King Lear

King Lear


William Shakespeare

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The Stars, Heavens, and the Gods Symbol Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
The Stars, Heavens, and the Gods Symbol Icon
In Shakespeare's time there was a particularly strong belief that order on earth depended on order in the heavens—or, as Kent puts it, that "the stars above us govern our conditions" (4.3.39). Celestial bodies are thus both a metaphor of order and a potential source of disorder, when they go awry. Multiple characters in King Lear make references to eclipses that have taken place; in Act 1 Scene 2 in particular, Gloucester attributes the chaos in Lear's court—the banishment of Kent and abrupt departure of Cordelia and France—to "these late eclipses of the sun and moon" (1.2.109). Edmund then mockingly takes up the theme of "what should follow these eclipses" (1.2.148). Later in the play, Lear and Gloucester both appeal to the stars and gods together as benevolent spectators of their sad plights, and as forces for justice. (E.g., Lear cries out in 2.4: "You heavens, give me that patience […] You see me here, you gods, a poor old man" (313-4).

The Stars, Heavens, and the Gods Quotes in King Lear

The King Lear quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Stars, Heavens, and the Gods. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fathers, Children, and Siblings Theme Icon
Act 1, scene 2 Quotes
"Thou, Nature, art my goddess."
Related Characters: Edmund (speaker)
Page Number: 1.2.1
Explanation and Analysis:
"These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us."
Related Characters: Gloucester (speaker)
Page Number: 1.2.109-110
Explanation and Analysis:
"As if we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion."
Related Characters: Edmund (speaker)
Page Number: 1.2.128-129
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 5, scene 3 Quotes
"Howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones!
Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them so
That heaven's vault should crack. She's gone forever."
Related Characters: King Lear (speaker), Cordelia
Related Literary Devices:
Page Number: 5.3.308-310
Explanation and Analysis:
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