Essay on Transformation of Lear in Shakespeare's King Lear

Essay on Transformation of Lear in Shakespeare's King Lear

Length: 1682 words (4.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

King Lear is a Shakespearian tragedy revolving largely around one central theme, personal transformation. Shakespeare shows in King Lear that the main characters of the play experience a transformative phase, where they are greatly changed through their suffering. Through the course of the play Lear is the most transformed of all the characters. He goes through seven major stages of transformation on his way to becoming an omniscient character: resentment, regret, recognition, acceptance and admittance, guilt, redemption, and optimism. Shakespeare identifies King Lear as a contemptuous human being who is purified through his suffering into some sort of god.
The first stage of Lear’s transformation is resentment. At the start of the play it is made quite clear that Lear is a proud, impulsive, hot-tempered old man. He is so self-centered that he simply cannot fathom being criticized. The strength of Lear’s ego becomes evident in the brutal images with which he expresses his anger towards Cordelia: “The barbarous Scythian,/Or he that makes his generation messes/To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom/Be as well neighboured, pitied, and relieved,/As thou may sometime daughter.” (1.1.118-122). The powerful language that Lear uses to describe his intense hatred towards Cordelia is so incommensurable to the cause, that there can be only one explanation: Lear is so passionately wrapped up in his own particular self-image, that he simply cannot comprehend any viewpoint (regarding himself) that differs from his own (no matter how politely framed). It is this anger and resentment that sets Lear’s suffering and ultimate purification in motion.
Lear’s feelings of resentment eventually transform into feelings of regret when he believes he...


... middle of paper ...


...he can no longer live in the natural world, he must live among the gods.
This new Lear is certainly a far cry from the arrogant king we saw at the beginning of the play. Shakespeare has transformed Lear from an ignorant old king into some sort of god, using a seven stage process: resentment, regret, recognition, acceptance and admittance, guilt, redemption, and optimism. Lear’s transformation can be simply described as a transition from blindness into sight, he did not see the value in listening to others, but in the end he gained a sense of optimism and idealism. There is no doubting that Shakespeare has portrayed Lear as a flawed figure, who, through his misfortune and suffering, goes from a contemptuous human being to one who has been purified into an omniscient, godly type character, proving that ignorant people can truly change to become caring individuals.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Essay on King Lear By William Shakespeare

- King Lear by William Shakespeare, and A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley are both fantastic tragedies that follow a similar story arc. Although King Lear was written in 1606, and A Thousand Acres was written in 1999, they contain the same essential elements of a tragedy. Jane Smiley modeled her novel after King Lear, focusing less on Lear’s story, and more on the daughters’ stories. The story-line of both is extremely similar: a father chooses to divide his land amongst his daughters, and everything following that is a disaster....   [tags: King Lear, William Shakespeare, A Thousand Acres]

Powerful Essays
1491 words (4.3 pages)

Essay on Tragic Figures in King Lear by William Shakespeare

- 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.  Some characters experience a transformative phase, where, by some trial or ordeal, their nature is profoun...   [tags: King Lear essays]

Powerful Essays
1336 words (3.8 pages)

King Lear, by Shakespeare Essay

- It is often said “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and Shakespeare himself seems to agree with this old adage. In his tragedy King Lear he has many of his main characters go through an experience that takes them far out of their comfort zone to change them for the better. Throughout King Lear Shakespeare shows that man cannot be morally strong without over coming suffering. At the beginning of the play King Lear is an old, foolish man. He is blind to the traitors all around him....   [tags: King Lear Essays]

Powerful Essays
1000 words (2.9 pages)

King Lear By William Shakespeare And A Thousand Acres Essay example

- King Lear by William Shakespeare and A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley are both fantastic tragedies that follow a similar story arc. Although King Lear was written in 1606, and A Thousand Acres was written in 1999, they contain the same essential elements of a tragedy. Jane Smiley modeled her novel after King Lear, focusing less on Lear’s story, and more on the daughters’ stories. Both story-lines are extremely similar: a father chooses to divide his land amongst his daughters, and everything following that becomes a disaster....   [tags: King Lear, William Shakespeare, A Thousand Acres]

