Shakespeare The Portrayal Of Universal Themes In "King Lear"

1304 words - 5 pages

"The Tragedy of King Lear" is a text that has immense textural integrity due to its universal themes and level of craft which is reflected by sophisticated integration of the tragic structure, language and characterisation. When interpreting a play like King Lear critically, one must realise that despite each and every one of our differing contexts the textual integrity of King Lear still remains applicable to a contemporary audience. The relevance of King Lear can be seen through the exploration of the universal themes that makes Lear a timeless literary masterpiece. When interpreting a play like the Tragedy of King Lear the context becomes of fundamental importance as ultimately it is the context that influences our interpretation of the play. Through exploration of universal elements of the human condition one can see how King Lear can be interpreted as a universal metaphor for society making Lear just as relevant and applicable to society today. Whilst fundamental differences between the Elizabethan audience and contemporary society today exist, most notably that the Elizabethan era was a theocentric age while today is a more anthropocentric age this does not negate the universal themes of Lear. Such themes include love, family values and power which still exist in society today. This is why King Lear is still relevant to contemporary society.Furthermore in the opening scene of King Lear the universal theme of love is explored. Shakespeare's exploration of love occurs primarily through the relationship of Lear and his daughters. This exploration or process of wish fulfillment occurs when Lear states "Which of you shall we say doth love us most?" Through a process of wish fulfillment we see how King Lear transfers his need to be loved to his daughters by demanding that they declare publicly love him in front of the court. It is in this way that Shakespeare explores the universal of theme of love and how everyone desires to be loved. It is when Cordelia states "Nothing" immediately followed by Lear stating "Here I disclaim all my paternal care…the barbarous Scythian" we see Lear's new found grief being transferred to Cordelia due to her refusing to acknowledge love for Lear. Subsequently Shakespeare epitomizes this transference by banishing Cordelia from his kingdom. Through the use of imagery and the word 'Scythian' Shakespeare enables the audience to get a true insight into the mind of Lear and his feelings towards Cordelia upon her rejection of him. It is the ability of Shakespeare to use language imagery to communicate feelings and emotions of love, anger and grief that surpass barriers of time that makes Lear a truly timeless play. Through the exploration of love in King Lear Shakespeare demonstrates to society the trials and tribulations that one must overcome in pursuit of love, love being a universal theme which is just as applicable today as it was back in the Elizabethan era. Subsequently this develops, sustains and clarifies...

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