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

    Then Lear can't believe his eyes after telling Regan of all Gonerill's terrible attributes, Gonerill arrives and Regan joins hands showing a physical manifestation of the sister's alliance. Lear now realises that the pair of them are in cahoots

  2. How Does Lear change throughout the play?

    He admits that he has changed hugely. Lear kneels in front of the fool and Kent. Lear's suffering helps him to sympathize for other people's suffering. This is symbolic as he humbles himself in relation to them. He also strips naked to recognize for himself, a poor man's life.

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

    time you gave it,' signifying her obvious sense of dissatisfaction of her Fathers behaviour throughout her life. When exploring Lear's analysis that he is 'more sinned against from sinning' from this point of view is obviously flawed, in that Lear certainly has at times abused his power, neglected his children

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

    has not yet reached a turning point where he realises how wrong he is within himself. The actor playing Lear should spit out the hard sounding constanants e.g. the "c" and "t" sounds in "cataracts" to stress Lear's hurt he feels after the betrayal of his daughters.

  1. Shakespear's ‘King Lear’ is a tragic play consisting of evil and malevolence in 17th ...

    Shakespeare the writes "hang him instantly, Pluck out his eyes" This is said by Regan and Gonerill about Gloucester and is a firm use of dramatic irony. The characters do not know what will happen in the future, but the audience know something bad is going to happen from the language used.

  2. Character Analyses - King Lear

    Lear, and in this small measure, he does prove himself worthy of Gloucester's blood. Character Analyses Edgar / Poor Tom Edgar is Gloucester's only legitimate heir, but he must flee and hide from his father when he comes under suspicion.

  1. King Lear gold

    It presents a family that you could describe in contemporary terms as the archetypal dysfunctional family - a widowed father with three daughters - and I began to see that his strategy in the play is to present sympathy even-handedly.

  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