Wednesday, September 18, 2019

traglear King Lear Essays: Tragic and Pitiful King :: King Lear essays

The Tragic and Pitiful King Lear The general plot of King Lear revolves mainly around the conflict between the King and his daughters, although there is a definite and distinct sub-plot dealing with the plight and tragedy of Gloucester as well. One of the main themes that Shakespeare chooses to focus on in King Lear is the dysfunctional nature of not only the royal family and Gloucester, but the heartache and emotional strain that goes along with being a parent and having to make a decision that will divide your children. This play focuses on not only the after effects of this decision, but the way in which it affects the King, his children and his subjects as well. A strong case can be made for King Lear as Shakespeare's most tragic effort of his career. The fact that nearly the entire cast of this play either is murdered or dies with little to no redemption makes the strongest case for this. In nearly every other Shakespearian work, save perhaps Othello, at least some of the characters enjoy a bit of redemption or salvation with the resolution of the conflict. King Lear's characters are privy to neither of these. The bitterness, sadness, and reality of the human psyche that is contained throughout this work demonstrate its tragic nature best, however. The tie emotionally and physically between a father and a daughter (or son, in relation to the Gloucester/Edmund/Edgar plot) is something entirely different than husband-wife or boyfriend-girlfriend in many of Shakespeares other plays. In the very beginning of the play, when Lear is foolishly dividing up his kingdom between his three daughters, and after he has asked Cordelia's two older sisters what they "think" of him, he turns to her and asks the same question. Her reply shows the true nature of her character, as she says, "Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth. I love Your Majesty according to my bond, no more, nor less." (1.1, ll. 91-93) His words could almost be considered threatening by declaring that her unwillingness to express her love in words might, "mar her fortunes." We are privy to definitive foreshadowing with Cordelia's reply of, "Good my lord, you have begot me, bred me, loved me. I return those duties back to you as are right fi t, obey you, love you, and most honor you.

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