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king lear is it a tragedy

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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