This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

King Lear And The Genre Of Tragedy

1299 words - 6 pages

A tragedy is a genre typically defined as a play that deals with a series of events that lead to the downfall of the hero. Written between 1604 and 1606, ‘King Lear’ falls into the genre of tragedy, depicting the destruction and downfall of the main character (Abrams). The play centres on Lear, an aging king who, in his retirement, decides to divide his kingdom between his three daughters while retaining the title and privileges of being king. However, King Lear’s actions lead to the destruction of his family, tearing up his kingdom and creating a war. ‘King Lear’ is a tragedy as it follows the codes and conventions generally associated with the genre. The hero and main protagonist, King Lear, is an influential, highborn character. This character, although virtuous, has a fatal flaw that leads to his demise (Shakespeare.nuvvo.com). It is Lear’s character in combination with the themes of conflict, power, family and forgiveness that make ‘King Lear’ a tragedy.

‘King Lear’ is a character driven play. As the main character, it is Lear’s decisions that affect those around him. Lear himself is stubborn, proud and is often blind to the truth. Because of this, it is made clear that Lear values appearance over reality, thus showing how the character and flaws of the character contribute to and further the conflict within the play (A TEACHER’S GUIDE TO THE SIGNET CLASSIC EDITION OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S KING LEAR). One of the biggest scenes based on conflict that supports this is at the end of Act 2, scene 4 where Lear is driven to breaking point by the cruelties of Goneril and Regan. Lear rages against them, explaining that their attempts to take away his knights and his servants hurt him.

“O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous.
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man’s life as cheap as beast’s.” page: 1292
He cries, explaining that humans would be no different to animals if they did not need more than fundamental necessities of life to be happy. Lear needs knights and attendants not only for their service but for what their presence represents; namely, his identity as king. Therefore, in stripping Lear of his power, they are reducing him to the level of an animal. It is Lear’s fatal flaw of pride, his conceited nature and ignorance that lead to him staging the ‘love test’ in the beginning of the play. It is Lear’s actions based on this test that end up destroying his family.
Family is the most evident theme portrayed in ‘King Lear’ and is the centre of the play. Lear is not only the king but also a family patriarch thus making him the most influential figure in his three daughter’s life (Novelguide). However, Lear is an egocentric character driven by his own wants and needs. He wants to be treated as a king, with all the privileges of being a king but without any of the responsibility or pressures of ruling a kingdom. This is evident in the ‘love test’ he stages with his daughters in the beginning of...

Find Another Essay On King Lear and the Genre of Tragedy

The Integrity of Humanity Explored in The Tragedy of King Lear

1330 words - 5 pages reason, while the animals of the earth have only the capacity to choose the best option for their own survival. Human reasoning, both gracious and grave is witnessed in the words of William Shakespeare’s play, The Tragedy of King Lear. Through both provocative and seemingly angelic characters, Shakespeare communicates to the audience that humans are born with the capacity to emerge from their simple selfish instincts based on survival and grow in

traglear King Lear as a Bradley Tragedy

1330 words - 5 pages King Lear as a Bradley Tragedy      King Lear meets all the requirements of a tragedy as defined by Andrew Cecil Bradley.  Bradley states that a Shakespearean tragedy has to be the story of the hero and there is exceptional suffering and calamity slowly being worn in.  Also, the current time must be contrasted to happier times.  The play also depicts the troubled parts in the hero’s life and eventually he dies instantaneously because of

traglear King Lear as an Arthur Miller Tragedy

1216 words - 5 pages King Lear as an Arthur Miller Tragedy        If we seek to justify Shakespeare's King Lear as a tragedy by applying Arthur Miller's theory of tragedy and the tragic hero, then we might find Lear is not a great tragedy, and the character Lear is hardly passable for a tragic hero. However, if we take Aristotle's theory of tragedy to examine this play, it would fit much more neatly and easily. This is not because Aristotle prescribes using

King Lear - Disruption Of Order In King Lear And The Causes

881 words - 4 pages Shakespeare's King Lear is a play which shows the consequences of one man's decisions. The audience follows the main character, Lear, as he makes decisions that disrupt order in his Kingdom. When Lear surrenders all his power and land to his daughters as a reward for their demonstration of love towards him, the breakdown on order in evident. Lear's first mistake is to divide his Kingdom into three parts. A Kingdom is run best under one ruler

