Essay, Research Paper: King Lear Flaws

Shakespeare: King Lear

Free Shakespeare: King Lear research papers were donated by our members/visitors and are presented free of charge for informational use only. The essay or term paper you are seeing on this page was not produced by our company and should not be considered a sample of our research/writing service. We are neither affiliated with the author of this essay nor responsible for its content. If you need high quality, fresh and competent research / writing done on the subject of Shakespeare: King Lear, use the professional writing service offered by our company.

Of all Shakespeare's great tragic heroes, Lear is perhaps the least typical. In
the beginning of the play Lear is already an old man; his best days have passed,
though doubtless there is still about his person a certain regal carriage.
Lear’s petulant behavior betrays him, and soon, when he engages his three
daughters in the dreadful game of flattery, wherein Goneril and Regan swear the
whole allegiance of their hearts to a father, leaving nothing for a husband, it
becomes clear that Lear is something less than natural. In the first act, Lear
assumes one of the least attractive roles in Shakespearean literature, that of a
bad father. Lear at first does not realize that his temper and deep seeded need
of blandishment leads to the usurpation of his divinity. Only through rejection
and madness is Lear able to understand and change his destructive attitudes and
behavior. As a tragedy, King Lear portrays a protagonist whose fortunes are
conditioned by his hamartia, or tragic flaw. As defined by Aristotle, “the
protagonist of a tragedy should be a person ‘who is not eminently good or
just, yet whose fortune is brought about by some error or frailty’ (Jacobus
IIV). This error is not necessarily a flaw in character; hamartia can be an
unwitting misstep in definite action or the failure to perform an action (Jacobus
IIV).” Lear's hamartia is the capricious division of his powers and kingdom
before his death - more specifically, the rejection of Cordelia because she will
speak "nothing." Lear’s flawed character traits that enabled him to
make this mistake were his disrespect of the chain of being, his faith in the
substance of spoken words, and his rashness. Lear believes himself a great and
respected King; Goneril, Regan, and the Fool constantly remind him that he is an
old man who has lost his kingdom, his faithful daughter, and his wits through
his own folly. In Lear’s whimsical desire to hear how great he is, he trusts
the substance of spoken words. He is not concerned with the truth and so he
mistakes Cordelia's response for an insult, a non-answer. She will not give him
the words he desires because they do not hold the substance of what she knows to
be truth. Through his madness Lear breaks down the false illusions of his
courtly world. Where the earlier speech is concerned with power and title (Blow
winds and crack your cheeks! Rage blow!…), the later speech is concerned with
humanity and friendship (Poor naked wretches, whereso’er you are…). Lear's
madness can be seen both as a result of his arrogance and as a remedy for it:
The Fool's statement that "truth's a dog must to kennel; he must be whipped
out." foreshadows the pain that Lear will have to pass through before
attaining enlightenment. Lear’s madness is unarguably the ranting of a mad
man. However, Lear’s ravings contain some method in them. As a result of
Lear’s madness, he slowly and methodically realizes his fatal error, and the
corresponding personality traits. Lear understands that the consequential
suffering of all his subjects is due to his mistakes. In the final scene, Lear
asks who and what he is, and he is told (most bluntly by the Fool) that he is
nothing. He no longer has importance to the other characters. However, Kent, the
Fool, and Cordelia make him more than nothing does by serving faithfully,
speaking bluntly, and loving unconditionally. Though in the end Lear is able to
understand his flaws, he is never able to use the knowledge he has attained to
emend his destructive attitudes and behavior. That is what makes “King Lear”
a tragedy. In conclusion, Lear brought upon himself the ultimate punishment; the
comprehension of his personal faults, which led directly to the suffering of all
who loved him. Although Lear knows full well the error of his ways, his
situation restrains him from accomplishing any sort of change in this respect.
As a footnote, it is interesting that “the Bard’s patron, King James of
England was seeking to unite England and Scotland at the same time that
Shakespeare was writing King Lear. That Shakespeare chose to show a divided
kingdom in King Lear leading to tragedy confirm that Shakespeare was either a
significant social and political commentator or simply a royal ass kisser
(Martin, Long, and Tichenor, Side 3).”BibliographyJacobus, Lee. The Bedford introduction to Drama third edition. Boston:
Bedford Books, 1997. Martin, Reed., Long, Adam,. and Tichenor, Austin. The
Reduced Shakespeare Company Radio Show [audio recording] 2 cassettes. Laughing
Stock Productions, Ltd. 1994.
Good or bad? How would you rate this essay?
Help other users to find the good and worthy free term papers and trash the bad ones.
Like this term paper? Vote & Promote so that others can find it

Get a Custom Paper on Shakespeare: King Lear:

Free papers will not meet the guidelines of your specific project. If you need a custom essay on Shakespeare: King Lear: , we can write you a high quality authentic essay. While free essays can be traced by Turnitin (plagiarism detection program), our custom written papers will pass any plagiarism test, guaranteed. Our writing service will save you time and grade.

Related essays:

Shakespeare: King Lear / King Lear Play
In the play King Lear written by William Shakespeare a collection of images are used to express different points Shakespeare is trying to relay to his audience. One reoccurring image that kept poppin...
Shakespeare: King Lear / King Lear Stupidity
There has always been a perpetual jester in a kingly court. Often he has provided entertainment via his superficial jokes and has won the good graces of his master by creating an atmosphere of ebulli...
Shakespeare: King Lear / King Lear Vision
In Shakespeare's tragedy, King Lear, a prominent reoccuring theme is vision and it’s relovence. The characters, Lear and Gloucester are Shakespeare's principal means of portraying this theme. Althoug...
Shakespeare: King Lear / King Lear
"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive". Sir Walter Scott may not have intended to describe the tangled web of secrets that fuels Shakespeare's tragedy "Kin...
Shakespeare: King Lear / King Lear
Throughout the first Act of King Lear there is one overwhelming topic, which can not be overlooked. That is to say that the two main families in this play, Lears' and Gloucesters', are both following...