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Social injustices in King Lear

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To what extent are the perceived injustices in Lear's society the ultimate cause of tragedy? To understand why tragedy was caused in 'King Lear' we must understand the root of the words 'Social Injustices' and how each character perceived them. 'Social' could be defined as an individual living in companionship with others or in a community rather than in isolation, and an 'injustice' could be defined as the rights of others being overlooked as they are treated unfairly and there is a violation of their rights and is a cause for their behaviour. Thus the social injustices in Lear's society were the fuel for the tragic momentum and were met by the majority of characters in "King Lear". These perceived 'social injustices' had led to the frustration and resentment characters bred. Lear created a society where the birth of a child and how it was conceived defined its social position, characters such as Edmond were branded as 'bastards' as they grew up feeling isolated and faced injustices society had condemned on them breeding frustration and resentment a cause for their behaviour and tragedy. Edmond's status in society inevitably led him to resent the status that was awarded to him at birth, consequently the tragedy being heightened due to his undying enthusiasm to overturn the injustices that were casted upon him. ...read more.


It is to be acknowledged by the audience that Shakespeare creates hope right till the end when Cordelia brings her army to save Lear and even right at the end of Act 5 when the audience believe all hope is lost Shakespeare cues Edgar to say that there is still hope for England, and future societies. Shakespeare skilfully parallels Lear and Gloucester's experience's after being outlawed to demonstrate how each character would react to the injustices. Gloucester remarkably does not resent his position ironically he is angered by the misconduct of society 'so distribution should undo excess/ and each man should have enough' this shows his view and the most primitive allusion to Marxism, where all men should be equal, and not have more than they need. Gloucester takes aboard the degrading position as a blind suicidal (as earlier in the play he is blinded by Goneril and Cornwall), but paradoxically able to visualize the social injustices more vividly, strangely this does not breed resentment - it however, helps Gloucester grow and learn from his mistakes accelerating the pathway to tragedy in 'King Lear' a reason being that we realise that there is not only tragedy because of the degrading positions in society and death but Gloucester's ability to recognise them and not being able to make any reforms. ...read more.


If tragedy were to be explored as the main theme in 'King Lear' there would be several reasons for the cause of it. Shakespeare explores several themes throughout 'King Lear'; however, tragedy dominates them all. Tragedy throughout 'King Lear' could have been caused by many factors such as; the madness of 'King Lear' and the storm that portrays it. Another factor could be Goneril and Regan's loathing for their father and their urge to exploit their father's vanity and highlight that he was unfit to rule the Kingdom. However, it would be an understatement to say that these were the reasons that defined and caused the ultimate tragedy that entrapped the play, as it was the social injustice's Lear created and how he inflicted them upon his characters. The characters throughout 'King Lear' reacted to the injustice's and perceived them differently as some had bred hatred and anger, as others fought to break these injustice's because they witnessed what they were doing to people. Therefore, we acknowledge that the social injustice's that were created before and implemented during 'King Lear' were the dominating reasons for tragedy. Lear's vanity and highlight that he was unfit to rule the Kingdom. However, it is an understatement to say that, that was the sole reason as injustice's in society had led to their frustration. ...read more.

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