The Nature of King Lear

1071 words - 4 pages The most prevailing images in King Lear are the images (metaphoric and actual) of nature. The concept of nature seems to consume the dialogue, monologues, and setting. It might be useful to view nature as `the natural order of the world' (and, perhaps, the universe). When one goes against the natural order, chaos will follow. Shakespeare has made this point clear in "Troilus and Cressida" where Ulysses predicts that once "the specialty of

The Reinvention of King Lear

2118 words - 8 pages Shakespeare's master works The Tragedy of King Lear has received the most scholarly debate and bold interpretation, often to the point of complete reinvention, throughout theatrical history. The tragedy was first performed in 1605 or at the end of 1606 depending on who is speaking. The earliest printed version of the play appears in the celebrated First Quarto of 1608. This account stands in direct conflict with the Folio of 1623. While each

A Comparison of the Outcomes of Othello and King Lear

558 words - 2 pages The Tragic Outcome of Othello and King Lear   Two Sources        In Othello and Lear, Shakespeare contrasts two endings that tragedy can bring.  As Lear is thrown from kingship, he begins to see through his previous misconceptions about love, justice, and the nature of authority.  Othello, on the other hand, held no real misconceptions about the world.  He begins the tragedy nearly

Insanity and the Necessity of Madness in King Lear

1841 words - 7 pages The Necessity of Madness in King Lear At the beginning of “King Lear,” an authoritative and willful protagonist dominates his court, making a fateful decision by rewarding his two treacherous daughters and banishing his faithful one in an effort to preserve his own pride. However, it becomes evident during the course of the tragedy that this protagonist, Lear, uses his power only as a means of projecting a persona, which he hides behind as

Alienation in King Lear and The Jew of Malta

3130 words - 13 pages Alienation in King Lear and The Jew of Malta During one time or another, every individual has experienced Alienation. Whether it is with family members, in our society, in our religion, in our educational institution and even in politics: “The most common form of alienation is the physical and cultural kind experiencing "foreignness" or "culture shock." This is also the kind of alienation that is most easily

King Lear - Discuss the role of the fool in King Lear and his function in the unfolding of the plot

687 words - 3 pages In 'King Lear', the Fool is a character of dramatic importance in the play. The Fool helps the reader, and in Shakespeare's time would help the audience, to understand what lies beneath the surface of certain actions or verses. He equally strives to make Lear 'see'. The Fool may be a very intriguing character and very often a complicated one but his role is necessary in 'King Lear'.The Fool plays three major roles; one of these roles is that of

Purpose of the Fool of King Lear

1161 words - 5 pages kingdom Fool immediately assumes her role as Lear's protector. The fool is the king's advocate, honest and loyal and through his use of irony sarcasm and humour he is able to point out Lear's faults. Functioning much as a chorus would in a Greek tragedy, the fool comments on events in the play, the king's actions and acts as Lear's conscience. As he is the only character who is able to confront Lear directly without risk of punishment, he is able

Similar Essays

King Lear And The Theme Of Tragedy

1175 words - 5 pages A tragedy is a genre typically defined as a play that deals with a series of events that lead to the downfall of the hero. Written between 1604 and 1606, ‘King Lear’ falls into this genre of tragedy, depicting the destruction and demise of the main character (Abrams). The play centres on Lear, an aging king who, in his retirement, decides to divide his kingdom between his three daughters while retaining the title and privileges of being king

The Tragedy Of King Lear Essay

1029 words - 5 pages Gonorill. Regan. Cordelia. Those names should ring a bell if you have ever read or seen “The Tragedy of King Lear.” The plot behind this play revolves around King Lear’s relationships with each of these three characters; his daughters. King Lear has a different relationship with each of them. Gonorill, Regan and Cordelia all have very distinct personalities. In this play, King Lear decided it was time to give up and divide his kingdom amongst

Oedipus The King And The Tragedy Of King Lear

1190 words - 5 pages Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of King Lear One of the key themes in both Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of King Lear and Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex is the importance of having a good understanding of our condition as human beings – knowing ourselves, the world that surrounds us and our place in it. At the same time, however, both authors recognize the fact that blindness to this knowledge of the human condition is

The Tragedy Of King Lear Analysis

2197 words - 9 pages The Tragedy of King Lear Analysis Lear: By Jupiter, I swear no! Kent: By Juno, I swear ay. In The Tragedy of King Lear, particularly in the first half of the play, Lear continually swears to the gods. He invokes them for mercies and begs them for destruction; he binds both his oaths and his curses with their names. The older characters—Lear and Gloucester—tend view their world as strictly within the moral framework of the pagan