Powerful Animal Imagery in King Lear Essay

Powerful Animal Imagery in King Lear Essay

Length: 1154 words (3.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

In King Lear. Shakespeare uses imagery of great imaginative depth and resonance to convey his major themes and to heighten the readers experience of the play. There are some predominant image patterns.

In my opinion, it is the imagery of animals and savage monsters that leave the most lasting impression. The imagination is filled with pictures of wild and menacing creatures, ravenous in their appetites, cruel in their instincts. The underlying emphasis in such imagery is on the vileness of which humanity is capable. It is often used in connection with Goneril and Regan. Throughout the play, the sisters are compared unfavourably to animals and monsters. Lear often uses animal and monster metaphors when describing his daughters' cruelness and heartlessness. He calls Goneril a "marble-hearted fiend" and says that her ingratitude is more hideous than that of a sea-monster. Lear says that the pain of ingratitude is "sharper than a serpent's tooth". he returns to this image later, telling Regan that her sister "struck me with her tongue,/Most serpent-like". Before Lear exits into the storm, he says that he would rather "be a comrade with the wolf and owl" than return to Goneril. The reader is now beginning to see the true hatred towards his evil daughters.

Poor Tom uses animals as emblems of the Seven Deadly Sins, "hog in sloth, fox in stealth, wolf in greediness". The very nature of man himself is defined by Lear in terms of animal imagery as he looks at the naked Tom disguised as a Bedlam beggar: "Is man no more than this? Consider him well. Thou ow'st the worm no silk; the beast, no hide; the sheep, no wool; the cat, no perfume; Ha? Here's three on's are sophisticated. Thou art the thing itself; un-accommodated man is no more...


... middle of paper ...


...d as they and as ill-clad to face the elements. The emphasis on the nakedness of both Lear and Edgar allows the reader to fully understand the king's vulnerability. We also learn that the king has realised that he is no more than a normal human being like the rest of society. He is no longer above anyone and can therefore make his great speech of compassion without condescension: "Poor naked wretches where so'er you are/ That bide the pelting of the pitiless storm,/ How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides/ Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you/ From seasons such as these".

In conclusion, I found the powerful imagery surrounding animals, violence and clothing to add to the affect of the play on the reader. The many images allowed the reader to visualise the horrible, detailed scenes and gave the reader a better understanding of the play King Lear.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Essay on Biblical Imagery in King Lear

- Biblical Imagery in Lear Had King Lear been exposed to Christian Scriptures, he may have learned the folly of his prideful demand that his daughters vocally profess their love.  The Scriptures clearly state that "if any tried to by love with their wealth, contempt is all they would get." (Sg 8:7) Of course, had King Lear read and abided by the Scriptures, we would be wanting of a great work of literature.             Lear's situation closely fits the passage from the Song of Songs....   [tags: King Lear essays]

Strong Essays
933 words (2.7 pages)

An Examination of the Significance of the Fool in King Lear Essay

- An Examination of the Significance of the Fool in King Lear A Fool is used in plays as a professional jester or clown whose function it was to amuse the king and his followers by his jokes and witty remarks. The Fool enjoyed the freedom to speak on any subject and to comment on persons and events without any restraint. The Fool’s function was purely to provide entertainment and to amuse people. Shakespeare’s objective in introducing the fool in King Lear is to provide comic relief in the play where the events are very tragic and oppressing....   [tags: Papers]

Strong Essays
2150 words (6.1 pages)

Essay on Imagery in King Lear

- Imagery in King Lear             In the immense amount of writing that William Shakespeare had done in his career as a playwright and or writer in general there are bound to be some consistencies and reoccurring themes that make his writing so popular and interesting.  In many cases it is hard to tell whether the thematic structure that many writers follow is intentional or not, but it is possible that there is a reasoning for a specific kind of imagery that a writer likes to outline his/her writing after....   [tags: King Lear essays]

Strong Essays
776 words (2.2 pages)

Representations of Nature in King Lear Essay

- We are lucky, today, that the majority of the world’s nations are democracies. This has only been the case in very recent times. For the greater part of human history, society has subscribed to the belief that birth is the most important determinant of one’s future. In Elizabethan England, this was especially true. Those born into the nobility enjoyed a lifetime of privilege, while those born outside of their ranks mainly existed to serve them. A century later, the British encountered an even stricter form of this belief when they conquered India....   [tags: Representations of Nature in King Lear]

Strong Essays
856 words (2.4 pages)

King Lear's Transition in Shakespeare's Play, King Lear Essay

- King Lear's Transition in Shakespeare's Play, King Lear In the play King Lear, by William Shakespeare, the main character, Lear, takes the audience through his journey toward his enlightenment. At the beginning of the play Lear appears to be an arrogant man who is too much of the flesh. He associates money and power with love and respect. Thus, when Lear has given all this material possessions to his daughters, Goneril and Regan, he begins his long journey of self discovery. Through an analysis of two passages, one can see the transition of Lear from a man blinded by the flesh to a caring and compassionate madman that sees the truth....   [tags: King Lear Essays]

Strong Essays
1079 words (3.1 pages)

Shakespeare's King Lear - Suffering of Cordelia in King Lear Essay

- The tragedy of Shakespeare’s King Lear is made far more tragic and painful by the presence and suffering of the king's youngest daughter, Cordelia. While our sympathy for the king is somewhat restrained by his brutal cruelty towards others, there is nothing to dampen our emotional response to Cordelia's suffering. Nothing, that is, at first glance. Harley Granville-Barker justifies her irreconcilable fate thus: "the tragic truth about life to the Shakespeare that wrote King Lear... includes its capricious cruelty....   [tags: King Lear essays]

Strong Essays
1509 words (4.3 pages)

An Overview of Shakespeare's King Lear Essay

- An Overview of King Lear I chose King Lear as the classic tragedy to analyze. Famous for its difficult plot and its intriguing themes of family, loyalty, madness, and community, it is rich with ideas to pursue. Arrogant, powerful, and sure of himself, Lear decides to retire and pits his three daughters against one another for the choicest pieces of his realm: they must outdo one another in professing their love for him. Two sneaky daughters (Regan and Goneril) compete as directed, and the third, Cordelia, states simply that she loves him according to her bond, no more nor less (I.1.97-99)....   [tags: King Lear Essays]

Free Essays
894 words (2.6 pages)

Essay on Effective Foreshadowing in King Lear

- Effective Foreshadowing in King Lear   The first scene of a play usually sets up the basic themes and situations that the remainder will work with. In Shakespeare’s play King Lear, the very first scene presents many of the play's basic themes and images. The recurrent imagery of human senses and of "nothing," the distortion of familial and social ties, the gradual dissolution of Lear's kingship, all make their first appearances in the first lines of Shakespeare's play.             Much of the imagery in King Lear's first scene presages what is to come in the play....   [tags: King Lear essays]

Free Essays
1138 words (3.3 pages)

Metamorphosis of King Lear Essay examples

- Metamorphosis of King Lear Through the course of the play, King Lear goes through a process of attaining self-knowledge. With this knowledge, he goes through a metamorphosis of person, much like a caterpillar's change into a butterfly. In the beginning, King Lear's vanity, and the image and exercise of power dominate his person. But a series of losses (based on his own bad decisions), a wise "fool", a powerful storm, a seemingly crazy man, and the death of one who truly loved him clear his vision and allow him to see himself and the world as they truly are....   [tags: Shakespeare, King Lear]

Free Essays
1394 words (4 pages)

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]

Free Essays
396 words (1.1 pages)