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

Is Lear a Tragic Hero?

Extracts from this document...


Q Is Lear a Tragic Hero? Tragedy is defined in Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary as: 1) a medieval narrative poem or tale typically describing the downfall of a great man, 2) a serious drama typically describing a conflict between the protagonist and a superior force (as destiny) and having a sorrowful or disastrous conclusion that excites pity or terror. The play of King Lear is one of William Shakespears great tragic pieces; it is not a tragedy in itself, but also a play that includes two tragic heroes and four villains. I felt that a tragic hero must not be all good or all bad, but just by misfortune or by error of judgment he is deprived of something very valuable to him. As the play open once can almost immediately see that Lear begins to make mistakes that will eventually result in his downfall. The very first words that he speaks in the play are:- "...Give me the map there. Know that we have divided In three our kingdom, and 'tis our fast intent To shake all care and business from our age, Conferring them on younger strengths while we Unburdened crawl to death..." ...read more.


Throughout the rest of the play, the consequences of this error slowly and steadfastly increase until Lear is destroyed. There must be a change in the life of a tragic hero; he must pass from happiness to misery. Lear, as seen in Act 1, has everything a man should want - wealth, power, peace, and a state of well-being. Because a tragic character must pass from happiness to misery, he must be seen at the beginning of the play as a happy man, surrounded by good fortune. Then, the disasters that befall his will be unexpected and will be in direct contrast to his previous state. "I am a man more sinned against than sinning" this is Lear evaluation of himself when he is at his weakest. This quotation is derived from the storm scene in Act 3 Scene 2, before we accept this we must take into account Lear's condition and the consequences that have lead his to this dreadful state. King Lear is no ordinary man. ...read more.


In his madness Lear learns to endure his agony. Through his madness and suffering he becomes a better person, more humble, less egoistic and starts to care for the needs of others "Come on, my boy. How dos't my boy? Art cold?.." "Poor Fool and knave, I have one part in my heart that's sorry yet for thee." (Act 3 Scene 2) As Lear starts to pity other we start to feel pity for him. Later, when he knows he is to be imprisoned, he maintains this misfortune with a passive calmness. He has grown spiritually through painfully achieved self-knowledge and through Cordelia's love. The suffering of a tragic hero extends beyond himself, and it clearly did with respect to Cordelia as well as to Gloucester. We see the King as an exceptional being in the sense that he is very much like us, except that his emotions and behaviours are intensified. He experiences both internal and external conflict, and although he strikes us as being wretched, we never see him as contemptible. Rather we pity him. It is on these grounds that we consider King Lear a tragic hero. (1083 words) ...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. Compare and contrast Lear and Macbeth's effectiveness as Kings.

    Macbeth is a strong, determined young man. He loves and serves his wife, Lady Macbeth. His thirst for power takes over his loyalties, and he kills King Duncan to satisfy his own ambition.

  2. King Lear - Lear Exclaims in Act 3 That He is "More Sinned Against ...

    He decides to judge the evilness in their absence. Lear pronounces his punishment on Regan. She is to be "atatomises" to "see what breeds about her heart" (3/6/34) Lear is now more searching, wise and just than he was ever before.

  1. How Does Lear change throughout the play?

    "Now all the plagues that on the pendulous air. Hang fated o'er mens faults light on thy daughters" He is still thinking about the rejection of Gonerill and Regan. Lear can't get the fact out of his head, that he is responsible for the position he is in, and not his daughters.

  2. Character Analyses - King Lear

    By the time Shakespeare was writing King Lear, the English had survived centuries of civil war and political upheaval. The English understood that a strong country needed an effective leader to protect it from civil war and potential foreign invasion.

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

    Regan is extremely firm in her advice to return to Goneril and beg her pardon. Lear is astonished and is reduced to kneeling to her in begging "On my knees I beg that you'll vouchsafe me raiment, bed and food."

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

    Its as though in all the ferocity of the storm and the uproar his daughters have caused, he has one small moment to himself and realises exactly what has happened. Lear needs to say this line as though he means it, in a soft, calmer and quieter voice, taking his time to understand what he is saying.

  1. I am a man more sinned against than sinning King Lear was written ...

    Kent, Lear's most trusted adviser and friend cannot see this happen to Cordellia and protects her. He argues with Lear about his rash actions too. "Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least Nor are those empty - hearted whose low sounds Reverb no hollowness."

  2. An Analysis of the Role of Comedy in Shakespeares Great Tragedy King Lear

    a mouse, is quite shocking to watch: Lear has been reduced to nothing. Having travelled this journey with Lear there is no way this scene could be interpreted as comic; it is both pathetic and tragic to see such madness in a once almighty man. However, Lear?s peripetia is necessary.

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