King Lear's Devastation Of A Great Kingdom

1150 words - 5 pages

In Shakespeare's tragic play, King Lear, the audience witnesses the devastation of a great kingdom. Disorder engulfs the land once King Lear transfers his power to his daughters, but as A. C. Bradley wrote, "The ultimate power in the tragic world is a moral order" . By looking at the concept of order versus disorder in the setting, plot, and the character King Lear, the idea of moral order is clearly shown by the outcome of the play.The idea of moral order is clear from the setting of the play. An good example from the play would be that of the storms. By using the technique of pathetic fallacy, Shakespeare creates a storm raging in the sky to reflect the storm raging inside of Lear. Upon the heath, Shakespeare combines this idea of disorder in the universe and disorder within Lear. King Lear says, "Rumble they bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain! Nor rain, wind thunder, fire, are my daughter: I tax you not, you elements, with unkindness; I never gave you kingdom, call'd you children..." Lear's feelings in this passage are comparable to the disorder of the storm. To bring order to the universe, Lear must start by bringing order to himself. This occurs when he becomes lawful and puts his daughters on trial. Soon after, Lear says, "When the rain came to wet me once and the wind to make me chatter, when the thunder would not peace at my bidding, there I found 'em, there I smelt 'em out". Here, Lear explains how the storm actually helped him see the truth. Soon after this happens, the storm is no where to be found. Lear clears himself of his inner rage which calms both the inner storm and the storm raging on earth, which brings order to the universe. This comparison between the setting and the character bring out the idea that Bradley was trying to get across, that is, moral order will succeed.The plot of the play King Lear is, primarily that of good versus evil. The first actions of the play show hierarchy broken and order falling apart. Lear, decides to step down from the throne and divide his kingdom evenly among his three daughters. First, however, he puts his daughters through a test, asking each to tell him how much she loves him. Goneril and Regan, Lear's older daughters, give their father flattering answers. But Cordelia, Lear's youngest and favorite daughter, remains silent, saying that she has no words to describe how much she loves her father. Lear flies into a rage and disowns Cordelia. The king of France, who has courted Cordelia, says that he still wants to marry her even without her land, and she accompanies him to France without her father's blessing. Regan and Goneril, now conspire against him their father; and in the second scene, as if though a spell of corruption has fallen upon the kingdom, the Earl of Gloucester learns of the supposed treachery of his favourite son, Edgar. These events form the basis for chaotic happenings throughout the play. How is moral order to prevail over these actions? Those who become or who are already...

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