Theme Of Suicide In King Lear

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According to the World Health Organization, approximately 800,000 people lose their lives to suicide each year. Shockingly, somebody takes their own life every 40 seconds, a statistic that does not even include the many unsuccessful attempts. Evidently, suicide has been a pervasive issue in society for hundreds of years, and as a result, it is a recurring theme in literature. Suicide plays a pivotal role in both Robertson Davies’ Fifth Business and William Shakespeare’s King Lear, as many characters attempt to take their own lives as a means of coping with the brokenness that dwells within them. Although both Leola and Gloucester attempt suicide as a result of failed relationships, their lives are impacted in an opposite manner. After her…show more content…
After he wrongly accuses his son of plotting his death and is maimed by those he once called friends, Gloucester becomes depressed. He tells Edgar, “I have no way and therefore want no eyes;/I stumbled when I saw: full oft ‘t is seen,/ Our means secure us, and our mere defects prove our commodities” (4.1.78). Although losing his vision was traumatic, he cares little about it because he has no need for vision anymore. Even when Gloucester could see, he was blind to the reality of his son’s innocence. When he realizes his error, Gloucester becomes so distraught that he decides to “repair the misery [Edgar] dost bear” (4.1.79) by committing suicide. Gloucester attempts suicide to escape the pain of a broken relationship with his…show more content…
Leola attempts suicide after finding out that Boy has been unfaithful to her, and Gloucester attempts suicide after wrongly accusing his son and being maimed by his friends. However, while Leola’s despair persists beyond her suicide attempt, Gloucester is released from his depression and suicidal nature. Attempting suicide is a cry for help, and it is essential that friends and loved ones recognize this and seek professional care for these broken individuals. With appropriate mental health supports in place and help from family and friends, some, like Gloucester, are able to find purpose in their lives. Unfortunately, others find themselves in the same position as Leola, and are driven to attempt suicide again. Although suicide is still a problem in society today, significant progress has been made. Discussion of this issue is now encouraged, with the hope that those experiencing suicidal ideation may seek the help they so desperately
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