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

king lear is it a tragedy

Extracts from this document...


Tragedy is defined in Websters 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 only seen as 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 he is deprived of something very valuable to him by error of judgment. We must be able to identify ourselves with the tragic hero if he is to inspire fear, for we must feel that what happens to him could happen to us. If Lear was completely evil, we would not be fearful of what happens to him: he would merely be repulsive. ...read more.


Lear, as seen in Act I, 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 him will be unexpected and will be in direct contrast to his previous state. In King Lear the two tragic characters, a king and an earl, are not ordinary men. To have a man who is conspicuous endure suffering brought about because of his own error is striking. The fear aroused for this man is of great importance because of his exalted position. His fall is awesome and overwhelming. When tragedy, as in Lear, happens to two such men, the effect is even greater. To intensify the tragedy of King Lear, Shakespeare has not one but two tragic characters and four villains. ...read more.


A tragic hero gains insight through suffering. Neither Lear nor Gloucester realizes he has committed an error until he has suffered. Lear's suffering is so intense that it drives him mad; it is on the desolate health that he fully realizes his mistake in giving the kingdom to his two savage daughters and disowning the one daughter who loves him. It is not until Gloucester has been blinded that he learns the truth about his two sons. These two characters learn to endure their suffering. When Gloucester's attempt to commit suicide fails, he decides to bear his affliction until the end. In his madness Lear learns to endure his agony. Later, when he knows he is to be imprisoned, he maintains this misfortune with a passive calmness. He has grown piritually through painfully achieved self-knowledge and through Cordelia's love. Tragedy in King Lear is not only seen through itself but, also through the character of the King and other characters. The Play of King Lear is a great tragic play that many tragedies try to compare to. ...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. In what ways does the sub-plot mirror the main plot?

    They are archetype villains from the onset of the play and to some extent all these characters highlight the sibling rivalries. However, whilst Goneril and Reagan run parallel to Edmund in their role of the play, they do differ in their circumstance and reasoning behind their evil actions and therefore to some extent this is where the two plots differ.

  2. How Does Lear change throughout the play?

    When Lear is speaking to Cordelia he admits to her his mistakes which he has made. "If you have poison for me, I will drink it" He admits that he has done wrong. Cordelia probably already knew that is was his fault, but I think that Cordelia would like to hear that it wasn't her fault.

  1. How is madness seen in King Lear?

    The lines "Death, traitor! Nothing could have subdu'd nature to such a lowness but his unkind daughters." In Act 3 Scene 4 shows that Lear blames his daughters for all that has befallen him, rather than his own lack of judgement for bringing his problems upon himself.

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

    The audience would have seen this as cruel and unfair because Cordilia did not get a say in deciding her fait. Shakespeare may have included this to start off the tragic hero pattern where Lear's life goes down hill or he may be showing on of the problems that can

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

    Lear's overpowering "pelican daughters," Gonerill and Regan show no respect for their father and thus cause him relentless suffering. They abandon him and estrange him from his kingdom, which causes him to lose sanity. The dismissal of Lear's knights is significant since his followers are a symbol of Lear's might and importance, but they also represent real fighting power.

  2. Character Analyses - King Lear

    Like Goneril, Regan also proves herself to be unyielding and cruel. Regan's plucking of Gloucester's beard reinforces the point that she has no respect for age or rank. In contrast to her basic inhumanity, Regan shows some real humanity, though briefly, when Cornwall is wounded.

  1. King Lear - Did he learn?

    In addition, also in Act 5 Scene 3, Lear was calling Kent, Edgar and Albany as "men of stones", totally unaware of what they have done for him; unaware that Kent, even after he was shamefully banished by Lear out of the country, had loyally followed him all along, disguised

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

    There are many examples of The Fool?s cruel humour throughout the play, all of which point out the irony and absurdity of Lear?s situation and, although they may be perceived as being witty, their impact on the audience is not comedic: ?The Hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long, That it?s

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