At the beginning of “King Lear,” an authoritative and willful protagonist dominates his court, making a fateful decision by rewarding his two treacherous daughters and banishing his faithful one in an effort to preserve his own pride. However, it becomes evident during the course of the tragedy that this protagonist, Lear, uses his power only as a means of projecting a persona, which he hides behind as he struggles to maintain confidence in himself. This poses a problem, since the audience is prevented from feeling sympathy for the king. Shakespeare’s ironic solution is to allow Lear’s progressing madness to be paired with his recognition of truth, thereby forcing Lear to shed his persona, and simultaneously persuading the audience that Lear is worthy of pity.
Lear is initially consumed by what Burton would refer to as the human appetite, and exhibits traits indicative of someone dominated by the choleric humor: he is prideful, yearns for authority, and bullies others when he doesn’t get his way. After Cordelia refuses to dote on him in the first scene, he goes into a fit of rage:
Let it be so; the truth then be thy dower…
Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
Propinquity and property of blood,
And as a stranger to my heart and me
Hold thee from this for ever.
(I, i, 110-118) 
Lear’s fury, however, only masks the fact that he is really a very needy person, consumed by an insatiable appetite for power and attention. As Bloom says, “Lear always demands more love than can be given.” Lear proves this to be true when he repeatedly rejects those who love him most, banishing both Cordelia and Kent, who would protect him from his other two daughters’ impending betrayal. D...
... middle of paper ...
...say (Trans.). The Republic of Plato: The Wisdom of Socrates as Recounted by His Pupil Plato. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1957. p.171.
6-Bloom, p. 482.
7-James Hutton (Trans.). Aristotle’s Poetics. New York: Norton & Company, Inc., 1982. p. 51.
8- Bruccoli, Clark, Layman “Aristotle,” in Bood, (ed.). Dictionary of Literary Biography: Ancient Greek Authors. Vol. 176 (1997), pp. 55-76.
9-Wilson Knight. “The Lear Universe” in The Wheel of Fire. London: Oxford University Press, 1930. p. 201
10- A.C. Bradley. Shakespearean Tragedy. London: Macmillan & Co. Ltd., 1961. p. 239.
11- Knight, p. 203.
12-William Shakespeare. As You Like It. New York: Signet Classic, 1998. p. 44.
13- T.S. Eliot. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Vol. II (New York, WW.Norton, 19860. pp. 2174 ff.
14-Bradley, p. 242.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- 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]
977 words (2.8 pages)
- Tragedy of King Lear Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth and King Lear are the four most prominent and revered works that William Shakespeare had ever produced, though the first three that I mentioned seem to be recognized as more superior to King Lear. The opinion of many critics and others who are familiar with the bard’s work, myself included, feel that King Lear is one of, if not, the greatest achievement in William Shakespeare's repertoire. Many people, however, on the other side of the token, feel that King Lear is not his best play by far which puzzles me as a reader.... [tags: Essays on King Lear]
422 words (1.2 pages)
- Many of Shakespeare’s tragedies involve fallen heroes who inevitably have to go through journeys to resolve their issues or complete an ill begotten fate. Shakespeare’s play King Lear is no different. The play highlights the life of a king, his journey into madness, and the events that take place around him that leads up to his death. Several approaches have been taken to analyze and deconstruct the carefully embedded details unfolding King Lear’s demise. Similarly, the focus of this research paper is to take a psychoanalytical approach to analyze King Lear’s decline into madness driven by his daughter’s rejection to be his caretakers.... [tags: Essays on King Lear 2014]
2510 words (7.2 pages)
- The Reinvention of King Lear On any given night within the global theatre community, chances are good that somewhere upon a stage there is at least one production of a Shakespearean play being performed, and whether it is Hamlet set in Nazi Germany (Eine Klein Hamlet) or The Tempest reworked as children's theatre (The Island of Anyplace), this production is, more often than not, a new interpretation of the ancient text. While the average audience member may never have heard of modern masters like Albee, Beckett, or Chekov, no matter their station in life or how far away that we get from the Elizabethan era, they have heard of William Shakespeare.... [tags: King Lear essays]
2079 words (5.9 pages)
- 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]
1855 words (5.3 pages)
- King Lear: Facing the Consequences Shakespeare's tragedy King Lear is a detailed description of the consequences of one man's decisions. This fictitious man is Lear, King of England, whose decisions greatly alter his life and the lives of those around him. As Lear bears the status of King, he is, as one expects, a man of great power. But, sinfully, he surrenders all of this power to two of his daughters, as a reward for their demonstration of love towards him. This untimely abdication of his throne results in a chain reaction of events that sends him on a journey toward Hell, in order to expiate his sin.... [tags: King Lear essays]
987 words (2.8 pages)
- Prologue to King Lear - The Enigma of Shakespeare Only a small percentage of the plays (some seven hundred) written during the Golden Age of Elizabethan drama (1590-1610) survive into print (Nolan 30). Popular drama in the 1580s existed as no more than the street professions of clowns and jugglers performing the occasional dramatic interlude (Nolan 35). As with the "bohemian" and "hippie" youth movements in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other American cities during the sixties, bands of reckless youth with working-class and college educations invaded the London urban underworld and street culture in the latter half of the sixteenth century, living mostly by their ow... [tags: King Lear essays]
1092 words (3.1 pages)
- The Fools in King Lear William Shakespeare's play King Lear tells the tale of the main character who divides his kingdom between his older daughters, Goeneril and Regan, and disinherits his youngest daughter, Cordelia. The action leads to civil strife, his insanity, and his ultimate death. King Lear can be viewed as a great illustration about the struggle between good and evil. Perhaps better than any of Shakespeare's other tragedies, King Lear displays the concept of evil most strongly.... [tags: King Lear essays]
880 words (2.5 pages)
- Importance of the Fool in King Lear William Shakespeare's genius came from how closely he intertwined the two seemingly mutually exclusive realms to appeal to all socio-economic groups in his audience. The character of the Fool provides the closest intercourse of the two realms between King Lear's royalty and Poor Tom's poverty, while still maintaining their separation. The Fool's role in King Lear was to counteract the King's follies in order to bring him to his senses. With his honesty, wit, and clever wordplay that interweave foreshadowing and practical advice, the Fool entertains not only the King, but the audience as well, and brings some light and humour into this tragedy.... [tags: King Lear essays]
1192 words (3.4 pages)
- Motiff of King Lear One of the primary themes portrayed in "King Lear" is the harsh effects of betrayal by one's loved ones. Incorporated in this message is the fact that such betrayal can be avoided with sound judgment and temper, and with patience in all decisions. Shakespeare uses the motif of madness to aid in this message. Anger and insanity are coupled to illustrate the theme, and they both cloud the judgment of characters in various ways. A contrast between actual insanity and fabricated madness aids in the depiction of the main theme as well.... [tags: English Literature Essays]
649 words (1.9 pages)