Essay PreviewMore ↓
Tragedy is defined in Websters Dictionary as:
1) A medieval narrative poem or tale typically describing the downfall
of a great man
2) A serious drama typically describing a conflict between the hero and a superior force (like destiny) and having a sorrowful or disastrous conclusion that excites leaves the readers full of pity or terror. King Lear is one of William Shakespeare’s great tragic pieces; it is not only seen as a tragedy in itself, but also a play that includes two tragic heroes and four villains. I felt that a tragic hero must not be all good or all bad, but he must be deprived of something very valuable because of some critical mistake, or error in judgment.
We must be able to identify ourselves with the tragic hero if he is to inspire fear, for we must feel that what happens to him could happen to us. If Lear was completely evil, we would not be fearful of what happens to him: he would merely be repulsive. But Lear does inspire fear because, like us, he is not completely upright, nor is he completely wicked. He is foolish and arrogant, it is true, but
later he is also humble and compassionate. He is wrathful, but at times, patient. Because of his good qualities, we experience pity for him and feel that he does not deserve the severity of his punishment. His actions are not brought on by any corruption or wickedness in him, but by an error in judgment, which, however, does arise from a defect of character.
Lear has a tragic flaw: egotism. It is his egotism in the first scene that causes him to make his error in judgment - the division of his kingdom and the loss of Cordelia. Throughout the rest of the play, the consequences of this error slowly and steadfastly increase until Lear is destroyed. There must be a change in the life of the tragic hero; he must pass from happiness to misery. Lear, as seen in Act I, has everything a man should want - wealth, power, peace, and a state of well-being. Because a tragic character must pass from happiness to misery, he must be seen at the beginning of the play as a happy man, surrounded by good fortune.
How to Cite this Page
"The Tragic Hero in King Lear by Shakespeare." 123HelpMe.com. 06 Apr 2020
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- 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]
1336 words (3.8 pages)
- The Tragedy of King Lear King Lear is a tragic story by William Shakespeare is a story of a man King Lear and his decision that led to his fate and the fate of others. With every tragic story comes a tragic hero. The tragic hero of the story is King Lear. According to the definition of a tragic hero one must be born into nobility, endowed with a tragic flaw, doomed to make a serious error in judgement, fall from great heights or high esteem, realize they have made an irreversible mistake, and faces and accepts death with honor meets a tragic death.... [tags: Tragic hero, William Shakespeare, King Lear]
1071 words (3.1 pages)
- The Tragic Hero in King Lear by Shakespeare Tragedy is defined in Websters Dictionary as: 1) A medieval narrative poem or tale typically describing the downfall of a great man 2) A serious drama typically describing a conflict between the hero and a superior force (like destiny) and having a sorrowful or disastrous conclusion that excites leaves the readers full of pity or terror. King Lear is one of William Shakespeare’s great tragic pieces; it is not only seen as a tragedy in itself, but also a play that includes two tragic heroes and four villains.... [tags: Papers]
692 words (2 pages)
- The Effect of Sense of Entitlement It is a fact that many human beings nowadays, or more specifically, those growing up under the influence of the American dream, have an attitude of entitlement. This directly relates to the idea that the world owes these individuals something. Often, one may find themselves taking things for granted and expecting things at no cost – all descriptions of the ordinary lives of many Americans. It may be true, that a sense of entitlement is naturally distilled into young children, and we may even be breeding human beings to have this element condensed into them at a young age.... [tags: King Lear, William Shakespeare, Tragic hero]
1072 words (3.1 pages)
- The iconic playwright, William Shakespeare, is one of the most critically beloved writers of all time. His timeless stories still maintain cultural relevance today, despite being written centuries ago. Part of Shakespeare 's appeal, is that his plays can be understood by the uneducated masses of Victorian England, and still be intellectually edifying to British Nobility. Characters like King Lear, who are incredibly intense and tragic, may not require much thought to understand, but deserve a profound analysis in order to fully appreciate.... [tags: Tragic hero, William Shakespeare, King Lear]
1288 words (3.7 pages)
- ANALYZING KING LEAR'S TRAGIC FLAWS King Lear is a play about a tragic hero, by the name of King Lear, whose flaws get the best of him. A tragic hero must possess three qualities. The first is they must have power, in other words, a leader. King Lear has the highest rank of any leader. He is a king. The next quality is they must have a tragic flaw, and King Lear has several of those. Finally, they must experience a downfall. Lear's realization of his mistakes is more than a downfall. It is a tragedy.... [tags: William Shakespeare King Lear]
862 words (2.5 pages)
- King Lear is one of the most complex Shakespeare’s tragedies, borrowing its tragic elements from several types of tragedies popular during the Elizabethan Renaissance. The play highlights a flawed character and the impact of fate and free choice, and the protagonist’s realisation of the consequences of his mistakes. Finally, tragedy ruins the hero, results in his downfall and leads to catharsis. Lear, because of his flaws, loses his authority as a king, his identity as a father, and his sanity. Unlike other tragedies, there is no salvation for the tragic hero or any sign of optimism in the conclusion, but the audience recognises the restoration of moral order.... [tags: Tragic hero, Tragedy, Poetics, William Shakespeare]
