King Lear's Character Growth

1955 Words8 Pages
Preema Hamid ENG 338 Professor Prescott March 29, 2018 King Lear’s Character Growth Shakespeare’s King Lear is a complex play that complicates morality with foolishness, as well as associates madness with wisdom. It is about political authority as much as it is about family dynamics. William Shakespeare, known for his clever wordplay, wrote this play so that King Lear 's wisest characters are depicted as making foolish decisions. Lear, the King of Britain, is an authoritative and important man. As he gets closer to retiring, he realizes that he needs to pass his kingdom over to the next generation. He proceeds to ignore the natural order of family legacy by deciding to divide his kingdom between his three daughters before his death. He wants…show more content…
In this paper, I will discuss how the following events in this tragic play can help us to analyze the character growth of King Lear. It is important for us to recognize the flaws and weaknesses of Lear’s personality to see how his actions and decisions led to his ruin. However, although he faces the misfortune of losing the things that he cherished the most, he also has the opportunity of transitioning into his being and experiencing the new-found attentiveness of love and morality. Whilst analyzing the progression of Lear’s complex character development, we must start from the beginning. King Lear is an arrogant and powerful individual who is very much aware of his authority. Lear’s most obvious flaw at the start of the play is that he values appearances over reality. He wants to be treated as a king and to also enjoy the title, but he doesn’t want to take the king’s responsibilities of ruling for the good of his kingdom. Likewise, his test for his daughters establishes the fact that he would much rather prefer a complimentary public display of…show more content…
Throughout the play, Nature is a key element in the plot. Lear mentions nature several times when addressing the other characters. He goes against the natural order of things by dividing his kingdom before his death. He goes against his natural father-daughter relationship by banishing Cordelia, and he uses power that he no longer has to throw Kent out from the kingdom. Lear describes his kingdom in a natural sense when giving Goneril her part of the kingdom, “Of all these bounds, even from this line to this, With shadowy forests and with champains riched, With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads,” (1.1.62-64). Lear once again summons nature when he banishes Cordelia from the kingdom, “For, by the sacred radiance of the sun,/ The mysteries of Hecate and the night,/ By all the operations of the orbs/From whom we do exist and cease to be,/ Here I disclaim all my paternal care,/Propinquity, and property of blood”(1.1.110-115). Lear calls upon nature to reject it at the same time, cutting ties with his own daughter. He once again calls out to nature when he curses Gorenil that she remains childless. Nature is seen as a chaotic storm that also reflects Lear’s inner tumult. After being thrown out from both his daughter’s kingdoms, he faces the monstrous storm that nature befalls on him. Lear is cast out from the civilized world into the natural world, to wander through the storm and the wilderness, and he also has to face the inner storm of emotions within him.
Open Document