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How does the character of King Lear Change throughout the play 'King Lear'

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Introduction

How does the character of King Lear Change throughout the play 'King Lear' The play King Lear in many ways fits in with the Jacobean ideals. It portrays the idea of society being thrown into chaos, by a break down of the hierarchy that was believed to have so much power over the state of the world. In the hierarchy, God came first, then the King, then the Bishops, then the aristocracy, then everyone else. It may have been believed that once Lear divided up the kingdom, he, having the divine right of Kingship but not being recognised as having it, caused society to be disrupted, and the world and weather to turn to chaos. This is mirrored in how the elements and his family's condition change. For it's time 'King Lear' must have seemed quite a radical play, as it deals openly with the disruption of society, and the extent that some people will go to for power. It also shows the King, the person nearest to God as having so many faults and being complacent (" Lear: ... crawl unburdened towards death... ") In his duties, which must have been quite a new thing for the audience. ...read more.

Middle

Not only have his daughters disowned him, the have thrown him out in the midst of a violent storm, showing the complete extent of their cruel nature. In act three scene two, Lear really begins his learning process. He fully understands his situation. He shows this by saying, " Here I stand, your slave, a poor, infirm, despised old man;" and realises that in the state he is in, he is at the complete mercy of the elements. "Lear: ... You owe me no subscription. Then let fall Your horrible pleasure." Lear begins to realise the true injustice of the situation, for the first time he has to weather a storm, he is unprotected, for probably the first time in his life. At this point we begin to become truly concerned for Lear. His ranting becomes what we see as insane, yet he himself realises he is going mad, "my wits begin to turn". Even though he is ranting we can see another subtle change in Lear; he turns to the Fool and asks, "How dost, my boy? Art cold?" this shows that already through his suffering he has began to think of the condition of others around him and not just of himself. ...read more.

Conclusion

"Lear: ... wipe thine eyes ... " In all of his speeches a the very end, his thoughts focus on Cordelia, and the terrible grief he is suffering at her death, " Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life, and thou no breath at all?" In seeing Cordelia's death as a terrible injustice, it shows that he can now see with good judgement, but his self-realisation is too late. I think that Lear's character is put through a tremendous amount of physical and emotional torment in order to teach him to distinguish between appearances and reality. Into this learning process he also pays more attention to many things which he had not noticed prior to his madness and torment. He also takes much more notice of the suffering of the people who surround him. By the end of the play he can express his emotions, use good judgement, and he does not take things for their face value. This shows how his emergence from a world of blindness and ignorance, and his change in character has enabled him to understand the people surrounding him, human nature, poverty, injustice, things which he had previously not even known existed. He had gained his knowledge too late. Natalie Scott ...read more.

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