King Lear Essay

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King Lear Essay

        Shakespeare wrote many great tragedies, and one by far may have bee “King Lear”. A King worried about his old age decides to divide his kingdom amongst his three daughters to whom love him most. By doing this all that Lear wants is to keep his title of king and to be able to live with his daughters. Another tragic hero of this play is the Earl of Gloucester. The Earl has two sons one named Edgar and the other son an illegitimate bastard named Edmund. this play is not only seen as a tragedy in itself, but also a play that includes two tragic heroes and four villains.  It is 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 acknowledge ourselves with the tragic hero and that what happened to him may happen to us. Lear is foolish and arrogant, it is true, but later he is also humble and compassionate.  He is wrathful, but at times, patient.  Because of his good qualities, we experience pity for him and feel that he does not deserve the severity of his punishment. His actions are not occasioned by any corruption or depravity in him, but by an error in judgment, which, however, does arise from a defect of character. Lear has a "tragic flaw" - egotism.  It is his egotism in the first scene that causes him to make his error in judgment - the division of his kingdom and the loss of Cordelia. 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 the tragic hero; he must past from happiness to misery.  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 follow will be of an opposite of the state he is in come to the beginning of the play. As Lear wonders on alone and accompanied only by the fool and Kent in disguise Lear sees how it is hard to be left alone and abandoned by the daughters who swore their love to their father the king. Lear is referred to as a fool and that he has become old and has gained no wisdom from it. The fool states “thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise” (Lear Act 1 Scene 1 lines 42-43) This is said by the fool because the fool believs that Lear has grown old and with his age he has gained no wisdom, for he had given all to his daughters who’s love was not really for him but for their own well being.

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        The Earl of Gloucester another one of the tragic heroes of this play also falls in a burden just as Lear did for Gloucester had trusted the love of his illegitimate son Edmond. Edmund “The Bastard” is told secretly from his father of  a letter containing that French invading troops had landed on Dover and that he was going to help the king. After knowing this Edmund flees to the Duke to tell him of what a betrayal his father has been towards the Duke. Edmund the bastard he is betrays his fathers trust and rats him out to ...

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