1703 words (4.9 pages)
- The play of King Lear is a tragedy like many of Shakespeare’s plays, and many of them deal with the tragic hero that end up meeting their demise thanks to their tragic flaw. The tragic hero of this play is King Lear, and he is a man that is a ruler of the kingdom of Britain in the 8th century B.C. He is a very old man surrounded by grave responsibilities, which are taking care of the land and taking care of the citizens of the kingdom. Lear the tragic hero must feel suffering and contrast those good times to the suffering, except his suffering leads to chaos and ultimately his death.... [tags: Shakespeare, Play Analysis]
988 words (2.8 pages)
- The play of King Lear is a tragedy like many of Shakespeare’s plays, and many of them deal with the tragic hero that end up meeting their demise thanks to their tragic flaw. The tragic hero of this play is King Lear, and he is a man that is a ruler of the kingdom of Britain in the 8th century B.C. He is a very old man surrounded by grave responsibilities, which are taking care of the land and taking care of the citizens of the kingdom. Lear the tragic hero must feel suffering and contrast those good times to the suffering, except his suffering leads to chaos and ultimately his death.... [tags: Shakespeare, Tragedy, Analysis]
990 words (2.8 pages)
- In all genres there are stereotypical elements. This academic essay will outline the importance and effect of the elements of dramatic tragedy within the given passage from King Lear, and how this is significant and develops an understanding in the audience towards the play as a whole. The passage given comes from Act 1; Scene 1 of ‘King Lear’. This initial scene is what would be called the ‘initiation of tragedy’ in this context as it supplies the tragic hero; in this case Lear himself with the road to his downfall.... [tags: Tragedy, Tragic hero, William Shakespeare]
1796 words (5.1 pages)
- How Two Shakespearean Couples Resolve Conflict in Their Relationships in A Midsummer Night's Dream and As You Like It
- Iago's Motivation in Shakespeare's Othello
- Madness as The Pathway to Mental Clarity in Shakespeare's Hamlet
- Elements that Make a Tragic Hero in Shakespeare's Works
- Manipulation in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar
- The Truth Behind William Shakespear's Hamlet
In King Lear the two tragic characters, a king and an earl. Neither of these are ordinary men. To have a prosperous man endure suffering brought about because of his own error is unusual. Because of his exalted position, we’re supposed to be incredibly upset when bad things happen to him. His fall is awesome and overwhelming. It’s tragic enough for this to happen to one man, but in King Lear it happens to TWO of them, so the effect is doubled. And there are four villains too!
There is a sub-plot concerning three of the characters: Gloucester, Edmund, and Edgar. This subplot supports the big plot. Anyways, Gloucester undergoes physical and mental torment because he makes the same mistake that Lear does. Like Lear, Gloucester is neither completely good nor completely bad. There is, for instance, a crudeness in the earl, who delights in speaking of his adultery. But
He’s an okay guy, and has some good qualities as well. For instance, he shows concern for Kent in the stocks, and he risks his life to help Lear. Gloucester's punishment is blindness, and it drives him almost as crazy as Lear's madness. These two tragic stories unfolding at the same time make the play a lot more dramatic than it would have been otherwise. It’s like going to the circus and getting to see ten rings instead of three. It’s just better.
The important element in tragedy is action, not character. It is the deeds of men that bring about their destruction.
Lear calls upon the "great gods,"
Edgar and Kent blame Fortune, and
Gloucester says that the gods "kill us for their sport" (IV.i.37).
But in reality the calamities that befall both Lear and Gloucester occur as a result of some flaw of their own. Their actions grow out of their characters: both are rash, unsuspecting, and vengeful. But the actions themselves are the beginnings of their agony, for these actions start a chain of events that lead to ultimate catastrophe.
A tragic hero gains insight through suffering. Neither Lear nor Gloucester realizes that he has committed an error until it’s too late and he’s already paid the price. Lear's suffering is so intense that it drives him mad. Only after his health goes bad, can he fully realize his mistake in giving the kingdom to his two savage daughters and disowning the one daughter who loves him. It is not until Gloucester has been blinded that he learns the truth about his two sons. These two characters learn to endure their suffering. When Gloucester attempts to commit suicide and fails, he decides to stick around the land of the living instead of cashing in his chips. In his madness Lear learns to endure his agony as well. Later, when he knows he is to be imprisoned, he maintains this misfortune with a passive calmness. He has grown wise through painfully achieved self-knowledge and through Cordelia's love. Tragedy in King Lear is not only seen through itself but, also through the character of the King and other characters. The Play of King Lear is a great tragic play. Many playwrights may attempt to beat it, but this thing is sadder than watching The Fox and the Hound after your wife packs up and moves out while you’re at work.