Analysis of King Lear by William Shakespeare As defined by the majority of literary sources tragedy represents a narrative poem, which typically describes the downfall of a great man. However, more thorough approach of critics indicates the tragedy as a serious drama, which includes the protagonist and a superior force, usually perceived as destiny, and has disastrous conclusion. William Shakespeares tragedy King Lear contains more than one tragedy in itself, but great controversy conditioned by misfortune and error of judgment. Although there is no central theme in King Lear mainly due to complexity of storylines combined with interactions of heroes, the issue of fidelity can be considered to be one of the most peculiar and typical for many characters. Thus, in the very beginning of story the Earl of Kent is exiled from the kingdom by King Lear. However, despite this serious penalty Kent remains to be loyal to the king and even disguises himself in order to make sure the king is safe. A father-daughter interaction is significantly marked with controversy of fidelity (Rouse, 37).
Though Cordelias love to her father is evident and cannot be described in words, King Lears egotistical character holds a love contest. Her I love your majesty according to my bond; no more nor less sentence Cordelia to be banished from the kingdom. King Lear utters his disgust of Cordelia by manifesting to everyone that he has no such daughter and that he never wants to see That face of hers again. Simultaneously, his tone sounds spitefully towards his once favorite daughter, revealing to the audience how callous and hard-hearted he is. In addition, this remark characterizes King Lear as an egotistical, superficial and materialistic person. Thus, he only considers people in terms of their materialistic value, which becomes evident when he dismisses France and Cordelia for being worthless and says Come, noble Burgundy, with the emphasis made on noble. Whenever Lear talks about love or money he confuses the two, since to him both mean the same thing.
... love which causes Lear to banish his most beloved daughter Cordelia. When asked how much she loves her father, Cordelia ... from his own experience. Several events in King Lear are seen differently by various characters. Their ... Varying Perceptions of Different Characters In Shakespeare's King Lear, there are several sequences which display the ... of many innocent people, making King Lear a true tragedy.
It becomes even more apparent when he advises France on his choice of bride, Tavert your liking a more worthier way. Eventually, when France and Cordelia are leaving, during her farewell speech Cordelia refers to her sister and father. From the critical point of view, she discloses to the audience the family bonds that exist under any circumstances. Simultaneously, it contrasts with actual reality of mistreated and disown Cordelia. According to Elizabethan Order everyone is closely bonded within the family unit and thus, Lear disrupts the natural order. The situation becomes even more peculiar considering the paganish times the storyline is set in, because Lear is portrayed unnatural and opposed to God (Bradley, 47).
Cordelia is more devoted to family bonds, affirming femininity of the family (Bradley, 49).
Her true feelings are revealed as she tries to stay in touch with the Earl of Gloucester in order to ensure Lears welfare. Cordelias fidelity to her father is disclosed in passionate wish, O my dear father! Restoration hangs thy medicine on my lips, and let this kiss repair those violent harms that my two sisters have in thy reverence made (Shakespeare, IV. 126).
In another storyline, being falsely accused in attempted murder of his father, Edgar manifests ultimate loyalty and devotion by disguising himself as a beggar in order to find Gloucester. However, the scene between Edgar and his father, though being initially comprehended as parallel interaction to Cordelia and King Lear does not end with complete recognition and reconciliation but with the death of Gloucester. Edgar is considered to be very contradictious character due to his readiness to accept rather than challenge proclamations against his life. Moreover, at some level of his being, Edgar believes he actually deserves the punishment and justifies his fathers proclamations. Through the Edgar and Gloucester conflict Shakespeare points out that trust and understanding between father and son, hence parents and children are very fragile and fall prey to circumstances.
Type of Work:Tragic dramaSettingMedieval England Principal CharactersLear, King of BritainCordelia, his faithful daughterRegan and Goneril, his two mean-spirited daughtersThe Dukes of Cornwall and Albany, their husbandsThe Earl of GloucesterEdmund , the Earl’s treacherous sonEdgar, the Earl’s true son (later disguised as a madman)The Duke of Kent, Cordelia’s loyal helperLear’s Fool, a comical ...
One may consider that Shakespeare chose not to represent interaction of Edgar and Gloucester as a part of dramatic action of the play precisely because of its incompletion and failure. However, Edgars storyline includes difficult process as he sought to restore himself to fathers good graces. Moreover, Gloucester and Edgars pilgrimage constitutes important process of learning and thus, the father and son interaction extends beyond the subject of narrated events. Parallel between King Lear and Gloucester becomes inevitable when Shakespeare reveals the issue of sight and its relevance to clear vision. Having physical ability to see, King Lear lacks insight and understanding. Simultaneously, being blind Gloucester gains inner vision, affirming Shakespeares idea that clear sight is not derived solely from physical abilities. From the critical point of view, Lears failure to see constitutes the primary cause of his demise.
Prior to the loss of physical sight, Gloucester was not able to analyze events and determine possible consequences of his actions (Rackin, 19).
Being informed that Edgar could be plotting against him, Gloucester calls him an Abhorred villain, unnatural, detested, brutish villain. Lacking insight and any intuition, Gloucester does not even question whether Edgar would be capable to make a plot. However, when Gloucester loses physical ability to see, he gains marvelous inner vision and even ability to foresee. Thus, once being captured by Cornwall, Gloucester provokes him to pluck out his eyes by saying: But I shall see The winged vengeance overtake such children. Cornwall. Seet shalt thou never.
Fellows, hold the chair. Upon these eyes of thine Ill set my foot (Shakespeare, III.66-69).
Discuss the significance of the Gloucester subplot in King Lear. King Lear, hailed by critics as Shakespeares greatest tragedy, is a thematic play which questions the natural chain of order and the consequences of events which in turn disrupt this chain. The play revolves around Lears division of his kingdom amongst his daughters, one of whom (Cordelia) he rejects after she fails to declare her ...
Ironically, King Lear advises Gloucester to get glass eyes in order to see the things thou dost not. Consequently, Lear questions Gloucesters state with the words: No eyes in your head, nor no money in your purse? Your eyes are in a heavy case, your purse in a light, Yet you see how this world goes. Gloucester. I see it feelingly (Shakespeare, IV.147-151).
Although Lear recognizes his mistakes, he is still confident in that sight comes only from the eyes. Gloucester explains him that sight comes from within as a result of the mind, heart, and emotions put together. By the end of the storyline King Lear evidently loses his sanity. He starts talking in prose, which Shakespeare usually utilizes to indicate madness in his characters. King Lear attempts to convince himself that he remains to be powerful and authoritative, however, he finishes his revelation with a deep sigh, which indicates his vulnerability and instability. From the critical point of view, Shakespeares tragic heroes gain their insights through suffering and pain. Bibliography Shakespeare, William.
King Lear. Boston Book, 1993 Rouse A.L. The Contemporary Shakespeare. University Press of America, 1984 Bradley, A.C. Shakespearean Tragedy. Cleveland, OH: World Publishing, 1964 Rackin, Phyllis. Shakespeares Tragedies. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1978.