The Dysfunctional Family of Shakespeare's King Lear Essay

The Dysfunctional Family of Shakespeare's King Lear Essay

Length: 2580 words (7.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Dysfunctional Family of King Lear

 
     One of the reasons why Shakespeare is so thoroughly read today is because of his ability to portray human nature so accurately through his characters.  Shakespeare's play, King Lear shows us that humans are treacherous and selfish.  We can also relate to the play because of the family issues that Shakespeare incorporates throughout the work.  Lear's family is definitely a dysfunctional one.  However, the disrupted family unit is the basis for the play's tragedy.  The Contemporary Guide to Literary Terms defines tragedy as "a piece of writing that inspires fear or pity, through which the audience/reader experiences catharsis" (a purging of emotions).  Tragic plots should have a clear beginning, middle and end that all involve the protagonist in some way.  It is essential in this play for King Lear to have serious family problems in order for him to become a tragic hero.  The whole premise of the plot is based on his conniving daughters (with help from Lear's ego).  These family problems turn Lear into a tragic hero.  Much the same could be said about Gloucester, which will also be examined in this paper. 

 

It is universally agreed that the primary source for the story of King Lear and his daughters was the anonymous earlier play known as The True Chronicle History of King Leir (usually abbreviated to King Leir or just Leir), which was not published until 1605 but was probably performed in 1594 or earlier (Thompson, 13).  Shakespeare's King Lear is a detailed description of the consequences of one's man actions, and the behavior of his family.  Lear is the king of England in this play, who decides to distribute his kingdom amongst his three daughters...


... middle of paper ...


...otagonist in the work who suffers great emotional and physical pain, which the reader/audience can identify and sympathize with.  This hero must also suffer and/or die, which is unacceptable but inevitable.  King Lear is such a hero, the result of both egocentrism and family problems.      

    

Works Cited

Frey, C.  Experiencing Shakespeare.  Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1988.

Granville-Barker, H.  Prefaces to Shakespeare.  London: B.T. Batsford INC, 1984.

Halio, J.  The Tragedy of King Lear.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Kimbrough, R.  Shakespeare and the Art of Human Kindness.  NJ: Humanities Press

    International, 1990.

Thompson, A.  King Lear Criticism.  NJ: Humanities Press International, 1988.

Vickers, B.  Appropriating Shakespeare.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993.

 

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Essay on The Dysfunctional Family of King Lear

- The Dysfunctional Family of King Lear   In his tragedy King Lear, William Shakespeare presents two families: a family consisting of a father and his three daughters, and a family consisting of a father and his two sons, one of which is a bastard son. While he has the sons basically come out and admit that one of them is good and the other evil, the Bard chooses to have the feelings of the daughters appear more subtlely. At no point in King Lear does Shakespeare come out and blatantly tell his audience that Cordelia is the most caring and loving daughter, while her two sisters are uncaring and greedy, and love their father only when they stand to gain from it....   [tags: King Lear essays]

Powerful Essays
1629 words (4.7 pages)

Essay on King Lear and a Brave New World: Similar Themes and Motifs

- In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New world and William Shakespeare's King Lear, the reader will find that both works use similar motifs that mirror each other to increase further the similarities and significance of the works. The Brave new world tries to destroy any of human emotion, which is why Huxley has chooses Shakespeare as the basis of John's system of beliefs involved in personal connection. Although the story lines in both of the publications are quite different from one another, there is no doubt that there are themes that allow one to create a comparison between the two books....   [tags: King Lear, Brave New World, ]

Powerful Essays
786 words (2.2 pages)

William Shakespeare's King Lear Essay

- William Shakespeare's King Lear "A man more sinned against than sinning" King Lear is one of Shakespeare's more complex plays and within it many different themes are addressed and explored. King Lear is the somewhat unfortunate vehicle that Shakespeare uses to explore many of these themes creating a complex character including the roles of a father, king, friend and adversary....   [tags: William Shakespeare King Lear]

Powerful Essays
1855 words (5.3 pages)

The Selfish King in Shakespeare's King Lear Essay

- The Selfish King in Shakespeare's King Lear In Shakespeare's King Lear a king is stripped of his land, wealth, soldiers, and all of his power because he is stubborn, egocentric, and unkind. Other than losing money and power he loses his three daughters as well. Lear?s pride is so overwhelming that he is unwilling to allow anyone to contradict him. If anyone (besides his fool) even remotely hints that his actions were wrong he gets unnecessarily enraged....   [tags: King Lear William Shakespeare Tragedies]

