Essay on king lear as a typical shakespearean tragedy


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This reinforces the tragic genre, as the inevitable ill-treatment of Lear will be the beginning of his downfall. Shakespeare builds tension as it seems as if Goneril and Regan will discard their father now that they have inherited a considerable portion of land. By creating such contrasting characters, tragedy is inevitable.

traglear King Lear as an Arthur Miller Tragedy Essay

The characters are made up of a network of biological relations. However, Shakespeare does not introduce a mother-figure into the play at any stage. This seems ironic in that Shakespeare is attempting to exclude a theme that is repeated throughout the play. Cordelia and Edgar represent justice and as Shakespeare removes this theme from the play, it is apparent that villainy and treachery will prevail. This is reinforced as Gloucester is overcome with turmoil and wishes to end his life. This of course is artificial and a ploy to inherit a valuable dowry from his father Gloucester.

Within the main plot, similar under-handedness is brought upon King Lear, whereby Goneril and Regan deceive him in order to gain themselves. As the play progresses the outcome of conspiracy appears to cohere with typical Greek tragedy, whereby the heroic character within the play will undergo a transition either from their nadir to their zenith or from their zenith to their nadir. As they disregard his previous authority, they revel in his newly stated nothingness.

Goneril and Regan reduce Lear to madness and therefore reverse his position. Shakespeare defies the regulations of a typical tragedy, as though he reduced a character from a state of integrity and importance to a condition of madness, with this Lear develops a unity with nature.

The degradation of King Lear alludes to the fall of man. Shakespeare explores spiritualism as he replicates the allegory of the fallen man. Why, this is not Lear. With union of him and nature, Lear gains a sense of humility. Furthermore, the tragedy of King Lear is somewhat initiated by Lear himself. By doing so he drives himself to anger.

Goneril and Regan dismiss their father as a person in power and their treatment of him is far worse than he deserves. The change replicates the image of Lear moving from his zenith to his nadir. It seems as if Shakespeare is attempting to invoke pity upon Lear in order to reinforce the tragedy of the play. Though the madness of Lear seems to be the peak of his downfall, his spiral into lunacy develops a relationship between himself and nature.

King Lear As A typical Shakespearean Tragedy (Essay Sample)

Ironically, Lear is physically at his nadir, but his inner self has regained union with morality and appreciation of the natural world. How dost my boy? Art cold? As he is tortured by the storm he attempts to torture it back. It is somewhat humorous for Lear to assume that he can affect the natural order. Alternatively, it is suggestible in terms of fate, that the extent of the tragedy of King Lear is not as immense as it should appear to be.


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He says he does it for an important purpose, but what the purpose is we have to guess. No one of such defects is surprising when considered by itself, but their number is surely significant. Taken in conjunction with other symptoms it means that Shakespeare, set upon the dramatic effect of the great scenes and upon certain effects not wholly dramatic, was exceptionally careless of probability, clearness and consistency in smaller matters, introducing what was convenient or striking for a momentary purpose without troubling himself about anything more than the moment.

In presence of these signs it seems doubtful whether his failure to give information about the fate of the Fool was due to anything more than carelessness or an impatient desire to reduce his overloaded material. Before I turn to the other side of the subject I will refer to one more characteristic of this play which is dramatically disadvantageous. In Shakespeare's dramas, owing to the absence of scenery from the Elizabethan stage, the question, so vexatious to editors, of the exact locality of a particular scene is usually unimportant and often unanswerable; but, as a rule, we know, broadly speaking, where the persons live and what their journeys are.

The text makes this plain, for example, almost throughout Hamlet , Othello and Macbeth ; and the imagination is therefore untroubled. But in King Lear the indications are so scanty that the reader's mind is left not seldom both vague and bewildered. Nothing enables us to imagine whereabouts in Britain Lear's palace lies, or where the Duke of Albany lives.

