Analysis Of William Shakespeare's King Lear

982 words - 4 pages

In King Lear, William Shakespeare predominantly uses the two broad settings. These are the outdoor world and the indoor world. Inside the confines of walls it is Lear who holds power to do as he pleases, but outside the borders of brick and mortar, the very same man is at the mercy of Nature. Human hearts respond with hardness and devaluing ones self when given no love. Lear is one such character who due to family circumstances relies on his daughters to provide him with love but when he finds that this love for him is no longer what it used to be, he reacts by damaging not only the lives of people around him, but also himself. Shakespeare makes this apparent to the reader through the contrasting settings of the palace and of the heath.
The composition of Lear’s household and the events which unfold are used by Shakespeare to show the greed of man. Lear’s family constitutes, his three daughters and him. From the very start it is made obvious to the reader that there is no mother figure in the family. This fact compels the reader to infer that, it is from his daughters that Lear gets love. The first scene shows both the splitting up of the kingdom and a marriage proposal for Cordelia. This juxtapositioning of events shows that Lear holds a “darker purpose” (1,1,35) for doing so. Cordelia is Lear’s “last” (1,1,82) daughter, who is soon to be married to either, the “vines of France.. [or] the milk of Burgundy”. This foretells that after the events which transpire on this night there will be no reason for the three daughters to remain at home with the king. Lear uses the metonymy of the “vines... [and] milk”, both symbols of the power of the two lands, to show that only good awaits her if she is married off to any of these gentlemen. To the audience Lear’s decision to abdicate, his control over the land of England comes as no surprise, as he intends his “abode make with...[the daughters] by due turn.”(1,1,133-134) The audience is slowly able to sense the craving this King has for love. All suspicions are proven true, when Lear allots the proportion of land based on the answer to the question, “Which of you shall we say doth love us most?” (1,1,50) . Lear effectively tries to entice his daughters saying that, “...our largest bounty may extend where... merit challenge” (1,1,51-52) In essence, his desire is to see his daughters proclaim that, their love for him is greater than the love which they hold for their husbands, and any other being alive. This creates a correlation between the vanity of the King and his craving for love. Cordelia is the one who is able to abstain from his love driven will. She states that she can never marry like her sisters, “To love my father all.”...

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