Powerful Essays
1461 words (4.2 pages)

Shakespeare 's King Lear - Role Of Female Empowerment Essay

- Role of Female Empowerment in King Lear During the Elizabethan Era, women were oppressed to men and had no authority and power to make their own decisions. This idealistic view of gender is defied in William Shakespeare’s well-known tragedy, King Lear, for female empowerment is central to the play. Firstly, the bold characteristics of the women contribute greatly in enhancing the plot. Furthermore, women play a major role in developing the theme of power. Moreover, when power is given to the female characters, they reveal their true nature, thus aiding with their character development....   [tags: William Shakespeare, King Lear, Gender role]

Powerful Essays
1011 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on King Lear: Pessimistic or Optimistic?

- King Lear - With a play as complex and multi - leveled as King Lear, it is very difficult to assess whether Shakespeare's view of life is either pessimistic or optimistic. Without a doubt, there are many good arguments supporting both sides. Because there are such an array of forces at work on the character in Lear, as well as so many separate and interrelated themes, one can not help but wonder whether it was even Shakespeare's intention to express a strictly pessimistic or optimistic view. Perhaps Shakespeare was alluding to something which, although encompassing both opimism and pessimism, transcended them both....   [tags: King Lear Essays]

Powerful Essays
1044 words (3 pages)

Tragic Redemption of King Lear Essay

- The Tragic Redemption of King Lear Shakespeare's ultimate Tragedy, King Lear, is indeed a dark and soul-harrowing play. The tragic madness of King Lear, and of the subsequent turmoil that follows from it, is all the more terrible for the king's inability to cope with the loss of his mind, his family, and his pride. This descent into horror culminates at the tragic conclusion, where both the innocent and the guilty die for other's mistakes and lack of judgment. And yet, as bleak and grim as the final scene is, all is not lost is misery....   [tags: King Lear essays]

Powerful Essays
1637 words (4.7 pages)

Stylistic Devices Used in King Lear Essays

- Shakespeare’s stylistic devices convey not only a feeling of dejected despondency and suffocating anguish, but also tempestuous petulance and melancholic despair to illustrate the consequences of a lack of self-awareness and the painful process of enlightenment which follows. In addition, the breaking of the filial bond provides this necessary hardship for Lear which elicits both a feeling of pity for his state of affairs and retribution for the vanity which previously consumed him. However, these feelings eventually morph into a sense of resolution as Lear gains understanding of his past mistakes and displays an unwavering resolve as a result....   [tags: William Shakespeare, imagery, tragedy]

Powerful Essays
1149 words (3.3 pages)

Essay about Fool in William Shakespeare's King Lear

- Fool in William Shakespeare's King Lear The Fool’s function in King Lear is to create emphasis on the tragedy in the play and give insight into the characters’ true nature. He shows other characters’ nature though blunt comments and earns himself the name of ‘all-licensed Fool’, as he clearly states peoples’ inner personality. He develops the tragedy though a theme of madness and instability, from his use of poems and rhymes intermingled with standard prose, which even then is full of cryptic phrases and drivel....   [tags: Papers]

Powerful Essays
1107 words (3.2 pages)

Essay on Comparing The Tempest and King Lear

- Comparing The Tempest and King Lear       This essay will focus on the similarities and differences of the plays The Tempest and King Lear in general, as well as looking at comparisons of Prospero and Lear in somewhat more detail. Prospero and Lear are, without a doubt, the two most compelling mature figures in Shakespeare. In a way, one is the flip side, so to speak, of the other. Each represents an aging man's relationship to family, environment, and, most importantly, himself. One might even be so bold as to venture that had Lear lived, he might, through the enormity of his painful transformation, have become a character much like Prospero, a man who has learned bitter lessons from his...   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Powerful Essays
1334 words (3.8 pages)