• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

King Lear as a Tragic Hero

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

King Lear as a Tragic Hero Definition Websters New Collegiate Dictionary defines tragedy as: a medieval narrative poem or tale typically describing the downfall of a great man.(1) The Tragic Hero as a Pitied Person. In his book Poetics, Aristotle told as his idea of the tragic hero. He says that by reading the tragedy, the reader should feel pity or fear about a certain character which is the tragic hero. "The change of fortune presented must not be the spectacle of a virtuous man brought from prosperity to adversity." He establishes the concept that the emotion of pity stems not from a person becoming better but when a person receives undeserved misfortune and fear comes when the misfortune befalls a man like us. This is why Aristotle points out the simple fact that, "The change of fortune should be not from bad to good, but, reversely, from good to bad."(2) Lear, as K. S. Mirsha describes him, is a towering figure, who is every inch a king. ...read more.

Middle

Being eminently good is a moral specification to the fact that he is virtuous. He still has to be to some degree good. Aristotle adds another qualification to that of being virtuous but not entirely good when he says, "He must be one who is highly renowned and prosperous." He goes on to give examples such as Oedipus and Thyestes."(4) King lear, as we can see, is not a perfect person. He is affected by the sweet words of his two eldest daughters. He also deprived, Cordelia, his youngest daughter from her right as a heir just because she was not as smooth-tongued as her sisters. Here, the imperfection of Lear is obvious, he is just a normal person who is touched by soft words. Knowing the tragic flaw of Lear, we ask ourselves: Why cannot he be a perfect person? Aristotle gives two reasons why the tragic hero cannot be perfect. First, because the misfortunes of a perfect hero would appear odious and offend our sense of justice; and secondely it would not allow action at all. ...read more.

Conclusion

In king Lear, Lear suffers throughout the play because of his ill judgement. He is confronted with the inhumanity of his daighter as a result of trusting them and depriving his youngest daughter of his fortune. At the end of the play Lear discovers his fault and became nearer to the reality that he was mistaken to Cordelia. This insight did not come to Lear, until he went through the bitter taste of suffering. Aristotle defines discovery as "a change from ignorance to knoledge" it may imply the identity of a person or the discovery whether someones has done or not done something. Discovery, therefore includes the revealing of the whole state of affairs, about which there was previous ignorance or mistake. Thus hamartia, peripety and discovery all go together to bring about the tragedy. Hamartia, therefore, implies the "error of ignorance".(7) Lear does not realize he has commited an error until he has suffered. This suffering is so hard for Lear that it drives him crazy. He finally realizes his mistake in giving the kingdom to his two savage daughters and disowning the one daughter who loves him. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level King Lear section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level King Lear essays

  1. With particular reference to Act 1, Scene 1, show how Shakespeare presents the character ...

    He is, it appears, unable to see when people are deceiving him, as long as they praise and speak highly of him. Lear is now starting to sound like a mad fool every time that he speaks; he discusses how he still retains his royal powers and often refers to his Kingdom.

  2. To What Extent Can King Lear Be Described as the Tragic Hero of Shakespeares ...

    I don't think a parent today acting behaving the way Lear did would ever be described as a 'hero' in any sense of the word. I will now begin to work through Aristotle's characteristics of a tragic hero again and see how far King Lear fits into each one.

  1. Social injustices in King Lear

    Even though these two characters were loved by their children and to a certain extent the audience, their actions could be described as folly, since it was their naivety that pushed them to trust their deceitful children and banish their inculpable ones.

  2. If Justice is relative, depending on personal point of view, how can it be ...

    Further building on the theme of - 'the powerful abuse the issuing of justice' -we are presented with flaws in lawful justice. Cornwall and Regan along with her sister Goneril, who are in power, brands Gloucester as a "filthy traitor" and unlawfully punish Gloucester under Goneril's gruesome response: "Pluck his

  1. An Examination of the Significance of the Fool in King Lear

    had taken the side of Lear who is now out of favour with 'fortune'. The Fool then tells Kent that Lear had banished two of his daughters, and did the third a blessing against his will; and that, if Kent still follows Lear and supports him, he would be no

  2. The Nature of Redemption and the Limits of Pessimism in King Lear

    He now admits that Shakespeare?s universe is full of suffering (and therefore devoid of ?beauty?) and that the only thing capable of attaining goodness is the immaterial soul. While this might not constitute an outright contradiction, it is highly misleading.

  1. To what extent is King Lears flaw the infirmity of his age?

    Kent?s words, if brash, ring true and serve to alert the inexorable Lear. A relevant note to make concerning Lear?s attitude is his desire to unburden himself of the King?s onerous responsibilities, all the while maintaining his power and title, which he shows no sign of planning to give up.

  2. Compare and contrast madness: its possible causes; its manifestations; its consequences; and its resolution, ...

    His madness is shown more explicitly than in Lear, with references to "tremor cordis," a physical malady. Hundreds of years before the psychoanalytical movement Shakespeare would forge links between disorders of the body and the mind, and Leontes' imbalance, in direct contrast to the grace of Hermione, is displayed also

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work