Theme Of Death In King Lear

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No tragedy of Shakespeare moves us more deeply that we can hardly look upon the bitter ending than King Lear. Though, in reality, Lear is far from like us. He himself is not an everyday man but a powerful king. Could it be that recognize in Lear the matter of dying? Each of us is, in some sense, a king who must eventually give up his kingdom. To illustrate the process of dying, Shakespeare has given Lear a picture of old age in great detail. Lear’s habit to slip out of a conversation (Shakespeare I. v. 19-33), his brash banishment of his most beloved and honest daughter, and his bitter resentment towards his own loss of function and control, highlighted as he ironically curses Goneril specifically on her functions of youth and prays that her…show more content…
ii. 48-50). Death, violence, and loss are woven all throughout the language, and in doing so, the physicality of such matters dominate the metaphorical world of the play. Perhaps the most tragic event in the play, the death of Cordelia allows the fullest expression of the tragedy’s address to personal morality. Like the other two daughters, Cordelia is an extension of Lear. Thus her death is an aspect of his own, allowing Lear to experience death and speak to the wrongness of it all. “No, no, no life! Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, and thou no breath at all? (Shakespeare V. ii. 306-308).” Both unnatural and inevitable, the unjust death of Cordelia embodies our sense that death is wrong and outrageous. Most of us are not kings, but it may be true that in each of us is a King Lear who is unwilling to give our kingdom, our sense of privilege, our rights we think we have earned. We expect to cling on to our existence, and pretend death does not exist. As we continue to explore the psychology behind death, we find, as we so often do, that Shakespeare has been there before…show more content…
In acceptance of helplessness, the characters ironically experience growth, joy, and hope. If the world of Lear is chaotic, painful, and alien, it also stimulates growth. The king with no kingdom discovers the superficial authority that was his kingship, and understood “They flatter’d me like a dog...they told me I was everything. ‘Tis a lie” (Shakespeare IV. vi. 96-105). When Lear had finally accepted his inability to change a situation, he looks upon his life with a new-found wisdom. Lear’s progress to acceptance is also marked by the shift of dependence from evil children to good, from Regan and Goneril to Cordelia. The schematic character groupings of good and evil invites us to see the children on a metaphorically level of shifting stages. When Lear is reunited with Cordelia, though he is faced with impending death, he blissfully proclaims “Come, let’s away to prison...so we’ll live / And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh / At gilded butterflies” (Shakespeare V. iii. 8-19). Lear is, for the first time in the play, truly happy. The King beautifully expresses an idea of acceptance against uncontrollable forces. The prison that Lear speaks of is not a literal one, but rather his response to the approaching end of his life, as it should be for all of us, to pray, to sing, to tell tales, to laugh, to be above the battle of life. Similarity, Gloucester,
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