Powerful Essays
1012 words (2.9 pages)

Lessons in King Lear by William Shakespeare Essay

- Lessons in King Lear by William Shakespeare Satisfying, hopeful, and redemptive: some critics would say that these adjectives belong nowhere near a description of King Lear. One critic, Thomas Roche, even states that the play’s ending is “as bleak and unrewarding as man can reach outside the gates of hell” (164). Certainly, Roche’s pessimistic interpretation has merit; after all, Lear has seen nearly everyone he once cared for die before dying himself. Although this aspect of the play is true, agreeing with this negative view requires a person to believe that Lear learns nothing and that he suffers and dies in vain....   [tags: King Lear Shakespeare Essays]

Powerful Essays
3490 words (10 pages)

Essay on Madness in William Shakespeare's King Lear

- Madness in William Shakespeare's King Lear                          In his play, King Lear, Shakespeare introduces many themes.  The most important theme is that of madness, which is portrayed, during the course of this play, by the tragic hero, King Lear.  Though Lear shows great egotism at the beginning of the play, he actually begins to show signs of madness in Acts 3 and 4. In these acts, King Lear is shown spiraling into madness and then eventually regaining his sanity.  Shakespeare develops his madness theme through several phases.  In the first phase, Lear's madness is shown through his strange conversations and the tearing off of his garments; in the second phase, Lear is shown em...   [tags: King Lear essays Shakespeare]

Powerful Essays
977 words (2.8 pages)

Essay on William Shakespeare's King Lear

- William Shakespeare's King Lear The locations in Shakespeare’s King Lear fall into three categories: inside a court, out in nature, and in-between nature and civilization. Lear himself also wavers between three states: sanity, senility, and the fine line between the two. These states of consciousness relate directly to the scenes’ locations. However, Lear’s insanity is not the fault of his location in the world; for the most part, he has control over his situation. The series of events in correspondence with the location show that man must acknowledge the nature he originated from and live in the civilized world, but not abandon nature all together because too much control or chaos leads t...   [tags: Shakespeare Play King Lear Essays]

Powerful Essays
1567 words (4.5 pages)

Importance of Nothing in Shakespeare's King Lear Essay examples

- Importance of Nothing in William Shakespeare's King Lear   The Tragedy of King Lear has many important themes. One major theme concerns "nothing." The main focus around the discussion of "nothing" is that "nothing" is a many things. Nothing is what binds everything. The first mention of "nothing" is when King Lear asks his daughters to profess how much they love him. The eldest daughters shower compliments upon him tickling his ears. Yet the Lear's favorite daughter Cordelia will only speak the truth....   [tags: King Lear essays William Shakespeare]

Powerful Essays
588 words (1.7 pages)

Actions of Goneril in Shakespeare's King Lear Essay example

- Actions of Goneril in Shakespeare's King Lear Whenever the issue of power allocation arises, there usually emerge a few individuals who, given only a moderate amount of authority, overstep their bounds to exert more dominance than they rightfully own; such is the case with Goneril. Yet, although Goneril certainly errs in betraying the very father that bestowed a large dominion upon her, King Lear deserves much of the blame for Goneril's haughtiness. After grossly misinterpreting the reticence of his heretofore prized daughter Cordelia, Lear divides his kingdom between the mendacious Goneril and the scheming Regan, thereby leaving the fate of the land at their unskilled mercies....   [tags: Shakespeare King Lear Goneril Essays]

Powerful Essays
598 words (1.7 pages)

Justice in William Shakespeare's King Lear Essay

- Justice in William Shakespeare's King Lear The question of the origin of true, virtuous, and impartial justice has plagued mankind over the millennia and continues to do so today. In Shakespeare’s King Lear two potential forms of justice predominate: human examination through trial and divine supernatural recourse. Both systems emerge fundamentally flawed in practice, however, and by the end of the play a world of unjust chaos reigns supreme. Over the course of three “trials,” Lear’s daughters competing for his love, the blinding of Gloucester by Cornwall and Regan, and Lear’s imagined cross-examination of Goneril and Regan, Shakespeare strikingly illustrates the concept that human justice...   [tags: William Shakespeare King Lear Essays]

Powerful Essays
1040 words (3 pages)