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

Shakespeare's King Lear Essay

1753 words - 7 pages

Shakespeare's King Lear is known as one of his greatest tragedies. The story is full of misfortune, deception and death. The story also contains two plots, a main plot with King Lear, and a subplot with a character referred to as Gloucester. The main plot and subplot in King Lear may have minor differences but the two main characters of each plot share the same fundamental theme of blindness.
The theme of a story is the main subject or idea the author is trying to get across. In King Lear there are quite a few themes. Some of these are easy to come across and others you have to search for while truly understanding Shakespeare's words. When comparing and contrasting the plots, the same themes occur on both sides of the story. One of these themes is blindness. It is important to comprehend what Shakespeare has meant by using this word. Throughout the story there are literal and metaphorical forms of blindness impacting the characters. Thematically, blindness refers the obliviousness or the unaware outlook the two fathers have on the things going on around them.
We can start with King Lear himself and analyze his disability to see the authenticity in his daughters. This disability evidently arises when King Lear decides to split his land between his three children. Before he divvies up the land, each daughter is asked pronounce their love for their father in front of the other dinner guests. Any sensible person can see that the idea of forcing a loved one to share their feelings for you, in order to receive a piece of land is…not a good idea. King Lear though, has no sense of what could possibly come from pinning his daughters against each other. He continues to be unaware as his daughters, Goneril and Regan, lie with exaggeration about how much they love him. An outside perspective can easily pull forward the amplification that occurs in both of their monologues. Goneril's monologue is a great, first example.

Sir, I do love you more than words can wield the matter,
Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty,
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare,
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor,
As much as child e'er loved or father found—
A love that makes breath poor and speech unable.
Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
(I,I,16)

In translation, Goneril is claiming that she loves her father has much as life itself and the things it contains such as beauty, liberty, honour and even eyesight. Such an unhealthy description of love towards another human being should be either alarming or ridiculous but we find Lear eating up her words like chocolate. The same thing occurs in Regan's minor monologue.

"Sir, I am made of that self mettle as my sister,
And prize me at her worth. In my true heart,
I find she names my very deed of love—
Only she comes too short, that I profess
Myself an enemy to all other joys,
Which the most precious square of sense possesses.
And find I am alone felicitate
In your dear highness' love.
(I,I,16)
Regan...

Find Another Essay On Shakespeare's King Lear

King Lear's Folly in Shakespeare's King Lear

1227 words - 5 pages King Lear's Folly    In Shakespeare's King Lear, the actions of King Lear and of his daughters bring ruin and chaos to England. Social structures crumble, foreign invaders threaten the land, and, in a distinctly non-Hollywood ending, almost everyone dies tragically. The outlook is very bleak, as many of the problems are left unresolved at the end of the play: There is no one in line to assume sovereignty, and justice and virtue have not

Shakespeare's King Lear - Suffering of Cordelia in King Lear

1503 words - 6 pages The tragedy of Shakespeare’s King Lear is made far more tragic and painful by the presence and suffering of the king's youngest daughter, Cordelia. While our sympathy for the king is somewhat restrained by his brutal cruelty towards others, there is nothing to dampen our emotional response to Cordelia's suffering. Nothing, that is, at first glance. Harley Granville-Barker justifies her irreconcilable fate thus: "the tragic truth about life to

Essay on Blame in Shakespeare's King Lear

580 words - 2 pages King Lear is To Blame   In William Shakespeare's play, "King Lear", the main character, King Lear, claims to be "a man more sinned against than sinning"(3.2.60-61). Though a good king, King Lear's own actions cause his family and kingdom to fall apart. The sins committed against King Lear are a result of his personal faults of rashness, blindness, and foolishness.   King Lear's hot temper and hasty decisions play a

Fool in William Shakespeare's King Lear

1739 words - 7 pages Fool in William Shakespeare's King Lear The Fool’s function in King Lear is to create emphasis on the tragedy in the play and give insight into the characters’ true nature. He shows other characters’ nature though blunt comments and earns himself the name of ‘all-licensed Fool’, as he clearly states peoples’ inner personality. He develops the tragedy though a theme of madness and instability, from his use of

Clear Vision in Shakespeare's King Lear

1839 words - 7 pages Seeing Clearly in King Lear        King Lear of Britain, the protagonist in Shakespeare's tragic play of the same name undergoes radical change as a man, father and king as he is forced to bear the repercussions of his actions. Lear is initially portrayed as being an egotistical ruler, relying on protestations of love from his daughters to apportion his kingdom. Lear's tragic flaw is the division of his kingdom and his inability to see the

