through the door. “And so neither expected, when a handwritten note from the agent arrived, pushed under their apartment door one morning and telling them precisely where to be at precisely what time the following afternoon, that Saeed’s father would say, ‘You two must go, but I will not come'” (95). No matter what Saeed or Nadia say, Saeed’s father will not change his mind. And before their journey, Saeed’s father talked to Nadia. “Saeed’s father summoned Nadia into his room. . . and all he asked was that she remain by Saeed’s side until Saeed was out of danger. . .” (97).

He wants to ensure Saeed’s safety because throughout the novel, Nadia proves to be an independent, strong, and responsible woman. If they stick together they will have a better chance of surviving. When the two are traveling through the door, “It was said in those days that the passage was both like dying and being born, and indeed Nadia experienced a kind of extinguishing as she entered the blackness. . .” (104). The experience of their migration to Mykonos is short, but almost surreal. When Saeed and Nadia get to Mykonos, “The beach was fronted by a beach club, with bars and tables and large outdoor loudspeakers and loungers stacked for winter” (105). The description of their new home seems positive. Nadia and Saeed’s journey from their home to Mykonos is sad in some respects, but hopefully it will be better in the long run if they are safe from the violence that they had to endure. My question is will this new environment strengthen their relationship or tear them apart?

Why Doesn’t Meursault Care?

In chapters 1-6 of The Stranger, the main character, Meursault, is indifferent about life. In the first sentence of the book by Albert Camus, Meursault says, “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know” (1). This quotation illustrates how Meursault doesn’t express emotion at the death of his own mother. It also alienates him from society because most people would be very sad if that happened to them, and he doesn’t express their typical shared emotion. Another instance where Meursault shows indifference can be found on page 41. Meursault says, “That evening Marie came by to see me and asked me if I wanted to marry her. I said it didn’t make any difference to me and that we could if she wanted to. Then she wanted to know if I loved her. I answered the same way I had the last time, that it didn’t mean anything but that I probably didn’t love her.” When Marie asks Meursault if he loves her, he says no and it doesn’t mean anything to him. This is super sad for Marie and she is confused as to why he answers this way. From these two quotations, we can conclude that Meursault doesn’t care much about life, but why? On page 41, Meursault reflects, “Looking back on it, I wasn’t unhappy. When I was a student, I had lots of ambitions like that. But when I had to give up my studies I learned very quickly that none of it really mattered.” The previous quotation doesn’t fully explain Meursault’s attitude, but it helps us to understand his position. After his studies, he became less ambitious and was unmotivated at work. This is not a full explanation, but it helps the reader to better realize why the protagonist is indifferent.

Sylvia and Sugar

Throughout the story “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara, it highlights the relationship between Sylvia and her cousin Sugar. I think their friendship adds a lot to the story because it makes it more exciting. The first sentence states, “Back in the days when everyone was old and stupid or young and foolish and me and Sugar were the only ones just right. . .” It demonstrates how they are super connected to one another. On page 113, Sylvia remembers, “I just couldn’t go through with the plan. Which was for me to run up to the altar and do a tap dance while Sugar played the nose flute and messed around in the holy water.” I really liked this story because the two cousins are so fun-loving and always getting into trouble. Even though “The Lesson” teaches the children about money, their friendship adds another level to the plot. And towards the end of the story, the text states, “‘Equal chance to pursue happiness means an equal crack at the dough, don’t it?’ Miss Moore is besides herself and I am disgusted with Sugar’s treachery. So I stand on her foot one more time to see if she’ll shove me” (115). When Sugar pays attention to Miss Moore and learns from her, Sylvia is angry because she doesn’t like Miss Moore. In the end, they race to Hascombs and everything is good. Overall, I loved the story “The Lesson” and I especially loved Sylvia and Sugar.

Moral Struggles in Escape from Spiderhead

In “Escape from Spiderhead,” Jeff, the protagonist, faces internal struggles throughout the story. They ultimately drive him to commit suicide at the end. On page 67, the text states, “‘I don’t want you to Darkenfloxx Heather. . . I don’t want you to Darkenfloxx anybody. . . ” Abnesti asks Jeff to choose Darkenfloxx for either Heather or Rachel. Jeff isn’t in love with either of them but he respects them as humans and doesn’t want them to suffer. This is an example of mutual recognition, something that Abnesti doesn’t understand. Further on in the story, the text states, “Heather. . . dissasemble the chair while continuing to drive her head into the wall. . .” She is given the Darkenfloxx and feels the full affects of the lethal drug. As a result, Jeff is crying because he doesn’t want to see her suffer. And on page 80, Jeff lays his struggles to rest when he commits suicide. Internally, he says, “No, I thought, no thanks, I’ve had enough.” This is very tragic yet such an important moment. The whole story, Jeff had to do what Abnesti told him and this is his final act to go against the system. We don’t know if Rachel will be given Darkenfloxx but Jeff is freed from the oppression.