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Explain How Shakespeare Communicates His Ideas About The Conflict Between Reality And Appearance In ‘King Lear,' And The Effect On The Audience’s

1030 words - 5 pages

Gloucester’s realisation“I stumbled when I saw," exemplifies the conflict between reality and appearances within William Shakespeare’s King Lear. These two contrasting themes are demonstrated through Shakespeare’s clever affixation of the themes into the portrayal of characters and the plot, and are used to suggest to the audience that the consequences for confusing the two can be extremely dire, but can also create a means for the redemption of oneself, allowing the person to no longer mistake the two.

Shakespeare conveys his ideas about appearances and reality, and the consequences confusing the two can impose, through the symbolism of blindness and true sight, as exhibited by Gloucester. ...view middle of the document...

The discovery of reality through change in perception and appearance is shown through Shakespeare’s portrayal of Edgar’s developing character. Like his father, Edgar is oblivious and easily deceived. Thus, Edgar is manipulated by Edmund to believe that his own father absolutely despises him, and wants him dead. Edgar flees to the woods in an attempt to run away from his own harsh reality, taking on a new identity as a beggar named ‘Poor Tom’. As time passes, Edgar becomes extremely immersed in Poor Tom’s character, and starts to view reality in a different light. Edgar particularly demonstrates this new-found insight on reality when portraying his life as Poor Tom to others. “Poor Tom… that in the fury of his heart, when the foul fiend rages, eats cow dung for salads, swallows the old rat and the ditch-dog" he explains. This suggests that when he is told to, he does anything for the devil, which he starts to realise, in his own reality is Edmund. After comprehending that Gloucester and himself were framed by Edmund, Edgar returns to the kingdom, hoping to seek justice against his brother for his cruel wrongdoings, which in due course resulted in his father’s death. Although he is victorious in the battle, Edgar feels disconcerted by the amount of people who have died as a result of blindness to reality, and begins to realise that letting appearances interfere with our own reality can also have grave consequences. He concludes that we should “Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.”, suggesting that we should not be deceptive to others, and should not let deception interfere with our perception of reality. The dynamic development of Edgar allows the audience to feel sympathetic, as his trusting nature is what led him to his lowest state, however, the development also provides members of the audience with a sense of content. Because of his horrible experiences, Edgar was eventually able to determine the differences between...

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