King Lear As A Tragic Figure

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King Lear: Shakespeare’s almost Tragic Figure
A tragic figure is often defined as an individual that is of noble birth, such as a king or other member of nobility. The individuals around them always respect them, however, they are often responsible for their own downfall, which will eventually lead to their death. Although the play King Lear can be considered one of William Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, the character King Lear himself, lacks the ability to bring forth feelings of pity within the reader or viewer, thus causing Lear to fall short of also being Shakespeare’s greatest tragic figure. Lear is shown throughout the play as being an egotistical man, and he is seen executing a variety of actions that lead to the reader feeling hate instead of pity, a crucial element that makes a tragic figure.
To begin, King Lear makes the conscious decision to split up his land, but he choses the most egotistical way to decide which of his daughter’s received which piece of land. Near the beginning Lear says, “Which of you shall say we doth love us most,/ that we our largest bounty may extend/ Where nature doth with merit challenge,” (I.i.52-54). This quotation demonstrates how Lear was constantly seeking ways to build his ego, and was looking for reassurance that he was still the best man that he could be. It proves to the reader or viewer that Lear is clearly not in his right mind. Demonstrating that maybe this character cannot be trusted, as a true king would not be likely to enact this type of behaviour. Society has trained most individuals that someone who constantly seeks attention is not an individual that anyone should want to associate with. Lear’s attitudes in regards to giving up his land to his daughter’s show that he ne...

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... crucial trait of a tragic hero.
Overall, while King Lear is able to fit many of the criteria of a tragic figure, such as being arrogant and noble, and also being responsible for his own downfall that leads to his own catastrophic end, he does not execute being a tragic figure well as he is missing the ability to draw pity from those following his story. Through Lear’s careless distribution of land, and the disowning and disrespect of Cordelia, Kent and the fool and the fact that he never understands and is remorseful for the tragedies that he caused, he is unable to become the true tragic figure he could have been. If King Lear had been able to make a change along the way and think about his actions and treatments of people, he would have been able to cause people to feel pity for him, which would have made him William Shakespeare’s greatest tragic figure.
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