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

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Introduction

'King Lear' is a tragic play consisting of evil and malevolence in 17th century England. It symbolises what can happen in a kingdom if a bad ruler takes the throne. Shakespeare wrote the play in 1603, which was just before King James took the monarchy in 1605. The play could have been written for this reason, to warn James of the problems that can face a ruler. Another theory of how this play came about is that Shakespeare based it on the story of Sir William Allen during his stay in London. Sir William Allen, who was a former mayor of London, had split his estate between his three daughters who had then arranging to live with them alternately. The daughters had then treated him with disrespect. Throughout the play Shakespeare shows an upside down Chain of Being, with less important characters receiving the main role and the new king or queen being selected by the king and not God. Shakespeare is an artist of words and brought about on of the biggest advances in the use of the English language. This perfection is shown in all his works and plays. Before this there were only plays on sections from the Bible, which did not inspire the people. ...read more.

Middle

Shakespeare uses 'Anointed flesh'. 'Anointed' meaning holy suggests that Gloucester has a lot of respect for Lear. It also shows that if Lear is so highly regarded Gonerill and Regan are very evil to have thrown him out of their homes and out of the monarchy. Shakespeare shows Gloucester fearing for his life in act 3 scene 7 with the words "He that will think to live till he be old, Give me some help! - O cruel! O you gods! Here he is begging Gloucester for mercy and praying to the gods for forgiveness in a last attempt to redeem himself because he can see Cornwall is about to gouge out his eyes. Shakespeare uses exclamation marks to break up the pace of the text and to signify the terror Gloucester must be feeling as he dares to insult Regan. Not only the Language Shakespeare uses but the characters actions, reactions and relationships also help to dramatise evil. From the very beginning of the play tension is shown in family relations when Lear punishes his favourite daughter because she tell the truth about how she feels. This is very powerful drama because Lear not only punishes Cordilia but goes as far as to disown her and sell her to France as if she was nothing. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is evidence of how Shakespeare used the upside down Chain of Being to create a tenser atmosphere in the audience because the people who watched his plays were of higher class themselves and wanted to see the more powerful characters dominating to show their superiority. Throughout the play the characters refer to blindness and how blind they have been. This feeling of not knowing what is going on because families are turning to enemies and people are being banished is continued in Act 3 Scene 7 when Gloucester is blinded. This is the climax of the story with more action and violence makes the point of how characters are being confused by what they don't know because Gloucester sent the King to Dover for good reasons and is innocent. Dramatic irony helps twist the story and characters into believing things that are not true. In act 1 scene 1 Kent talk of how blind Lear is with the phrase "See better, Lear.......The true blank of thine eye." This identifies Lear's moral blindness, lack of self-knowledge, and misunderstanding of his daughters. This is true when he came to deal with Cordlia's refusal to obey him. The underscore of images to do with sight and blindness sharply emphasizes the dramatic effect of Cornwall's literalness of Gonerill's threat in act 3 scene 7. ...read more.

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