In referring to the dividing-lines on the map, Lear tells us of shadowy forests and plenteous rivers, but, unlike Hotspur and his companions, he studiously avoids proper names. The Duke of Cornwall, we presume in the absence of information, is likely to live in Cornwall; but we suddenly find, from the introduction of a place-name which all readers take at first for a surname, that he lives at Gloster i. But no: it is a night's journey from Cornwall's 'house' to Gloster's, and Gloster's is in the middle of an uninhabited heath.

Afterwards they all drift towards Dover for the purpose of the catastrophe; but. And this indefiniteness is found in smaller matters. One cannot help asking, for example, and yet one feels one had better not ask, where that 'lodging' of Edmund's can be, in which he hides Edgar from his father, and whether Edgar is mad that he should return from his hollow tree in a district where 'for many miles about there's scarce a bush' to his father's castle in order to soliloquise ii.

Shakespeare could not help himself in the Roman play: in King Lear he did not choose to help himself, perhaps deliberately chose to be vague. From these defects, or from some of them, follows one result which must be familiar to many readers of King Lear. It is far more difficult to retrace in memory the steps of the action in this tragedy than in Hamlet , Othello , or Macbeth.

The outline is of course quite clear; anyone could write an 'argument' of the play.

King Lear as a Tragic Hero Essay

But when an attempt is made to fill in the detail, it issues sooner or later in confusion even with readers whose dramatic memory is unusually strong. How is it, now, that this defective drama so overpowers us that we are either unconscious of its blemishes or regard them as almost irrelevant? As soon as we turn to this question we recognise, not merely that King Lear possesses purely dramatic qualities which far outweigh its defects, but that its greatness consists partly in imaginative effects of a wider kind.

And, looking for the sources of these effects, we find among them some of those very things which appeared to us dramatically faulty or injurious. Thus, to take at once two of the simplest examples of this, that very vagueness in the sense of locality which we have just considered, and again that excess in the bulk of the material and the number of figures, events and movements, while they interfere with the clearness of vision, have at the same time a positive value for imagination.

They give the feeling of vastness, the feeling not of a scene or particular place, but of a world; or, to speak more accurately, of a particular place which is also a world. This world is dim to us, partly from its immensity, and partly because it is filled with gloom; and in the gloom shapes approach and recede, whose half-seen faces and motions touch us with dread, horror, or the most painful pity,—sympathies and antipathies which we seem to be feeling not only for them but for the whole race. This world, we are told, is called Britain; but we should no more look for it in an atlas than for the place, called Caucasus, where Prometheus was chained by Strength and Force and comforted by the daughters of Ocean, or the place where Farinata stands erect in his glowing tomb, 'Come avesse lo Inferno in gran dispitto.

Consider next the double action. It has certain strictly dramatic advantages, and may well have had its origin in purely dramatic considerations. To go no further, the secondary plot fills out a story which would by itself have been somewhat thin, and it provides a most effective contrast between its personages and those of the main plot, the tragic strength and stature of the latter being heightened by comparison with the slighter build of the former.

What Is a Shakespearean Tragedy?

But its chief value lies elsewhere, and is not merely dramatic. It lies in the fact—in Shakespeare without a parallel—that the sub-plot simply repeats the theme of the main story. Here, as there, we see an old man 'with a white beard. He, too, wrongs deeply a child who loves him not less for the wrong.

He, too, meets with monstrous ingratitude from the child whom he favours, and is tortured and driven to death. This repetition does not simply double the pain with which the tragedy is witnessed: it startles and terrifies by suggesting that the folly of Lear and the ingratitude of his daughters are no accidents or merely individual aberrations, but that in that dark cold world some fateful malignant influence is abroad, turning the hearts of the fathers against their children and of the children against their fathers, smiting the earth with a curse, so that the brother gives the brother to death and the father the son, blinding the eyes, maddening the brain, freezing the springs of pity, numbing all powers except the nerves of anguish and the dull lust of life.

Hence too, as well as from other sources, comes that feeling which haunts us in King Lear , as though we were witnessing something universal,—a conflict not so much of particular persons as. And the treatment of many of the characters confirms this feeling. Considered simply as psychological studies few of them, surely, are of the highest interest.

