Preview
Preview

Essay on King Lear and Madness in the Renaissance

:: 6 Works Cited
Length: 1555 words (4.4 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Blue      
Open Document




- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

King Lear and Madness in the Renaissance

 
      It has been demonstrated that Shakespeare's portrayal of madness parallels Bright's A Treatise of Melancholie (Wilson 309-20), yet, the medical model alone is insufficient to describe the madness of Shakespeare’ s King Lear. Shakespeare was not limited to a single book in his understanding of madness; he had at his disposal the sum total of his society's understanding of the issue. Since Lear's madness is derived from a mixture of sources, it can only be effectively described in this larger context.

            Because much of Renaissance medical theory was based on premises from the Middle Ages, a starting point for our understanding of Lear's madness can be found in the 1535 translation of De Propriatibus Rerum by the thirteenth century monk Batholomaeus Anglicus. This work is based entirely on the traditional model of illness as an imbalance of the four humours: melancholy (or black bile), choler (or yellow bile), blood, and phlegm. Batholomaeus classifies melancholy and madness separately, attributing them to different humours and different areas of the brain (1-4). The condition of melancholy is caused by an excess of the melancholy humour. It makes a person "ferefull without cause, & oft sorry. And that is through the melancholi humor that constreineth & closeth the herte" (2). In extreme cases melancholy causes symptoms quite like madness, "somme fall into evyll suspections without recover: & therfore they hate - blame, and confounde theyr frendes, and sometyme they smyte and slee them" (2). But although Lear could be described as falling into "evyll suspections" he probably does not have melancholy. He is choleric by nature and it is likely that his madness is ...


... middle of paper ...


...ed

1. Bartholomaeus Anglicus. De Proprietatibus Rerum. Qtd. in Hunter 1-4.

2. Bright, Timothy. A Treatise of Melancholie. Hunter 36-37.

3. Byrd, Max. Visits to Bedlam: Madness and Literature in the Eighteenth Century. Columbia: U of South Carolina P, 1974.

4. Hunter, Richard, and Ida MacAlpine, eds. Three Hundred Years of Psychiatry 1535-1860: a History Presented in Selected English Texts. London: Oxford UP, 1963.

5. Johnson, Samuel. "Preface." Johnson on Shakespeare. Ed. R. W. Desai. New Delhi: Orient, 1985.

6. Shakespeare, William. "King Lear." William Shakespeare: the Tragedies, the Poems. Ed. John D. Wilson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1986.

7. Skultans, Vieda. English Madness: Ideas on Insanity, 1580-1890. London: Routledge, 1979.

8. Wilson, J. Dover. What Happens in Hamlet. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1967.

 


Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »







This essay is 100% guaranteed.


