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Transformations In King Lear Essay

1239 words - 5 pages

Through King Lear, what idea(s) does Shakespeare advance regarding the experience of transformation? Regardless of time or place, we are all beings of change. Humanity is not unchanging, people are not static, and our experiences, whether we will them to or not, will always affect us in some way. In the tragedy of King Lear, this very thought is unmistakably apparent, for countless characters undergo transformations. Whether large or small, from Edgar to King Lear, they do so-either because they are literally forced to through a traumatic experience, or because others aid them. Furthermore, regardless of the pain and loss endured, the journey was well worth the taking.And pain each and every one of them will endure. But, perhaps the one, who experiences the most pain, at least physically, is Gloucester. In the beginning of the play, Gloucester is not a character that stirs love or pity in the reader's heart. He is both crude, and unbelievably rude, speaking of his bastard son Edmund as a "whoreson", who must be acknowledged. Furthermore, he is so foolish as to readily believe anything Edmund says. Consequently, he is easily turned against poor Edgar. And when Edmund finally betrays him, and when his eyes are mercilessly torn out by Cornwall, he cries for his son, and is informed of his treachery. Immediately, he understands his own folly, and despairs at it, all the while wishing Edgar well. Ironically of course, he is seeing more clearly blind that he was with both eyes in his head. However, his transformation was not yet fully fledged. In fact, it was only just beginning, for the larger change occurs with Edgar's help. Firstly, he realizes that he took too little care of the "poor, bare, forked animal" that all men truly are. Secondly, he realizes, as Edgar stated that every "life's a miracle", and that he must bear affliction to the bitter end.But, as much as Edgar is wise, he too must experience a transformation. In the beginning of the play, he is both naïve and weak, believing every word his brother says. He does indeed appear to be a "fop", as Edmund says. However, through his experience of being "poor Tom," and witnessing the demise of both Lear and Gloucester, he discovers his brother's plots and his own strength, and uses that strength, courage and fortitude to defeat his evil brother Edmund.Albany too experiences a transformation-for, just as Edgar must stand up to his brother, so too must Albany stand up to his wife Goneril. In the beginning, Albany is a weak, lily-livered man, who cannot stand up to his wife, and is subsequently bullied by her. In the end, he gains the courage to stand up to her, even to the point where he scorns her, stating that she is not worth the dust that the rude wind blows in her face. Moreover, in the very end, we are left with a man who is courageous enough to pick up the pieces of a shattered and chaotic country, and willing to exert the work needed to rebuild it. And although the reader is not...

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