King lear character analysis


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King lear character analysis

  1. 1. Insert Surname Here 1Name:Tutor:Course:Institution:Date: King Lear Character Analysis William Shakespeare’s King Lear is a tragedy that has received many accolades. As saidby David Littlejon, the work is “the most unconventional, the most hysterical, the most outré andoutrageous play Shakespeare ever wrote” (Boyden, Kimberley and Staines 564). Thismasterpiece is about the perils faced by the aging King Lear who plans to divide his realmamongst his three daughters purely based on their flattery. The following paper will analyze thecharacter of King Lear. King Lear is the tragedy’s protagonist who wields a lot of power in Britain but is reducedto madness because of his believe in empty flattery from his daughters. Although King Learruled over stable and strong land, he had very little understanding of the problems that hissubjects faced. Instead, he looked upon the Fool to distract him from real issues and withentertainment so that he could forget his problems. He is depicted as an arrogant and proud Kingin the opening scene of Act 1 when he abdicates his Kingdom. Here, he recklessly avoids hisduties as a King “intent/to shake all cares and business from our age,/conferring them on youngerstrengths.” (1,1, 40-42) (Cameron 58- 62)
  2. 2. Insert Surname Here 2 Lear is also presented as a quick-tempered and dominant king who enjoys the high lifegoing hunting and reveling with his knights. His quick temper is demonstrated in Act 1 scene 4,for example, after the fool tells the King of the foolishness in the decision to give away hiskingdom, at which the King responds as thus: “Dost thou call me fool, boy? / we’ll have youwhipp’d.” (1,4,7) His hot temper is also demonstrated when he lashes out at his daughterCordelia for telling the truth. Another significant character of King Lear is that of a mad person. This is depicted afterthe humiliation he gets from Regan and Goneril in Act 2 scene four, whereby he is in “highrage”. In Act 3 scenes 2 and 4, King Lear rages and fantasizes with the gods of nature and asksthem to execute their worst: “blow, winds, and crack your cheeks!” (3,2,1) In the events thatfollow he eventually accepts responsibility and displays empathy, regret and kindness for thepoor. One of the good characters of the King is that of a pitiful man. This is depicted in Act 3scene 2 when he laments of his disgrace more sinned against than sinning” (3,2,59). King Learalso displays pity with the Fool when he recognizes that he is shivering and wet, asking thus,“How dost, my boy? Art cold?” (3,2,68) (Bloom 48; Shakespeare 265). In Act 4, scene 7, Lear is depicted as a sad and remorseful man. When he wakes from adeep sleep, in tent, Lear thinks he is in Purgatory and mourns thus “I am bound/Upon a wheelof fire, that mine own tears/Do scald like molten lead (4,7,46- 48). In sorrow, he begs theforgiveness of Cordelia. When Lear and his daughter Cordelia are about to be imprisoned, he ispresented as a joyful, content man simply by being with his daughter. He tells Cordelia that “Sowe’ll live/And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh/ At gilded butterflies, and hear poorrogues/.” (5,3,11-13) In the ending scene in ct 5 scene 3, Lear is depicted as a wise and chastenedman. He eventually comes to value Cordelia more than even himself following her death and
  3. 3. Insert Surname Here 3speaks thus of the chance that Cordelia might live “is a chance which does redeem allsorrows/That ever I have felt” (5,3,268) (Shakespeare and Pearce 233)
  4. 4. Insert Surname Here 4 Works CitedBloom, Harold. Shakespeares Tragedies. 48: Infobase Publishing, 2000.Boyden, Matthew, Nick Kimberley and Joe Staines. The Rough Guide to Opera. 564: Rough Guides , 2002.Cameron, Lloyd. King Lear, by William Shakespeare. Pascal Press, Pascal Press, Oct 1, 2004.Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of King Lear. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2005.Shakespeare, William and Joseph Pearce. The Tragedy of King Lear: With Classic and ContemporaryCriticisms. Ignatius Press, 2008.