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"It's not Lear's weakness but his strength that makes the story a tragedy." Discuss.

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Introduction

"It's not Lear's weakness but his strength that makes the story a tragedy." Discuss. I would disagree with the statement above, since we can see from the very beginning of the play, that Lear makes the mistake himself of abdicating his throne to fuel his ego, which eventually results in his downfall. By abdicating his throne, not only is he plunging his family and community into crisis by abandoning his responsibilities, he is also violating God's natural law. In the 18th Century man's task was to obey God's law and maintain his position in the hierarchy, fulfilling his duties. King Lear by giving away his kingdom went against this and violated the natural order. This creates a parallelism between another of Shakespeare's plays, "Macbeth." Macbeth when he becomes king is not a true king, as he is not behaving like God's deputy on earth, and instead he acts like a usurper. Both Lear and Macbeth abdicate their responsibilities, disobeying God's law, which has devastating consequences to the family and country causing disorder and chaos later on in the play. ...read more.

Middle

His threat and curses seem increasingly empty as the scene unfolds. His speeches become increasingly disjointed, as he becomes more distressed, hinting at the madness to come. Lear now speaks of his daughter using animal imagery, for instance he describes Goneril as a -"sharp-toothed, like a vulture" with a "wolvish visage." King Lear is now isolated outside in the storm. The storm portrays the rage and anger Lear experiences and thus the storm serves as a pathetic fallacy. All of this contributes to the suffering of Lear due to the gross sins that he has committed. It is traced back to the single most important error that he made. The choice to give up his throne. This one sin had proven to have massive repercussions upon Lear and the lives of those around him eventually killing all those who were involved. For instance Gloucester loses his status and eyes and Albany realises his wife's true heart. However the audience at this point may begin to feel sorry for the protagonist, as he hardly deserves the extreme torment he receives from his daughters. ...read more.

Conclusion

In King Lear, the good characters such as Cordelia are personifications of "virtues," and the bad characters such as "Edmund" are personifications of the "vices." Lear finds true everlasting spiritual values before he dies, which parallels with the "every man." Thus because of these values, he has built up strength in his character, which therefore makes the story a tragedy through his strengths and not his weaknesses. On the other hand however, Christian interpretations of the play, say that bodies are destroyed in King Lear by the characters own envy and lust. This would suggest it was Lear who destroyed himself, and thus it was his weakness, which made the play tragic. In conclusion I feel it is difficult to say whether it was Lear's weaknesses or strengths that caused the tragedy. Instead I believe that it was a mixture of both; Lear's initial weaknesses of abdicating his throne and banishing his daughter and servant, as well as his strengths through the suffering and his transition through his state of madness made the play a tragedy. Natasha Patel ...read more.

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