Tragic Figures - Good/Evil in King Lear King Lear, by William Shakespeare, is a tragic tale of filial conflict, personal transformation, and loss. The story revolves around the King who foolishly alienates his only truly devoted daughter and realizes too late the true nature of his other two daughters. A major subplot involves the illegitimate son of Gloucester, Edmund, who plans to discredit his brother Edgar and betray their father. With these and other major characters in the play, Shakespeare clearly asserts that human nature is either entirely good, or entirely evil.
Shakespeare, William, Stephen Greenblatt, Walter Cohen, Jean E. Howard, Katharine Eisaman Maus, and Andrew Gurr. The Norton Shakespeare. Second ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 1997. Print.
Shakespeare, William. King Lear. 1608. Ed. Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. New York: Washington Square Press, 1993.
1-William Shakespeare. King Lear edited by Russle Fraser.(New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., 1982). All future references will come from this text.
Enter King Lear, a tale of an old king who must come to terms with his mortality after being pitifully abandoned by his own two daughters. Shakespeare skillfully crafts the values of the mortality of humanity straight into the play at the expense of the pain and suffering experienced by two of the characters: King Lear and the Earl of Gloucester. Both Lear and Gloucester struggle to see the true nature of the situation surrounding them, especially the malicious intentions of their own children. We feel the pain, confusion, and frustration of the two characters as struggle to face reality. Exacerbated by their blindness, Lear's and Gloucester's mistakes are powerfully exposed as Shakespeare strips these esteemed characters of their status, reducing them to what they truly are - human.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of King Lear. Vol. Vol. 46. PSU- Hazleton, Hazleton, PA 18202: Electronic Classics Series, n.d. Print. Part 3 of 51.
Cohen, Walter, J.E. Howard, K. Eisaman Maus. The Norton Shakespeare. Vol. 2 Stephen Greenblatt, General Editor. New York, London. 2008. ISBN 978-0-393-92991-1