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.
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.
Although King Lear, by William Shakespeare, is a tragic tale; the main character, King Lear, does not posses all the required qualities of a tragic hero. Lear fails to face his death with courage or honor, which causes the audience to feel apathetic to him. This makes Lear a tragic character but not a tragic hero. Shakespeare makes Lear’s lacking qualities more apparent by Cordelia, a true tragic hero. In comparison with tragic heroes found in Shakespeare’s plays, Shakespeare makes King Lear’s death brief. After Lear rambles his last line, Shakespeare ends his life with the line “(He dies)” (5. 3. 375) without an explanation. Even in his death, Lear never accepts his responsibility in his own trady. Instead, he blames his misfortunes on his
William Shakespeare’s infamous Tragedy of King Lear is as much about political authority as family dynamic. Although regarded as one of the most emotionally difficult, and portrays a world lacking of love, in which humanity is detached from any spiritual, higher being, there is still glimmers of goodness that can be discovered. While other discussions of King Lear focus on the bleakness and despair of the environment as well as the characters, especially Lear, it is arguable that this play is not an exemplification of a work lacking in morals, but of the reenchantment of charity, especially forgiveness as a pushback against the violence. Through this reading, a considerable amount of credit is given to Cordelia, and the powerful emotional impact she provides.
One might think of a tragedy being a terrible and destructible event in one’s life that causes great pain and may contain great loss. One particular play written by William Shakespeare – one of the most well known poets in history, happens to be a tragedy-filled story. Othello, the Moor of Venice, set during the captivating renaissance era portrays a character named Othello who reveals characteristics of a tragic hero. The brilliant philosopher Aristotle from the fourth century B.C. developed his own definition and idea of what a tragic hero is. Eric Engle, author of “Aristotle, Law and Justice: The Tragic Hero,” said, Due to Aristotle’s influence, his tragic flaw has distorted western thought ever since its conception” (Engle). “The enquiry of whether Othello is a true tragic hero is debatable. Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero was a protagonist who is socially superior to others, but then has a downfall due to a “tragic flaw,” typically caused by the character’s solitary weakness. Due to Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero, Othello possesses the qualities from his definition that fulfill the role of being a tragic hero.
King Lear is one of William Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies which involves a common story of three daughters vying for the love of their father. Jane Smiley parallels the story of King Lear in her novel A Thousand Acres. Though this novel is derived from the roots of King Lear and the basic plot is similar, the reader’s reaction to each work of literature varies greatly. One may wonder why the reader’s perspective on the play King Lear changes so drastically after reading the novel A Thousand Acres. A couple of the reasons include the pieces of literature being told from two different view points and how the paralleling characters in the two works assume roles than are unexpected and seem unlike the comparable characters in the other piece of literature.
“We are only puppets, our strings are being pulled by unknown forces.”~ Georg Buchner A tragedy is a drama or literary work in which the main character is brought to ruin or suffers extreme sorrow, especially as a consequence of a tragic flaw, moral weakness, or inability to cope with unfavorable circumstances. The play Macbeth is a tragedy because Macbeth allowed himself to be driven by his ambitions and unknowingly have his destiny manipulated by both those who he held dear as well as by his own enemies in disguise.
Lear is a character that is labelled as rash and impulsive due to actions to banish his truthful daughter, Cordelia, and giving all he owns to her materialistic sisters, Goneril and Regan. To begin with, Lear initially asks his daughters “Which of us shall we say doth love us most?” (1.1.52) in order to divide up his wealth and kingdom amongst them. This shows Lear’s insecurity toward others feeling towards him and that he needs to be constantly reminded of his power and status. This is a weakness that Goneril and Regan are able to use to their advantage by flattering lies and untruthful feelings in attempt to attain a larger portion of the kingdom, which in turn means they would be more powerful. Cordelia, on the other hand, is not able to “heave [her] heart into [her] mouth” (1.1.94) like her sisters are doing. She is completely honest and truthful with her father which in turn does not please him. Moreover, by exploiting Lear’s weakness, Goneril and Regan are able to manipulate Lear into believing the flattery and fake feelings they express towards him. Therefore, when he is struck with Cordelia’s answer of “Nothing, my lord” (1.1.89), he acts impulsively by disowning and banish...
After Kent delightfully brings the two together and Lear realizes who he is talking to, he begs for forgiveness: “Pray, do not mock me. / I am a very foolish fond old man, / Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less /....Do not laugh at me, / For as I am a man, I think this lady / To be my child Cordelia.“ (IV.vii.68-79). Lear has finally achieved self-awareness regarding his mistaken banishment of Cordelia, and proclaims to her in a surprising display of humility that he is just a “foolish fond old man.” Shocking the audience, Lear does not hold back his newfound sense of shame. He goes on: “Be your tears wet? Yes, faith. I pray, weep not. If you have poison for me, I will drink it. I know you do not love me, for your sisters Have, as I do remember, done me wrong. You have some cause; they have not.” (IV.vii.81-85). In another case of both humility and misjudgment, Lear believes that Cordelia no longer loves him due to his mistakes. Lear could not be more wrong because Cordelia 's love for her father is unconditional and still lives. Cordelia virtuously accepts his apology and assures him “No, sir, you must not kneel,” (IV.vii.67). Although the two do not live much longer, Lear intends to live out the rest of their lives being the best a father can
Right from the beginning of the play Lear shows sings of insanity. Dividing up his kingdom, for the reasons he stated, may seem to be a wise thing to do. Not trusting Cordelia, however, is a sing of insanity, as she is the only daughter who truly loved him. The fool, throughout the entire time he is i...