Fine and subtle touches could not be absent from a work of Shakespeare's maturity; but, with the possible exception of Lear himself, no one of the characters strikes us as psychologically a wonderful creation, like Hamlet or Iago or even Macbeth; one or two seem even to be somewhat faint and thin. And, what is more significant, it is not quite natural to us to regard them from this point of view at all. Rather we observe a most unusual circumstance.

If Lear, Gloster and Albany are set apart, the rest fall into two distinct groups, which are strongly, even violently, contrasted: Cordelia, Kent, Edgar, the Fool on one side, Goneril, Regan, Edmund, Cornwall, Oswald on the other. These characters are in various degrees individualised, most of them completely so; but still in each group there is a quality common to all the members, or one spirit breathing through them all. Here we have unselfish and devoted love, there hard self-seeking. On both sides, further, the common quality takes an extreme form; the love is incapable of being chilled by injury, the selfishness of being softened by pity; and, it may be added, this tendency to extremes is found again in the characters of Lear and Gloster, and is the main source of the accusations of improbability directed against their conduct at certain points.

Hence the members of each group tend to appear, at least in part, as varieties of one species; the radical differences of the two species are emphasized in broad hard strokes; and the two are set in conflict, almost as if Shakespeare, like Empedocles, were regarding Love and Hate as the two ultimate forces of the universe. The presence in King Lear of so large a number of characters in whom love or self-seeking is so extreme, has another effect. They do not merely inspire in us emotions of unusual strength, but they also stir the intellect to wonder and speculation. How can there be such men and women?

How comes it that humanity can take such absolutely opposite forms?

King Lear and the Genre of Tragedy Essay - Words | Bartleby

And, in particular, to what omission of elements which should be present in human nature, or, if there is no omission, to what distortion of these elements is it due that such beings as some of these come to exist? This is a question which Iago and perhaps no previous creation of Shakespeare's forces us to ask, but in King Lear it is provoked again and again. And more, it seems to us that the author himself is asking this question.

Is there any cause in nature that makes these hard hearts? We seem to trace the tendency which, a few years later, produced Ariel and Caliban, the tendency of imagination to analyse and abstract, to decompose human nature into its constituent factors, and then to construct beings in whom one or more of these factors is absent or atrophied or only incipient.

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This, of course, is a tendency which produces symbols, allegories, personifications of qualities and abstract ideas; and we are accustomed to think it quite foreign to Shakespeare's genius, which was in the highest degree concrete. No doubt in the main we are right here; but it is hazardous to set limits to that genius. The Sonnets, if nothing else, may show us how easy it was to Shakespeare's mind to move in a world of 'Platonic' ideas; [] and, while. This same tendency shows itself in King Lear in other forms. To it is due the idea of monstrosity—of beings, actions, states of mind, which appear not only abnormal but absolutely contrary to nature; an idea, which, of course, is common enough in Shakespeare, but appears with unusual frequency in King Lear , for instance in the lines:.

Shakespeare's Tragic Hero Archetype

It appears in another shape in that most vivid passage where Albany, as he looks at the face which had bewitched him, now distorted with dreadful passions, suddenly sees it in a new light and exclaims in horror:. A woman's shape doth shield thee. It appears once more in that exclamation of Kent's, as he listens to the description of Cordelia's grief:.

essay on king lear as a typical shakespearean tragedy Essay on king lear as a typical shakespearean tragedy
essay on king lear as a typical shakespearean tragedy Essay on king lear as a typical shakespearean tragedy
essay on king lear as a typical shakespearean tragedy Essay on king lear as a typical shakespearean tragedy
essay on king lear as a typical shakespearean tragedy Essay on king lear as a typical shakespearean tragedy
essay on king lear as a typical shakespearean tragedy Essay on king lear as a typical shakespearean tragedy
essay on king lear as a typical shakespearean tragedy Essay on king lear as a typical shakespearean tragedy
essay on king lear as a typical shakespearean tragedy Essay on king lear as a typical shakespearean tragedy

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