Title Length Color Rating  
Shakespeare's Greatness: Much Ado About Nothing, and King Lear Essay - The ability of an author to capture the interest of the audience has and will always be an important factor in the art of storytelling and even the expression of research or related material. When an author is able to seize the attention of any partaking of their work, curiosity will develop which will lead to the wonder of what the conclusion my bring about. Not only is it important to snatch the audience’s attention in the beginning, it is necessary to hold it prisoner throughout the tale. Authors do this by having an interesting plot development in which many unexpected details come into play and the course of the story is thrown from the norm and into the conflict....   [tags: literary analysis, king lear ]
:: 5 Works Cited
1434 words
(4.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Character Analysis: King Lear Essay - The character King Lear represents an allegorical shift from the illiterate, Medieval Age to the literate, Renaissance Age. To illustrate this argument, King Lear needs to be read as a Renaissance play that occurred in a previous “imagined pagan time.” (Lawrence, Gods, 156) As a pagan king, Lear is seen in the realm of the Roman gods and their shame culture. The role of gods in Lear’s decision making are interwoven throughout the play as Lear tries to reconcile his humanity in relation to himself and the other characters, especially Cordelia....   [tags: Character Analysis ]
:: 7 Works Cited
1594 words
(4.6 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on Fate and The Circunstancial Downfall of Character in Oedipus Rex - Circumstantial Downfall Fate and the circumstantial downfall of characters (usually surrounding the protagonist) is a reoccurring theme seen throughout the Eras of theatre (specifically between the plays Oedipus Rex [Greek Theatre] and King Lear [Elizabethan Thatre.]) Fate and falling victim to circumstance is one of the same; fate is just a predetermination made by a higher being (gods,) while circumstance is almost always the result of causation; contrary to the psychological phrase correlation does not imply causation which means that a relation between two variables does not imply that one is the cause of the other....   [tags: sophocles, king lear] 626 words
(1.8 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay on William Shakespeare's Plagiarism of King Lear - Shakespeare's Plagiarism of King Lear     In creating the tragedy play King Lear, William Shakespeare plagiarized many sources in getting the base-line story, but it required his genius and intellect to place them together to create the true tragedy with its multiple plot lines that his play turned out to be in the end. The story of King Lear (or as it started, King Leir) is first seen in literature in the year 1135, contained in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae. Other authors placed King Leir into their stories including; John Higgins in A Mirror for Magistrates (1574), by Warner in Albion's England (1586), by Holinshed in The Second Book of the Historie of England (1577)...   [tags: Biography Biographies Essays]
:: 3 Works Cited
1657 words
(4.7 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay Lear's Character in William Shakespeare's Play - Lear's Character in William Shakespeare's Play The view of Lear being bent on his own destruction from the beginning of the play is an acceptable claim. The way he begins in the play, dividing up his country for his daughters, in essence, this spelt disaster. Unlike other renaissance dramatists, who used ‘mad scenes’ for comic use, Shakespeare seems intent on displaying madness in a more sinister portrayal....   [tags: Papers] 1208 words
(3.5 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on Madness in William Shakespeare's King Lear - Madness in William Shakespeare's King Lear                          In his play, King Lear, Shakespeare introduces many themes.  The most important theme is that of madness, which is portrayed, during the course of this play, by the tragic hero, King Lear.  Though Lear shows great egotism at the beginning of the play, he actually begins to show signs of madness in Acts 3 and 4. In these acts, King Lear is shown spiraling into madness and then eventually regaining his sanity.  Shakespeare develops his madness theme through several phases.  In the first phase, Lear's madness is shown through his strange conversations and the tearing off of his garments; in the second phase, Lear is shown em...   [tags: King Lear essays Shakespeare]
:: 4 Works Cited
977 words
(2.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Insanity and the Necessity of Madness in King Lear Essay - 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 he struggles to maintain confidence in himself. This poses a problem, since the audience is prevented from feeling sympathy for the king....   [tags: King Lear Essays]
:: 10 Works Cited
1871 words
(5.3 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Shakespeare's King Lear’s Descent into Madness: A Psychoanalytical Approach - Many of Shakespeare’s tragedies involve fallen heroes who inevitably have to go through journeys to resolve their issues or complete an ill begotten fate. Shakespeare’s play King Lear is no different. The play highlights the life of a king, his journey into madness, and the events that take place around him that leads up to his death. Several approaches have been taken to analyze and deconstruct the carefully embedded details unfolding King Lear’s demise. Similarly, the focus of this research paper is to take a psychoanalytical approach to analyze King Lear’s decline into madness driven by his daughter’s rejection to be his caretakers....   [tags: Essays on King Lear 2014]
:: 7 Works Cited
2510 words
(7.2 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Free King Lear Essays: The Tragedy of King Lear - Tragedy of King Lear Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth and King Lear are the four most prominent and revered works that William Shakespeare had ever produced, though the first three that I mentioned seem to be recognized as more superior to King Lear.  The opinion of many critics and others who are familiar with the bard’s work, myself included, feel that King Lear is one of, if not, the greatest achievement in William Shakespeare's repertoire.  Many people, however, on the other side of the token, feel that King Lear is not his best play by far which puzzles me as a reader....   [tags: Essays on King Lear] 422 words
(1.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on King Lear - King Lear King Lear of Britain has decided to abdicate his throne. In order to bestow his kingdom between his three daughters; Goneril, Regan and Cordelia he calls them together. His intentions are to split the kingdom between them based on each’s expression of love for him. The two older daughters sweetly talk their way in their father’s heart for sizable kingdoms. Cordelia however, the youngest and Lear’s favorite, sees the sinister motivations of her sisters and tells her father of her deep true feelings....   [tags: King Lear] 396 words
(1.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]