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

Discuss how Shakespeare illustrates the character of Lear changing during the play.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Discuss how Shakespeare illustrates the character of Lear changing during the play. In the play, Shakespeare develops the character of Lear from a King oblivious to the feelings and intentions of others, into a loving father, who cares deeply for his daughter. The play is a tragedy. The dictionary offers 'play in which the hero is destroyed by a personal failing in adverse circumstances' as a definition. King Lear certainly fits the bill, although it could be argued that he is not altogether a hero at the start. Act 1 Scene 1 King Lear decides to divide his kingdom up between his daughters. But why is he doing this? He wishes to give up his responsibilities but retain the power associated with Kingship. This on its own is very self-centric behaviour, wanting power but the burden of leadership. "To shake all cares and business from our age, Conferring them on younger strengths while we Unburdened crawl toward death" The way Lear is deciding how much land to give his daughters is to judge how much they love him, irrespective of how well they could rule. ...read more.

Middle

Kent attempts to reason with him, but Lear's anger continues to persecute the innocent. Despite Kent's loyal service and truthful words Lear, blinded by his power, banishes Kent, his best friend, from his kingdom. This is perhaps the first sign of Lear's madness, which strengthens greatly later in the play. "Thy youngest daughter does not love you the least" "Turn thy hated back upon our kingdom" Act 3 Scenes 2 - 4 Lear is no longer oblivious to his elder daughters' mistreatment of him and realises he was foolish to dismiss Cordelia and Kent. He is initially self-pitying, dropping the 'royal we'. "I never" This shows another change in attitude. On the heath there is a storm. But the storm is an example of pathetic fallacy; it reflects Lear's internal thoughts through a form of personification. Shakespeare shows this in several ways in the scenes. Lear is talking to the storm, but if the storm is a reflection of him, he is essentially talking to himself. Many people consider talking to yourself to be a sign of madness. ...read more.

Conclusion

"Howl, howl, howl, howl!" This is a new form of a combination of blindness and madness. He is unable to see anything other than his favourite daughter Cordelia, although moving away from being self-centric; he is now only able to see her. This is another large shift in character since Act 3. Shakespeare uses repetition to show Lear's emotion. Conclusion At the start of the play Lear is very self-centered and oblivious to the lies he is facing. He then realises the truth, becomes mad due to his actions but also develops a sense of caring for others. Unfortunately the death of Cordelia makes him mad with grief and he is unable to care about anything else. This could be considered similar to the beginning of the play, however I think it is very different, because Lear is no longer 'blind' (at least not as much) and has a reason for his behaviour. I believe the character of Lear provides a strong moral: those who are self-centered and easily blinded by others will have a unhappy ending - perhaps a tragic one. Unfortunately those who might benefit from this moral are unlikely to realise it applies to them. by Greg Auger ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE 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 GCSE King Lear essays

  1. A Consideration of the way Shakespeare presents and develops the theme of blindness in ...

    retain the trappings of majesty without the 'cares and business', of ruling. Lear attempts to do this by dividing power from responsibility. It is easy to see the division of his kingdom as a kind gesture, but on deeper examination we realize how false his values are, and his desire to rely on Cordelia's 'kind nursery is purely selfish.

  2. King Learis 'a Christian play about a pagan world'. Discuss

    The context of this play is perhaps the key to understanding its religious significance. Early modern England was an extremely religious place. Whether Protestant or Catholic, Christianity was ultimately the doctrine which shaped the lives of Shakespeare's audiences.

  1. Character Analyses - King Lear

    The audience quickly forgets this initial impression because the love test, in all it absurdity, forces the audience into seeing Lear as a foolish, egotistical old man. But the evidence of his greatness is seen in Kent's devotion, in the love of his Fool, and in Cordelia's love, which is sustained, in spite of Lear's rejection.

  2. Discuss the notion of appearance and reality in the play King Lear.

    she answers, 'No cause, no cause' as for Cordelia, there is no reason why she shouldn't take care of her father, because Cordelia in reality is a woman of principles and integrity. One can draw up a parallelism between the main plot and the subplot on what concerns appearance and reality.

  1. A Consideration of the way Shakespeare presents and develops the theme of blindness in ...

    he could not see beyond the royal finery, his rich clothing, and extravagant food. However after dividing his kingdom and thus his power, Lear begins to see the error of his ways, and begins to understand Gonerill and Regan's treachery.

  2. 'I am a man more sinned against than sinning' III.2.59-60 To what extent do ...

    Such pathos is further fortified by Lear's symbolic descent into madness where he undergoes an immense learning process as he treads along the path of self-discovery. Indeed, it was necessary for Lear to suffer in order to improve his understanding of himself and his society generally.

  1. The Storm Scene (Act 3.2) And The Scenes In The Hovel/Farmhouse That Follow (Act ...

    A definite crescendo would show the audience how angry and desperate the King is in having to beg to the heavens for help. To see a King beg would be a sorrowful sight and therefore the audience would feel empathy for Lear.

  2. Explore the Ways in Which Shakespeare Presents the Character of King Lear.

    By having Cordelia speak to the audience and inform us of her feelings on the love test, Shakespeare allows us to understand her answer in a way that Lear cannot, and allows us to see that Lear's furious reaction to her words is a terrible mistake on his part.

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