Divine Justice in Shakespeare's King Lear

2524 words - 10 pages “sabotage the prospect” of both closure and recuperation –therefore characterizing Lear’s world as one where the gods are nonexistent, where chaos and tragedy reign. The concept of divine justice, then, is a bleak, unpromising end. Works Cited Dollimore, Jonathan. "King Lear and Essentialist Humanism." William Shakespeare's King Lear. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987. 71-83. Rpt. in Shakespearean Criticism. Ed. Janet Witalec. Vol

plotlear Parallel Plots of Shakespeare's King Lear

1926 words - 8 pages The Parallel Plots of Shakespeare's King Lear          Many works of literature contain parallel plots in which similar actions taken by various characters precipitate identical results.  Upon careful examination, it is evident that “such plots exist in Shakespeare's play King Lear with the deaths of King Lear, Cordelia, Edmund, and Goneril, among others” (Curry 17).  The betrayal of a commitment to an authority figure is the cause behind

Action and Observation in Shakespeare's King Lear

2386 words - 10 pages Action and Observation in King Lear        Auden once asserted that Shakespearean tragedy is necessarily parabolic, pertaining to the only myth that Christianity possesses: that of the 'unrepentant thief'. We as the spectators are thus implicated in the action since each of us 'is in danger of re-enacting [this story] in his own way'.1 The sufferings of the hero could be our own sufferings, whereas in Greek tragedy, such a notion is

The Dysfunctional Family of Shakespeare's King Lear

2868 words - 11 pages The Dysfunctional Family of King Lear        One of the reasons why Shakespeare is so thoroughly read today is because of his ability to portray human nature so accurately through his characters.  Shakespeare's play, King Lear shows us that humans are treacherous and selfish.  We can also relate to the play because of the family issues that Shakespeare incorporates throughout the work.  Lear's family is definitely a dysfunctional one

Comparing Lear and Gloucester in Shakespeare's King Lear

1928 words - 8 pages      In Shakespeare's classic tragedy, King Lear, there are several characters who do not see the reality of their situation. Two such characters are Lear and Gloucester. Both characters exhibit a blindness to the world around them. Lear does not see clearly the truth of his daughters mentions, while Gloucester is also blinded by Edmond's treachery. This failure to see reality leads to Lear's intellectual blindness, which is his insanity, and

King Lear's Transition in Shakespeare's Play, King Lear

1096 words - 4 pages King Lear's Transition in Shakespeare's Play, King Lear In the play King Lear, by William Shakespeare, the main character, Lear, takes the audience through his journey toward his enlightenment. At the beginning of the play Lear appears to be an arrogant man who is too much of the flesh. He associates money and power with love and respect. Thus, when Lear has given all this material possessions to his daughters, Goneril and Regan, he begins

Similar Essays

William Shakespeare's King Lear Essay

1465 words - 6 pages William Shakespeare's King Lear In William Shakespeare’s tragedy, King Lear,the issue of sight on many levels is a recurring theme. Throughout the play Shakespeare shows that sight does not just come from the eyes. It is shown through the characters of Lear, Gloucester and how they compare to each other. Lear’s character is one that never learns what it means to see without ones eyes. Lear’s sight is hazed

William Shakespeare's King Lear Essay

1641 words - 7 pages William Shakespeare's King Lear The locations in Shakespeare’s King Lear fall into three categories: inside a court, out in nature, and in-between nature and civilization. Lear himself also wavers between three states: sanity, senility, and the fine line between the two. These states of consciousness relate directly to the scenes’ locations. However, Lear’s insanity is not the fault of his location in the world; for the most part, he has

Analysis Of Shakespeare's King Lear

1125 words - 5 pages , Shakespeare clearly asserts that human nature is eitherentirely good, or entirely evil. Some characters experience atransformative phase, where by some trial or ordeal their natureis profoundly changed. We shall examine Shakespeare's stand onhuman nature in King Lear by looking at specific characters inthe play: Cordelia who is wholly good, Edmund who is whollyevil, and Lear whose nature is transformed by the realization ofhis folly and his descent into

Paratextuality In Shakespeare's King Lear Essay

3319 words - 13 pages Pitching Mad Boy: How Paratextuality Mediates the Distance Between Spectators, Adaptations, and Source Texts. A popular anecdote used to introduce students and spectators to King Lear tells how, for 150 years, the stage was dominated by Nahum Tate’s adaptation, in which Lear and Cordelia are happily reconciled, and Cordelia is married off to Edgar. Here is what N.H. Hudson had to say about Tate: This shameless, this execrable piece of